Parkology

How do I organize support for my park?

Building strong community engagement is essential to the creation of any local park, playground, or dog park. This support will create momentum and influence that can drive positive change in your neighborhood. Including community members in your efforts to improve your surroundings often leads to the creation of advocacy groups that maintain the energy and enthusiasm needed to advocate for local change.

In cities and towns across the country, people have been gathering as volunteers to improve their blocks, streets, and neighborhoods by planting street trees, addressing neighborhood safety, or creating public outdoor spaces where their families can play. Having friends and neighbors to lean on and divide the hard work of community organizing is easier than tackling a big project yourself.

No one can take care of parks on their own. To unlock the potential of your local green space, you’ll need help from others who are passionate about improving the quality of your community. Find out who the leaders or influences are in your neighborhood. It could be your local convenience store owner, the friendly grandmother who is out tending her front yard, or the gentleman who walks his dog, maybe even the postal letter carrier. Sometimes unlikely partnerships can promote action and these individuals may know specific details about successes and failures of past efforts in your city or town.
 
User-added image
Photo by Laura Barisonzi
 
Additionally, connecting with neighbors will identify communal needs and potential obstacles, which will allow your group to discuss and set reasonable goals that benefit your entire community and make the case for why your park project is essential to improving the quality of life in your neighborhood. Ultimately, connecting with local advocacy groups will help you inform a larger group of citizens in your area and connect you with neighbors that are as dedicated as you.
 
Championing parks comes in many forms. Whether you're working with a small “friends of” group, a park conservancy, or a national expert group you’ll find allies that can help you support and advocate for your park or local green space. The City Parks Alliance has hundreds of non-profit and parks agencies as members, check their member list to see who’s working to champion parks close to you. Additionally, National Recreation and Park Association, has a very active action center that can prepare your interactions with legislators and a Park Champion Toolkit to help you engage your community and elected officials.

Now that you’ve considered a number of potential partnerships, you can continue by understanding the many tools and resources available to you and how to secure funding to help you get started on your park project.