Interested in Advocating for Public Parks? Here’s How to Get Started
Public parks are essential for so many reasons. They benefit the economy, improve the health and well-being of community members, and contribute to a higher quality of life. Public parks also make cities and communities more livable, as these open spaces can be used for picnicking, sports and recreation, and even working remotely.
Though public parks can help community members to live healthier and more fulfilling lives, public park advocates are needed to make these spaces safer and more comfortable for children, adults, and seniors of all ages. And fortunately, becoming a public park advocate is easier than you’d think.
If public park advocacy sounds like something you’d be interested in pursuing in your free time, check out these tips from Rose Building Contractors.
What is a Public Park Advocate?
Public park advocates help to make the open spaces in their communities safer, cleaner, and more usable, typically through physical improvements, programmed activities, and fundraising efforts. These advocates are responsible for raising the money needed to improve a park’s landscape design and lighting; reporting safety issues and suspicious activity to local law enforcement; and building community in the neighborhoods where they live, work, and play.
Becoming a Public Park Advocate
To become an advocate for public parks near you, the National Parks Conservation Society (NPCA) offers some great recommendations for getting involved:
- Find a park to focus your efforts. Start by connecting with an NPCA Regional Office or locating a public park near you. Contact its Park Service department once you’ve chosen a park to advocate for.
- Support public park advocacy organizations. Look for ways to volunteer with and support advocacy groups like the NPCA, National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), and City Parks Alliance.
- Create your own park friends group. Assemble a group of dedicated volunteers to help you build a park friends group from the ground up. Hold the initial meeting in a public space and invite as many community members as possible. You could share the invitation on social media, submit it to a neighborhood newsletter, or post flyers around town.
How to Advocate for Public Parks Near You
While your park group’s mission doesn’t have to be the exact same as other park groups in your area, safety and cleanliness should be top priorities for all public park advocates. So start by conducting an audit of parks in your area and look for design improvements that could be made to make the open space safer, cleaner, and more secure. Bring these proposed improvements to the park administrators in your area and look for ways to make these changes happen.
As one idea for making a public park safer and more secure, you could propose upgrading the lighting throughout the park. From adding parking lot light poles to brightening up sidewalks and dark areas with lamp posts and solar string lights, adequate lighting can help to create an illusion of safety and increase evening use of the park. Just make sure you’re selecting durable poles and bases for your park lighting sources: Steel and aluminum are both decorative yet long-lasting options.
Some other ways to make a public park feel safer include:
- Quickly removing graffiti or other forms of vandalism.
- Keeping up on repairing minor imperfections like peeling paint, wood splinters, and broken equipment.
- Providing access to public telephones so visitors can call for assistance if needed.
- Improving the visibility of all park entrances and exit points.
The Bottom Line
Many of us rely on public parks for physical exercise, entertainment, socialization, and fresh air, and there’s no better way to improve the open spaces in your community than by becoming a public park advocate. You’ll make the public parks in your area safer, cleaner, and more secure, which will in turn make these spaces more attractive and inviting for people of all ages.
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