Practical Marketing for Recreation Events

You’ve ordered all the supplies, scheduled the staff, and worked out the logistics and schedule for your next event. Now you have to market it!

As I write this, I’m marketing Montgomery Township’s 20th Annual Autumn Festival. With so many moving parts, there’s a lot to communicate. There are also a lot of places to put the message, and the channels of communication seem to keep stacking up. It’s enough to make my head spin, and event marketing is a major part of my job as a Public Information Coordinator.

The good news is that you don’t need to be a graphic designer or social media wizard to get the ball rolling. Below are some quick tips to put together a practical marketing plan for your programs and events.

What do you do if you don’t have a knack for marketing?

Start with what you know

Begin by simply listing the basic information:

  • What is the event’s name?
  • Where will it take place?
  • When will it take place?
  • Who is it for?
  • How much does it cost?
  • What is included?
  • Who can people contact for more information, or where can they go to find information?

Select supporting photos

If this is a recurring event or program, select a few photos from the last time you held it. These don’t have to be professional quality, but they should showcase some of the activities that take place. People respond more to programs and events that show engaged attendees having a great time.

If you don’t have photos, pick an image or two using a program such as Canva that represent the event. Canva offers a free version to begin designing.

Design a flyer

Don’t be intimidated by the word “design.” You can use Microsoft Word, Microsoft Publisher, Canva, or any other program you are comfortable with to make the flyer. As long as it has the answers to the basic questions and a few photos or clipart graphics, your flyer will get the message across.

Pick Your Channels

This is where it gets tricky. Instead of getting into the many channels, you can use to communicate, just think of what you currently have. My recommendation is to have the following:

  • Website – This is your home base where all information is available. All social media posts and email newsletters about the event should directly link back to your website or event-specific webpage.
  • Social Media –Stick to one platform and do it well. If you’re comfortable expanding to more social media platforms, go for it at the right pace for your organization. If all you have is Facebook, that’s great! Despite what you hear about the decline of Facebook as a social media platform, it is still my experience that you will engage with the most members of your community on Facebook than other social media platforms.
  • Email Newsletter – Ideally you have access to an email newsletter platform. Putting your information in front of people who specifically opt in to receive your updates has tremendous value and is extremely effective.
  • Print Media – Many organizations are reevaluating their relationship with print media. It’s expensive to print and mail, but it does help reach the population less comfortable with using the internet. Including basic information with some direction about where to find more information can at least increase awareness of your event.
  • Local news outlets – Form relationships with your local news outlets so they can publish your event on their website.
  • Word of Mouth – I assure you, people are talking to their friends and family about events as you share information. In fact, this is the best marketing you can ask for!

Work with Your Communication/Public Information Office

If you have a good relationship with your coworkers responsible for Communication/Public Information, use them as a resource! Their job is to get the word out. As someone who has been on both the Recreation programming and Public Information sides, I cannot stress enough how important this relationship is if your municipality has the resources. As long as you provide accurate information for your Public Information Coordinator to work with, they can help get the message out to the public.

I hope this provides a basic overview of how to market your event using the resources you have. There’s nothing groundbreaking here. Like most other things, it’s about mastering the fundamentals.

 If you have questions, reach out to me at dmuller@montgomerytwp.org . Happy marketing!

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Invisible Women

When planners and developers fail to account for gender, public spaces become male spaces by default.

My daughter strongly recommended I read the bestselling book Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men, by Caroline Criado Perez. She helpfully loaned me her electronic copy, and I learned so much from it I bought my own copy. And in turn, I recommend it to you.

Invisible Women, by Caroline Criado Perez

In its pages, the author argues that the gender gap is both a cause and a consequence of the type of unthinking that conceives of humanity as almost exclusively male. It was surprising to me (being exclusively male since birth), how widely and how often this bias crops up, and how it distorts the supposedly objective data that increasingly governs our lives.

She covers a lot of territory. The book’s six parts cover Daily Life, The Workplace, Design, Going to the Doctor, Public Life, and When it Goes Wrong; and includes such intriguing chapters as Can Snow-Clearing be Sexist, Gender Neutral With Urinals, and One-Size-Fits Men.

Of particular interest to park and recreation professionals is a section addressing city and park planning and use. She cites a 2016 article in The Guardian that asked why we aren’t designing places “that work for women, not just men” and cautions that the limited datasets that track and trend data on gender make it hard to develop programs and infrastructure that factor in and meet women’s needs.

For example, planners in Vienna found that the presence of girls in parks and public playgrounds decreased after the age of 10. They subsequently found, through collecting pertinent data, that single large open spaces were the problem, because they forced girls to compete with boys for space—who largely chose not to. But when the developers subdivided the parks into smaller areas, the female dropoff was reversed.

They also addressed the park’s sport facilities. “Originally these spaces were encased in wire fencing on all sides, with only a single entrance area—around which groups of boys would congregate. And the girls, unwilling to run the gauntlet, simply weren’t going in.” The simple solution? More and wider entrances. They also subdivided the open areas and sport courts. Formal sports like basketball were kept intact, but they also provided space for more informal activities, in which girls were more likely to engage.

In another example, Malmos, Sweden, discovered a similar male bias in the way they’d traditionally been planning urban recreation for youth. “The usual procedure was to create spaces for skating, climbing and painting graffiti. The trouble was, it wasn’t ‘youth’ as a whole that was participating… It was almost exclusively boys, with girls making up only 10-20 percent of those who used the city’s youth-directed leisure spaces and facilities.” So they began asking what the girls wanted—and the resultant new areas are well-lit and split into a range of different-sized spaces on different levels.

Such a gender-equitable approach doesn’t just benefit females alone, but extends to the economy. When sports funding goes mainly to organized sports, which is dominated by boys, that which was meant to benefit everyone equally, simply doesn’t. Sometimes girls’ sports aren’t provided for at all, which means girls must pay for them privately, or not participate at all. Such detrimental consequences then ripple into the present and future health of half the population, and the overall economy. One study concluded that a certain increase in the city’s support for girls’ sports could “lead to a 14 percent reduction in future fractures due to osteoporosis, and the investment will have paid for itself.”

Perez concludes that when planners, developers and programmers “fail to account for gender, public spaces become male spaces by default.” This is not a niche concern: “if public spaces are truly to be for everyone, we have to start accounting for the lives of the other half of the world.” It’s not just a matter of justice: it’s also a matter of personal health, welcoming placemaking, social equity, and simple economics. And it starts with collecting meaningful gender-sensitive data.

Communicating with Clarity

by Derek Muller

Welcome back to summer camp! You’ve booked your trips and entertainment, secured your basic supplies, and drafted your calendar of events. Your summer staff is on the payroll. Nothing can go wrong!

It’s the night before camp, and your email won’t stop buzzing. Parents have a million questions, and they’ve waited until the last minute to ask them. You answer their questions about lunches, medications, daily activities, staffing ratios, camp-appropriate clothing, and anything else that may be included in those emails. NOW you’re ready for tomorrow.

The morning comes, and you drive to camp. Parents immediately launch questions at you. Your counselors aren’t entirely sure what they should be doing with the kids as they’re signed in. When you finally get a chance to breathe, your mental to-do list is maxed out. You know you can’t do all of this by yourself, so now you need to delegate.

We all love the idea of delegating, but it’s very difficult for us in practice. It’s not because we’re control freaks. It’s hard because it involves a great deal of communication, and communicating effectively is challenging. When we develop our camps, festivals, and programs, it’s easy for us to picture every detail in our heads. Externalizing it for others takes intentionality and perspective.

Communication is a complex topic to tackle in a single blog post, so here are some quick tips on communication that I’ve found helpful in my career. They are framed around summer camp, but they can be translated to planning other programs and your community festivals.

Put It In Writing

Creating documents is tedious and time-consuming. However, they are necessary to provide clear information. Some documents that I’ve found helpful are:

• Registration Guides

• Parent Handbooks

• Staff Handbooks

Regularly Communicate

A simple email previewing the coming week works wonders. Sure, you probably shared the information for the whole season in your handbook or beginning of the year welcome email, but people forget. Sending timely reminders is key to effective communication with program participants and parents. Include your staff on these emails so they know what parents are being told.

Assign Tasks (Delegate)

How many times have you ended a conversation with, “Great! We’ll do that.”? There’s a good chance the task was either not completed, or that it was done twice. Delegating isn’t being pushy. By clarifying who is responsible for specific tasks, the potential for miscommunication and conflict is minimized. If you clearly task your Camp Director with creating the rosters for the upcoming week, they will get done. If you leave it as either you or your Camp Director will create the rosters for the upcoming week, you’ll end up with zero or two copies of the roster. Never leave a conversation without clearly defining the next action and who is responsible.

Use the Right Tools

There is a seemingly infinite number of communication channels and apps. While they were all designed to enhance our communication, using too many of these tools complicates communication. Meet with your team and choose the channels that will be used to communicate, and when each means will be used.

Keeping these four concepts in mind won’t completely end your communication troubles, but you will experience a much more streamlined process that keeps parents and staff alike on the same page.

Who you gonna call? Parks and Rec!

A fresh perspective on funding recreation and parks as an indispensable service in a post-pandemic recovery

Schuylkill Banks TrailIt’s as predictable as gaping baby birds and late-winter potholes, all crying to be filled. Come budget time, municipal park and recreation services perennially want for funding.

In a 2017 national study conducted by Penn State University, researchers found that 83 percent of local governmental officials viewed parks and recreation as worth the average tax investment in their communities. An overwhelming majority (99 percent) agree their community benefits from local parks. Yet during fiscal deficits, park and recreation services are cut the most severely of all community services.

Why is this? According to the research, local officials simply do not perceive park and recreation services to be as important as the others. Follow the money: in flush times, all services reap increases; but during economic downturns, park and rec services are dramatically and disproportionally cut.

However, far beyond providing mere leisure services, a comprehensive park and rec system vigorously builds the community, contributing to our individual wellness and public health, our environmental sustainability and our social equity. Its facilities and programs stimulate the local economy, enhance real estate values, attract and retain business, improve community infrastructure, build resilience, and reduce crime. Its enrichments expand community engagement, develop people, and contribute directly to our quality of life. All because it constructively addresses broad-based community problems.

And this is the niche recreation and parks fills better than any other essential community service: the unique ability to bridge across multiple professional disciplines and political boundaries to facilitate comprehensive solutions to real community problems. Need to curb gang-related activities? Or assist police and social services in preventative treatment for risky behaviors? Call parks and rec. Need to coordinate the distribution of meals? After schools, parks and rec serve up the most. Need first responders in an emergency and a safe place to rendezvous? Parks and rec, at your service. Concerned about access to nature and clean air and water? Need multimodal connections to destinations of interest? Looking to build more cross-cultural respect and interaction? Boost student achievement and engagement? Attract more public-private partnerships? Who you gonna call? Parks and rec!

Fortunately, more cities and communities are beginning to realize that it is always to their benefit to incorporate and prioritize park and recreation services within other life-essential services.

It’s time for a fresh perspective on what makes community services essential: one that recognizes how they are collectively interdependent and indispensable for our modern living. I call it the Life Essentials Community Services Model.

This comprehensive view recognizes that each service sector, alone, would fail the community; but when fulfilling its interactive function within the whole, all people are indispensably protected, enriched and supported. There are three life-enhancing categories:

·  Life Protection: Firefighters, Police, Emergency Services, Hospitals, Corrections, Preventative Services.
·  Life Support: Transportation, Infrastructure, Sanitation, Utilities, Housing, Public Welfare, Clean Air, Water and Natural Resources.
·  Life Quality: Parks and Recreation, Education and Culture, Health and Nutrition, Libraries, Social Services.

In this balanced view, we can better grasp how interdependent our life-essential services truly are. And how the care and use of our public parks and greenspaces is uniquely capable of leveraging limited resources and expertise in all categories to protect, support, and enhance lifestyles and the kind of recovery we need.

The pandemic will likely continue to exact a heavy economic toll on municipal governments and their public spaces—affecting workforce, childcare, food distribution, access to nature, environmental safety, youth development, and of course, our physical and mental health, among many other vital human needs. Now is the time to embrace just how indispensable comprehensive park and recreation services are to the quality of our communities—and to invest—not divest—for our own vitally important recovery and preferred future.

This is going to leave a mark

Ready and abundant access to our stress-relieving and health-inducing parks and recreational services is needed now more than ever.

Aerial drone view of a huge riverbed, Iceland

Like the 2001 terrorist attack on the United States, the current COVID-19 pandemic will jar our senses and society in ways we haven’t anticipated.

The coming shift in our collective psyche is not yet clear in anyone’s cloudy crystal ball, but is likely to be profoundly and broadly pervasive.

But even as park and recreation professionals scramble to respond to the abrupt demands of cancelling and rescheduling programs and events, sanitizing and maintaining facilities, establishing and enforcing new protocols—while remaining on frontline public service duty in food distribution, coping and cognitive therapies, and many other community interactions and enrichments—we must also invest in some leadership forethought to our futures. Ready and abundant access to our stress-relieving and health-inducing parks and recreational services is needed now more than ever.

What will all this mean to our profession when we return (yet again!) to a new normal?

I’m no prophet (nor even a mediocre soothsayer), but it’s likely the long-term impacts of surviving the worldwide pandemic will rock our world socially, economically, environmentally, relationally, psychologically—in short, fundamentally.

And with this disruptive shift, comes a series of thought-provoking considerations to re-establishing our community value and our professional accountability. Among them:

●  How do we navigate the inherent conflicts between social distancing and community engagement?
●  How do we maintain sanitary outdoor play surfaces, and encourage trust in our best practices?
●  What adjustments do we make to our maximum load capacities in aquatic centers and meeting spaces?
●  How do we balance park/program equity with new fiscal realities and responsibilities?
●  How can we leverage increased interest in personal health for more interaction in nature?
●  How can we lessen dependence on governmental funding and operate more entrepreneurially?
●  How do we better assist our most vulnerable populations?
●  How do cancelled school sessions create a new niche we can fill in our summer camps?
●  What new partnerships can we create to build more healthful and resilient neighborhoods?
●  What new protocols need to be established in our recreation centers, swimming pools, children’s services, large-group events, fitness programs, playgrounds, concessions, trails, visitor centers, and other public facilities?

Granted, not all of these questions are newly arriving with a post-pandemic world, but if we practitioners are to remain relevant and, indeed, grow our industry’s uniquely influential role in the public good in its aftermath, we can no longer kick these proverbial cans further down the road.

Instead, I suggest embracing a new metaphor for a preferred future.

With the onset of the pandemic, thousands of park and recreation agencies suddenly have to deal with new, yet simultaneously similar challenges. Our many responses are like the myriad of rivulets produced by a flooding rainstorm. They’re trickling everywhere at once, exploring ways of forward passage, but ultimately leading in the same downslope direction. If we will share our new ideas, our innovative procedures, our lessons from failures and successes; our thousands of earnest rivulets will coalesce to braided stream flows that, just a little bit further on, will produce a stronger, broader channel of unified best-practice standards and indispensable public services, restoring and refreshing us all.

Please share your questions, suggestions and experiences with your peers in the PRPS companion Facebook page, What’s Up P+R?! As we gather resources and can offer authoritative guidance, we will post them on the PRPS Recreation and Park COVID-19 Resources webpage for all to benefit.

During the coming weeks, PRPS will be hosting free Virtual Roundtables (Parks & Recreation – Surviving the Covid Crisis) via Zoom to provide a networking platform for members to share issues and brainstorm about how to move forward during this stressful time. Individual Roundtable topics include Aquatics, Maintenance, Programs/Events/Summer Camp, Leadership/Planning, Therapeutic Recreation, and Urban Recreation.

And join the fluid movement forward!

Creating the “New Normal” In Parks Management

“Where are all of the dandelions?” I was searching for that bright yellow flower while visiting one of our parks and could not find it.  To be clear, I know that a dandelion is a non-native plant, but it was the dandelion, or lack thereof, that alerted me to the fact that our parks could be supporting more.

At their core, parks should exist to support the recreational, physical, mental and emotional needs of us.  They should also exist to provide the basic necessities for nature to survive and thrive.  In most suburban parks, we’ve failed miserably.  Our current park maintenance practices revolve around preserving a grass monoculture that requires too much time and resources – both of which we never have enough of.

There is a place in our industry for the manicured lawn – most of which is sports-related.  In hindsight, rather than designing a few pollinator gardens around an athletic field, we should have been designing the athletic fields around fields of native plants and trees.  If your community is like ours, most of your parks are already constructed without the luxury of ever getting a mulligan on that design.  What if you could change the look and functionality of your parks and reduce maintenance hours while establishing a “new normal” in parks management?

The “new normal” is different for every community, but the visual expectation of what a park should look like is what we sought to alter.  For us, it had to start with being okay with imperfect lawns and giving nature a presence where it hadn’t existed before.

How can you create the “new normal” in your parks?

  • Find the Low Hanging Fruit:  Our very first step was raising our mower decks and mowing less during the summer.  Following that, we started questioning why a location is even mowed.  Mowing is 40% of what we do annually.  If we were going to find time to work on our maintenance backlog, mowing was where those hours would come from.  Conveniently, nature also benefits from this approach.
  • Educate, Retrain & Engage Staff: Gradually introduce topics like no-mow areas, native plants and green infrastructure.  Agree upon new maintenance practices and standards. Ask staff, at all levels, where they think change could occur. 
  • Keep the Public Informed: Educate the public on the why, where and how of what you are doing.  Not everyone will agree with the vision, but remaining transparent and listening will build confidence.  Celebrate your successes on your various marketing platforms.
  • Maintain a Presence: “Low Maintenance” doesn’t mean “No Maintenance”.  This will be a different type of maintenance than what your residents are accustomed to so having a presence is important.  For example, mowing the edges of no-mow areas indicate that a space is still looked after.
  • Trust the Process – With a good plan in place and a little bit of time, your agency will begin seeing tangible benefits like more time to focus on other projects and reduced fuel consumption and wear-and-tear on equipment.  These are two easily measured meters of success. Another benefit, you’ll see a lot more nature also using your parks.

The “new normal” needs to start somewhere – community parks sound like a great place to me.   

It’s been 25 years…

EPSON DSC picture

…since the Pennsylvania Bureau of State Parks underwent its last strategic planning effort, State Parks 2000.

Planning for Pennsylvania’s state parks of tomorrow has begun. Named Penn’s Parks for All, the strategic planning process places a priority on public input and participation – because after all, these 121 state parks, totally nearly 300,000 acres, belong to all of us.

Fast Facts:
• State parks receive nearly 40 million visits each year: 36.3 million day visits and 1.6 million overnight visits.
• State parks receive 0.16 of one percent of the state’s General Fund budget.
• A state park is located within 25 miles of nearly every Pennsylvanian.

The mission of PA’s State Parks is to provide opportunities for enjoying healthful outdoor recreation and to serve as outdoor classrooms for environmental education. First consideration is given to the conservation and protection of the environment by balancing the potential impacts of recreational activities and facilities with the natural, scenic, aesthetic and historic resources within the parks.

A public survey which closed last fall yielded 14,276 responses that are being analyzed by researchers at Penn State University. 488 state parks staff members completed an on-line survey. Two additional surveys are in the works:  a statistically-valid statewide telephone survey and an on-line panel survey targeted to reach young adults and ethnic minorities.

Later this year, a preliminary report will be presented at roundtable public meetings throughout the commonwealth to get feedback and reaction from stakeholder groups and residents.

As we look to the future of state parks, questions to answer (among many others) include:

  1. What actions should be taken if natural resources within a park are being harmed by over use?
  2. What changes should be made if the general fund allocation continues to be less than is needed to properly operate and maintain all 121 state parks?
  3. How important is internet access in parks?
  4. Should overnight accommodations be enhanced?
  5. What is the appropriate balance between recreation and conservation of resources?

You can help to craft our state parks strategic plan – Penn’s Parks for All – by attending the future public meetings, reading and commenting on the preliminary report when it’s ready, and promoting the public meeting dates and locations to residents and customers.

We have an amazing, award-winning state park system that we all share. As DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn states, “It’s important to ensure our state park system remains as relevant and valuable to future generations as it has been to current and past generations.”

 

 

 

Why you should call your local elected officials before July 2, 2018

Blue Mountain

In 1993, the General Assembly, by a combined vote total of 244 to 3, established the Pennsylvania Recreation, Park, and Conservation Fund (Key 93 or Keystone Fund) with a dedicated funding source of 15 percent of the state’s Realty Transfer Tax. The realty transfer tax is collected at a rate of 2 percent on the value of real estate when a property changes ownership (with some exceptions.) The buyer and seller each pay half of the tax with the state government ultimately receiving half of the total tax revenue. Following the General Assembly vote, 67 percent of Pennsylvania citizens voted to supplement the Keystone’s permanent funding stream with a one-time infusion of $50 million in bond revenues.

On July 2, 2018, the Keystone Fund will be celebrating 25 years of success.

Twenty-five years of funding has provided Penn’s Woods with more than 2,400 community park developmental projects, 117,000 acres of preserved open space and has leveraged $3.13 in direct local investments in our parks, trails and open space for each dollar of Keystone Funding.

The Trust for Public Land conducted an economic analysis of the return on Pennsylvania’s investment in land and water conservation through the Keystone Recreation, Park, and Conservation Fund and found that every $1 invested in land conservation returned $7 in natural goods and services to the Pennsylvania economy.

Brush Creek Trail Ribbon Cutting

Keystone Funding provides to the residents of Pennsylvania:

1.  Recreation (including state parks, trails, scenic rivers, historic and museum facilities, libraries and PA State Universities)
Pennsylvania outdoor recreation generates $21.5 billion in spending, $1.6 billion in tax revenue, 219,000 jobs, and $7.2 billion in wages and salaries. Visitors to state parks spend $859 million annually at local businesses contributing to a total economic impact of $1.15 billion and 12,630 jobs in a variety of industries and businesses in the state.

2. Open Space
Protected open space in southeastern Pennsylvania provides a value of $10.9 million in water quality enhancement services and $318 million in air pollution removal services annually and adds $16.3 billion to the value of homes and generates $240 million in additional annual property and transfer tax revenues. Studies of 15 Pennsylvania communities found that open space and working farms and forest require only $0.18 in services for every $1 generated in tax revenue while residential land requires $1.26 for every $1 generated.

3. Quality of Life
Quality of life is one of the most important factors skilled workers consider when choosing where to live and work. Conserved lands contribute to a high quality of life by providing opportunities for outdoor recreation, improving air and water quality, and maintaining the character of communities.

The Keystone Fund has leveraged $205 million in matching funds from private sources and $116 from local sources for conservation. That is, every $1 of Keystone funding was matched by $2.16 in additional contributions!

Many of your future projects could rely on this funding! Educating legislators about the Keystone Fund is very important as most legislators have changed since 1993. We need to continue to enhance legislative support. Take a minute to communicate the importance of maintaining this dedicated funding source for the future of Pennsylvania Parks and Recreation. Pick up the phone, stop by their office, drop them an email or personal letter….YOU decide which avenue of communication with your local officials would be the most effective in your corner of the “Woods.” Take a minute to reach out to them before July 2nd.

For additional fact sheets, reports and surveys, talking points, sample letters to legislators and other resources visit: https://keystonefund.org/25th-anniversary-toolkit/

#KeystoneFund25    #KeystoneFund

keystone_logo_revise

 

 

 

Showcase your parks in 2018 – become a NRPA Park Champion!

In 2017, East and West Goshen Townships celebrated two-hundred years of blissful divorce with a Bicentennial Celebration on June 3rd. The event included a three-scene play based on historical documents, two stages of music, Ben Franklin (this is Pennsylvania after all…), an amazing fireworks display – even a pistol duel! That’s right, Ken Lehr and I faced off to finally see, after two hundred years, which was the better Township! In the end, we both stayed on our feet, but the crowd of 3,500 loved every minute!

While perusing the NRPA website last March, I came across their Park Champion initiative. Park Champion events highlight the positive impacts of park and recreation events within a community and specifically advocate to federally elected officials. I immediately emailed Jayni Rasmussen, NRPA’s Advocacy and Outreach Manager, to get the scoop! The initiative is very turnkey and user-friendly. Park Champion logos are available, template letters you can mail to federal officials are easily downloadable, and NRPA is more than willing to knock on your official’s doors down in Washington.

The benefits to local Pennsylvania Parks and Recreation Departments are enumerable. In my opinion, one thing that Pennsylvania Park & Recreation Departments struggle with, because we are Township and not County driven, is “playing with the big boys” across the country. By attaching the Park Champion logo to our Bicentennial Celebration – our event was seen in a higher esteem by our local Township Board of Supervisors and community. We received additional local publicity and fundraising support as well.

Another chief benefit of hosting a Park Champion event is something for the greater good. State officials in Harrisburg had a difficult time with the 2017 budget – and in most budgetary conversations monies we typically rely on came up on the chopping block. I know my community is desperately trying to renovate and rehabilitate our park spaces, but need those state monies to move forward. At our Bicentennial Celebration, we had our U.S. Representative, both State Senators and our State Representative – all of whom came simply because we were a Park Champion. They each joined me on stage and made wonderful remarks about the impact of parks here in West Chester. I had an opportunity to talk with each one, and subtly made my case that folks at the event, 3,500 (20% of my residents), truly valued parks and needed them to be updated. Politically speaking, my goal was to show elected officials that they needed me, Ken and our Parks and Recreation Departments as assets. Partnering with NRPA as a Park Champion helped us deliver on this goal.

Park Champion events can be small or large, ongoing events or something brand new. Logistically speaking, it’s best to align a Park Champion event with the congressional calendar, giving your federal officials no reason not to come!

For those that couldn’t make the PRPS Fall Membership meeting, Jayni Rasmussen was our guest speaker. It was clearly evident she is passionate about helping municipal departments advocate and highlight what makes them awesome! I spoke with her afterwards, and she summed up the Park Champion initiative best, “As park and recreation professionals, you already know that your work is essential in making your community healthier, happier, and more economically vibrant. But with so much public funding on the chopping block, it’s critical that you demonstrate to your members of Congress the importance of investing in local parks and recreation. Emails and phone calls are great, but there’s really nothing like experiencing a local park or recreation facility in person. That’s the idea behind NRPA’s Park Champion initiative – empowering park and recreation professionals and community advocates to show elected officials the importance of parks and recreation first-hand by inviting them to events, project openings, groundbreakings, program kick-offs, and more.  You’re already equipped with unbeatable advocacy assets: your parks, recreation centers, and community-focused programs. Now, it’s time to join the hundreds of Park Champions across the country and in Pennsylvania, and take advantage of the tools, resources, and network of support that NRPA offers to members and non-members alike through this initiative. Together as Park Champions, we can fight for the future of parks and recreation by bringing Capitol Hill to a park near you.”

While the snow is still on the ground and you are busy planning a wonderful 2018 – I encourage everyone to visit the Park Champion website and get going!

2017-EG Bicentennial-0038
NRPA Park Champion events – bringing local, state and federal officials together                       (L-R) US Rep. R. Costello, State Rep. C. Comitta and East Goshen Chairman M. Shane

Main Street Rising: bringing together park and recreation users from urban(ish) areas

Point_State_Park_in_Fall

Thinking of parkland in Pennsylvania evokes images of lush forests and rolling mountains. We think of the often breathtaking 300,000 acres of state parks, bearing names like Promised Land, Bald Eagle, and Worlds End.

And for the state with a namesake derived from Penn’s Woods, perhaps one of our Commonwealth’s greatest assets is access to parkland, even in our densest cities. From the winding trails of Fairmount Park in Philadelphia to the shores of Presque Isle in Erie, Pennsylvania’s cities also have an abundance of beautiful spaces—ensuring green space is within reach of nearly every Pennsylvanian.

Our urban parks and recreation systems aren’t without their unique challenges. Beyond passive use recreation, we use these spaces to celebrate, to protest, to dance, and to compete. It’s these spaces that are very backbone of our cities—and investment in these spaces is as critical as ever.

That’s why in 2017 PRPS ramped up the Pennsylvania Urban Alliance for Parks & Recreation—our collective effort to recognize the needs faced by park and recreation system in denser regions of the Commonwealth. Already, dozens of municipalities are joining our movement, and we’re looking to keep the progress going!

Whether you live in a small village with a town square or a burgeoning metropolis with a network of parks and recreation facilities—the Urban Alliance is looking to grow our voices throughout Pennsylvania.  Urban Alliance members assist in advocacy, programming, and event planning to strengthen this critical network and share best practices across the state. Just last month, Urban Alliance members came together in Allentown and Pittsburgh to discuss our collective challenges—and discuss potential solution sets moving forward.

But for this work to reach maximum impact, we need voices from across the Commonwealth. To find out more about the Urban Alliance—or to consider getting involved, visit our website at goodforpa.com/urban/ and let’s work together to ensure the spirit of Penn’s Woods lives on for years to come.

 

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