How can I engage my community or elected official to do more for public parks and the environment?

Before you can reach out to elected officials, inform yourself of why parks matter in your city.

City parks and open spaces improve our physical and psychological health, strengthen our communities, and make our cities and neighborhoods more attractive places to live and work.

The sight of trees can influence metabolic conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, according to The New Yorker's How Trees Calm Us Down. Beyond the impact of trees, CityLab’s The (Pretty Much Totally) Complete Health Case for Urban Nature details how increased use and access of quality green space can improve symptoms of depression, stress, and attention in urban dwellers. However, too few Americans are able to enjoy the many benefits that urban nature has to provide because one in three Americans does not have a park within a 10-minute walk of their home. National campaigns including the Meet Me in the Park campaign and the 10-Minute Walk campaign are leading the charge to increase access to quality playspace, parks, and green space close-to-home.

Parks offer much needed environmental relief. Green space provides homes for plants and wildlife to thrive and solace for residents and visitors to enjoy them. In addition to increased access to green space for community residents, urban landscapes greatly benefit from reduced urban heat island effect. Areas with more concrete, sidewalks, and buildings are prone to higher temperatures because these surfaces trap heat. Urban Heat Island leads to higher energy consumption, elevated releases of air pollutants and greenhouse gases, and can even compromise human health. Parks and green space combat urban heat island by breaking up the built environment with trees, grass, and green infrastructure. In addition to their cooling effects, parks are sources of carbon sinks due to their ability to absorb pollutants, filter rain and storm water, and even conserve coastlines.

The many benefits of parks make them easy to support. Follow our next steps to discover how you can take action and connect with individuals who are just as passionate about parks as you.