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The Importance of Public Space

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The following blog from Nelson Beckford, Senior Program Officer, A Strong Neighborhood Saint Luke’s Foundation, was originally published on Let’s Talk Philanthropy: a blog by Philanthropy Ohio.  

By definition, a public space is a social space that is open and accessible to people. Streets, public squares, plazas, parks and beaches are examples of public spaces. These spaces are a social utility or public good because they:

  • Promote democracy, inclusion and social cohesion allowing people from various socio-economic backgrounds to share common ground to celebrate, recreate, to remember, to reflect or protest.
  • Define a city or neighborhood, think Golden Gate Park, Public Square, Washington Square Park – the spaces are reflections of the values, culture and history of a place. Ditto with the simple neighborhood park.
  • Promote active living; when people live close to a park or trail, they walk more.

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These are just a few of reasons that drove the Saint Luke’s Foundation along with Philanthropy Ohio to form the Public Space Community of Practice. The members represent the full spectrum of public space work from funding, research, land disposition, land acquisition, planning, design and programming. The goal of the group is broad but simple: to reflect and learn from the multiple efforts happening in Cleveland around public spaces.

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We opened our first gathering with this check in question: “Public Spaces are important because____.”  From there we did some context setting, framing and highlighted public space efforts happening at various scales and across sectors, from a memorial pocket in honor of a police officer – Derrick Owens – killed in the line of duty, to a large-scale intergenerational playscape. We also gave a sneak preview of the landmark research effort – National Park Study – conducted by City Parks Alliance, the National Institute for Health and the RAND Corporation.

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Stay tuned for more information and/or opt in for one of the few remaining seats available on the Philanthropy Forward ‘17 “Why Parks Matter” learning tour where we will explore parks and public spaces that work and those that could better serve their nearby residents. If you haven’t registered, click here to sign up.

I challenge foundation staff and board to reflect on how our work (regardless of type of funding priorities/focus) touches on or is influenced by public spaces. As a member of society, take a moment to think about the value you, your family or neighbors get from the public spaces. Discuss.

 

Joint-Use Agreements- Best Practices

By Erin Cameron

In the interest of providing a quality park within a 10-minute walk from all, the Center for City Park Excellence conducted research in joint-use agreements. To do this, the Center gathered 33 agreements from 20 of the largest US cities and analyzed the best practices within those agreements. A joint-use agreement (JUA) binds school districts or independent schools with their local government for the maintenance and usage of parkland. Communities benefit because they often lack funding and land for new parks, limiting opportunities for growth of public spaces in dense and low-income neighborhoods. JUAs allow the community to capitalize on existing schools with playgrounds and fields without further development and spending. While The Center primarily focuses on the practices of cities, in rural areas where funding is limited JUAs offer the same benefits as they do in dense urban regions. The Center encourages cities and school districts interested in adopting a JUA to use the below practices in their agreements, as well as mimicking the most adaptable and useful agreement from the City of Durham. The Center published its findings in this post, as well as further research and notable cases. Continue reading

Frontline Park: Western Gateway Park

WGPthmbEach month, City Parks Alliance names one “Frontline Park” as a standout example of urban park excellence, innovation and stewardship from across the country. The program identifies city parks that find innovative ways to meet the unique challenges faced as a result of shrinking municipal budgets, land use pressures and urban neighborhood decay. This month, City Parks Alliance has named Western Gateway Park a Frontline Park.  Continue reading

Please take our ParkScore survey

Do you have a few minutes?

Can you take our ParkScore survey?

The Trust for Public Land has produced ParkScore for the last six years and we’re looking for feedback as well as informing it’s future directions.  Please take a few minutes and complete our survey – and thank you!

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ParkScore badges_Instagram_2017_2 St. Paul

And if you’re unaware of ParkScore, please check it out. The Trust for Public Land puts out an annual ranking of park systems of the 100 largest US cities.

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Let’s Pass a Law to Fund Urban Greenspaces

By Nanette Barragán (D-San Pedro)

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There’s nothing like greenspace for improving our quality of life.

Unfortunately, too many families and children are denied access to a neighborhood park. They may also lack recreational facilities like basketball courts.

Greenspaces and outdoor recreation aren’t luxuries. The most livable cities are dotted by parks, and they return countless health and economic benefits. Recreation brings out people from across the community. Urban open spaces make areas more appealing to live and invest in.

Continue reading