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Thought Leader People, Places & Parks Thought Leadership Uncategorized http://leadership.saportareport.com/people-places-parks/

Can You Walk to a Park within 10 Minutes?

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By Jay Wozniak, Georgia Parks Director for The Trust for Public Land 

One hundred million Americans cannot walk from their home to a park within 10 minutes. According to The Trust for Public Land’s 2019 ParkScore rankings, about 71 percent of Atlanta residents can reach a park in that timeframe, and that number has been going up for the past few years.

But we must do better–here in Atlanta and around the country–and that’s why The Trust for Public Land is setting its sights on an ambitious vision: we believe the 100 largest cities in the country can achieve a 100 percent 10-minute walk score by 2050.

The research is clear: parks boost well-being for the entire neighborhood. Great parks where everyone is welcome foster community. We must invest more to ensure the health and vibrancy of our nation’s cities. How are we going to reach 100 percent? Through three primary strategies:

  1. We are doing what we do best. The Trust for Public Land builds parks – not just any parks, but quality parks that enhance the lives of residents. Next up in Atlanta, we are working with a multitude of partners to open Cook Park in 2020. This park will bring 10-minute walk access to 1,349 households – 3,280 Atlantans – on the Westside of Atlanta, which has suffered from disinvestment, crime and population loss. Cook Park is transforming this previously uninhabitable land where 160 families were displaced by a devastating flood in 2002, into beautiful parkspace that will serve as a center for community.  
  2. We are leveraging existing public spaces. We can’t build enough new parks to reach our goal, so creatively using existing public lands with initiatives such as the Atlanta Community Schoolyards program is an essential approach. By transforming and opening up school playgrounds to the communities they serve when schools are closed, thousands more Atlantans have access to quality parkspace.  The Trust for Public Land, Atlanta Public Schools, the Urban Land Institute – Atlanta and Park Pride are just a few organizations that are putting initiatives like these in motion. 
  3. We are creating a movement to inspire communities to recognize and embrace the idea that everybody deserves a park within 10 minutes of home. We stand at the ready to offer expertise based on our work around the country, support to secure funding, and we seek relationships with like-minded partners to build, expand and enhance public spaces. 

For example, Clarkston, Georgia was one of the first cohort of national cities to receive funding from the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) for its support of the 10-Minute Walk campaign. With that funding in hand, Clarkston completed a park system master plan in 2019 that identifies priority areas, actions and funding to sustain continued investment in parks. 

We are also securing commitments from mayors who share our vision to provide public spaces to their constituents. Several Georgia mayors have made the 10-minute Walk pledge for their communities:

o   Alpharetta

o   Atlanta

o   Brookhaven

o   Clarkston

o   Decatur

o   Macon-Bibb County

o   Monroe

In the coming years, The Trust for Public Land will continue to pursue these strategies in Atlanta and beyond so that our city meets that 2050 goal. There is plenty YOU can do as well to celebrate the parks we have – and advocate for the parks we need. 

 You can begin by taking the pledge to walk with colleagues, friends, supporters and partners on October 10 National Walk to a Park Day.” Snap a picture or take a quick video with your team, your friends, or your loved ones when you reach your favorite local park and share it on Instagram between October 1-10. Don’t forget to include #walktoaparkday and to tag @trustforpublicland.

Ask your leaders questions about public spaces–have they signed on to the 10-Minute Walk Pledge? Get outside and volunteer in your local park. And keep up with The Trust for Public Land to hear more about Cook Park, the Schoolyards program and other efforts to help us reach that 2050 goal–because our communities will be stronger, safer and more resilient when we can all easily walk to a great park close to home.

 

Featured Image: Currently under construction in Atlanta’s Vine City neighborhood, Cook Park will provide a dynamic 16-acre greenspace to benefit all ages of Westside residents who live within a 10-minute walk of the project.

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