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Partnerships in Tough Times

Jack Foley of L.A.’s People for Parks pens an op-ed in the LA Daily News on the need for parks in tough times. (L.A. parks are facing a deep budget cut, as the city scrambles to reconcile lower revenues.)

The budget crisis is forcing us to rethink our lifestyle. This isn’t our first economic downturn, though, and Americans have consistently come to the conclusion that public recreation and parks are even more important when times are bad. At the dawn of the 20th century, concerned citizens and churches used recreation to soften the harsh urban realities of child labor, crowded tenement houses and crime. In Chicago, Jane Adams organized Hull House to socialize and celebrate European immigrants. The YMCA, YWCA, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the playground movement were founded during this period. During the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt put people to work building WPA projects, including many of Los Angeles’ great public parks. The thinking was that public recreation was necessary to humanize the excesses of capitalism. Today, instead of cutting programs and increasing fees, city and county officials should develop more effective ways to provide services, especially in low-income communities. Under a growing trend of “smart recreation,” activities are designed to achieve social goals…….A hallmark of this new approach is partnership with private sector and nonprofit groups.

Easier said than done, but Foley goes on to describe some of the initiatives his group is undertaking in partnership with private foundations, organizations and local government that can acheive the above goals.

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