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Pittsburgh: Conservancy Springs Renewal

Schenley Plaza, Pittsburgh

Schenley Plaza, Pittsburgh

A profile of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and its founder and president Meg Cheever describes how such an organization can foster renewal through parks and connect a community to its parks. The article, which appeared in Pittsburgh’s Pop City starts:

It was a dark time for parks nationwide. Once, a century ago, they were the  jewels of every city, blessed green spaces amidst bricks and mortar and concrete. Then, after World War II, as people bustled into cars and out to the suburbs, the grand urban parks were allowed to go to seed. Underfunded and underutilized, they suffered from what Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, in another context, termed “benign neglect.”

Now, however, everything old is new again. With more people moving into central cities, and enjoying outdoor public spaces, parks are once again being viewed as a grand civic resource, for exercise, relaxation, spiritual renewal. The more green space, the merrier.

But how to fund them? How to restore them to their once-pristine beauty? With political priorities elsewhere, and civic budgets stretched to the max, a dozen years ago a new group stepped up, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy. We will team with you, they told the City, to make the parks whole again.

“That was very much a sea change,” offers Meg Cheever, the Conservancy’s co-founder, first employee, President and CEO. “In Pittsburgh, we are blessed with a wonderful legacy of parks and open spaces from the 19th and 20th Centuries. But for decades our parks had been neglected. The Conservancy was catalytic in renewing public interest in our parks.”

The article goes on to describe the several initiatives the Conservancy has undertaken, and notes how the revitalization of the city’s parks have helped draw events and recruitment to the city. Anyone thinking of a conservancy or interested in their own existing one would find the article a good read.

One Response

  1. […] from a pool of 88 applicants. These included Pittsburgh’s Schenley Park, which Ben Welle profiled last year. The winner will be announced on April 16. From Planetizen, here are descriptions of the finalists: […]

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