June 20, 2006
Towards the end of May, the National Agenda for Urban Parks and Recreation in America was circulated to the Parks and Recreation Professional Practice Network. This document, prepared by the National Recreation and Parks Association, calls for the federal government to partner with our cities and states to reinvest, rebuild and revitalize urban parks and recreation resources in America
Four principles have been developed that support the call. Our PPN group has confirmed that these principles correlate directly with the values for hiring a Landscape Architect for public and private development. The four principles are to promote health and wellness; stimulate community and economic development; protect the environment; and educate today’s youth, through outdoor activities, on natural processes, responsible use and preservation of resources, and importance of the preservation of parks and recreation.
Locally, landscape architects can support these principles. Health and wellness issues can be addressed through the education of government entities on the enhancements that the profession can provide through quality and responsible design and management of parks, greenways and open space. These spaceshave been shown to promote healthy habits and increased well being of a community.
The stimulating of community and economic development results from an understanding that quality parks and open space design and development actually feeds the local economy rather than placing a burden on tax dollars. Landscape architects are equipped to work everyday to create partnerships, inventory assets and encourage development by both the private sector and local government.
Who better to create sustainable parks and open space, which protects our urban environment, than a landscape architect? Our profession works everyday to protect clean water, urban forests, air quality, provide for proper handling of storm water and monitor other indicators of environmental quality and livability.
Educating, enriching, and protecting America’s youth can be enhanced by the profession through providing and encouraging use of well designed facilities for safe, healthful, recreational activities and physical activities.
A review by our Professional Practice Network has identified a number of issues related to the Call for Action that relate to landscape architects and would warrant support by ASLA. Threats identified by the group include:
- Lack of government funding to keep parks open and accessible
- Encroachment of rural areas without incorporating open space or green belt plans to balance natural area/recreation and development
- Loss of knowledge, by the government, as to the role landscape architects played in the development of our country’s great parks and how some of today’s poorly planned parks, initiated and implemented by civic leaders, have become a burden on the local community.
- Develop a closer association between ASLA and NRPA to support, promote and benefit each other’s interests with the Call to Action and other mutual interests
- Trend for sustainable communities that enhance the environmental viability of small spaces for people and nature
- Young professionals with ready cash, and empty nesters, are seeking to live, work, shop and recreate within close proximity to each activity
- More involvement by landscape architects in state and local governments and as citizen advocates in long range planning of parks and recreation services and to provide a range of vision, sensitivity to environmental concerns and planning/design of our parks systems
As a result of these comments, the PPN will initiate some discussion with NRPA as to where the two organizations can work together to develop and promote issues of mutual concern.