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JANUARY 2020 W W W. N R PA . O R G

TOP TRENDS IN PARKS & REC FOR 2020

Equitable Pricing Strategies | Lessons in Leadership | National Mentoring Month


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contents january 2020 volume 55 | number 1 | www.parksandrecreation.org

FEATURES

30 Top Trends in Parks and Recreation 2020 Richard J. Dolesh

This year’s top park and recreation trend predictions for 2020 are a combination of sober predictions about the profound changes happening in our lives on an almost daily basis, blue-sky thinking about the future and just a touch of tongue-in-cheek humor. Take a look at the hot topics park and rec professionals will be talking about in the new year.

36 Pricing Strategies That Combat Social Injustice John L. Crompton, Ph.D.

In its earliest form, “social justice” was primarily concerned with income inequality. Pricing strategies play a role in exacerbating or amending 4

Parks & Recreation

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social injustice in the context of parks and recreation. Learn about the two guiding concepts of fairness — the Benefit Principle and the Ability to Pay Principle — to see how your agency can use pricing as a vehicle for justice.

40 Indigenous Peoples’ Day or Columbus Day: Lessons in Leadership and Risk-Taking Dr. Joshua T. Medeiros, Ed.D., CPRP

A social media post from the City of Bristol Parks, Recreation, Youth and Community Services (Conneticut) about a national holiday sparked a larger, community-wide conversation about parks and recreation’s role in social equity. Learn how agency leadership took a stand and set an example for their team.


Shaped by play.

At Landscape Structures, we believe playstructures should complement their surroundings. But more than that, they should complement childhood. Every aesthetic choice is also

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backed by evidence to challenge, excite and energize kids of all abilities. Because better play shapes kids into better adults.

Š2019 Landscape Structures Inc. All rights reserved.


contents january

columns

departments

8

12 Research

10 Editor’s Letter

The NRPA Park and Recreation Marketing and Communications Report Kevin Roth

Perspectives P&R Trends Driving the 2020 Conversation Kristine Stratton

Reflecting on the Past, Preparing for the Future Gina Mullins-Cohen

16 Advocacy

14 Park Pulse Parks and Recreation: A Cure for Winter Inactivity

44 NRPA Update „ Participate in a New Decade of Data Collection 44 „ NRPA, Coca-Cola and Others Take on the Plastic Pollution Problem in Atlanta 45 „ Member Spotlight: Shane Wampler 46 „ Applications Open January 6 for the 2020 NRPA Awards 47 „ The Stories Behind the Latest Park and Rec Products 47 „ Connect Hot Topics 48 „ Member Benefit: Three Reasons to Eliminate Paper Medical and Emergency Forms 48 „ Parks & Recreation Crossword 49

50 Operations Are You Prepared When Technology Fails? Hunter Pooser

Celebrating National Mentoring Month Abbie Evans

18 Law Review Policy Immunity Challenged in Hazardous Tree Deaths James C. Kozlowski, J.D., Ph.D.

24 Health & Wellness Farmers Markets, Parks and Rec, and Healthy Meals Maureen Acquino

26 Conservation Using Advanced Technology to Reach Our Conservation Goals Karl Schrass

28 Social Equity Advocacy and the Changing Attitudes Toward Disability Alexis McKenney, Ed.D., CTRS

52 Products 52 Park Essentials 55 Advertiser Index 56 Park Bench Building Water Confidence Lindsay Collins

Cover image: Photograph Courtesy of Victor Moreno Photography

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Page 16


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P E RS P E C T I V E S A M E S S A G E F R O M N R PA’ S L E A D E RS

P&R Trends Driving the 2020 Conversation

Park and recreation trends — there are many, and the ones our field is experiencing most acutely have been building for some time. In this issue, we dig into the trends that are impacting the field of parks and recreation, including those that create opportunities to leverage or challenges to manage. As I reflect on these trends and the countless conversations I have had with park and recreation professionals since taking the helm last June, I am struck by the enterprising spirit and resilience of this field. It never seems to be a question of whether we will solve a problem but how. In this column, I highlight three of those trends and invite all of you into a conversation on these pages and on NRPA’s other platforms in the weeks and months to come. The opioid public health crisis has been building and impacting parks and recreation deeply. It has polled in the top 10 issues for directors across the country, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that it has become the highest cause of death for adults under the age of 50. Its impacts on parks and rec range from equipping staff with 8

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naloxone to training maintenance staff on personal safety to modifications in park design to introducing trauma-informed care training, mentoring and other prevention strategies for the whole community. We are seeing more department structural shifts that combine community services with parks and rec or, at the very least, increase partnerships on solution building between park and rec departments and social services and health-focused agencies. NRPA launched a substance misuse community of practice on NRPA Connect, and the conversation is rooted in hope and collaboration. We invite you to join us in building innovative practices to combat this public health crisis using parks and recreation. The trend of sports as big business continues to impact community recreation programs across the country, but the not-so-sleeping giant is esports. My recent visit to the Connecticut Recreation and Park Association conference included a conversation with directors who named this as one of their current and future challenges, and the large attendance at the esports session presented during the NRPA Annual Conference in Baltimore reflected the same. Esports drew more than 400 million viewers last year, and it is expected to grow to an estimated $3 billion in revenue by 2022. This presents a very clear challenge that isn’t going away — park and rec program directors will need to decide if this is a form of programming that they want to embrace and work with as a possible source of revenue and engagement. What is your program going to do? The December issue featured a story on the NRPA Green Infrastructure Evaluation Framework, and Jack Kardys’ Perspectives column referenced innovative design in Miami. Incorporating green infrastructure and its principles into park design, maintenance and community engagement will only get more critical in the months and years to come. Increasingly, dramatic storm events, coastal sea-level rise, persistent flooding, urban heat islands and threats to pollinators are just a handful of the environmental challenges facing our communities. Parks are critical components of community infrastructure and an essential ingredient in the solution set for strengthening our communities in the face of a rapidly changing climate. An encouraging trend across the country is park and rec agencies collaborating with


utilities on leveraging the environmental resources that utilities have — from planting native species and incorporating trails on right of ways to engaging more community ownership and participation in water resource and stormwater management. Parks as infrastructure and infrastructure as parks should be more of the rule than the exception. What opportunities do you see in your community or region to leverage such a partnership? Join the conversation on these and other trends impacting parks and recreation using #ParkRecTrends and share your thoughts on social media and NRPA Connect.

KRISTINE STRATTON President and CEO

2 2377 Belmont Ridge Rd. | Ashburn, VA 20148 703.858.0784 | www.nrpa.org

NRPA’S MISSION: To advance parks, recreation and environmental conservation efforts that enhance the quality of life for all people. EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE Chair of the Board of Directors Jack Kardys J. Kardys Strategies Miami, Florida

Chair-Elect Michael Kelly Chicago Park District Chicago, Illinois Treasurer Jesús Aguirre, CPRE

Carolyn McKnight, CPRP

Seattle Parks and Recreation Seattle, Washington

Herman Parker

Joshua Medeiros, CPRP, AFO City of Bristol Parks & Recreation Bristol, Connecticut Formerly of City of San Diego, California, Parks and Recreation Department San Diego, California

Previously with BREC Dallas, Texas

Ian Proud

National Recreation and Park Association Ashburn, Virginia

BOARD OF DIRECTORS Michael Abbaté, FASLA Abbaté Designs Portland, Oregon

Jesús Aguirre, CPRE Seattle Parks and Recreation Seattle, Washington

Hayden Brooks American Realty Corporation Austin, Texas

Playworld Systems Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Nonet T. Sykes Atlanta Beltline, Inc. Atlanta, Georgia

Xavier D. Urrutia Alamo Colleges District San Antonio, Texas

Greg A. Weitzel, CPRP City of Las Vegas Parks and Recreation Las Vegas, Nevada

Philip Wu, M.D. Formerly of Kaiser Permanente Northwest Region Portland, Oregon

@NationalRecreationandParkAssociation

Kong Chang

@nrpa_news

City of Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Saint Paul, Minnesota

@nrpa

Kevin Coyle

National Recreation and Park Association

National Wildlife Federation Reston, Virginia

Anne S. Close

Jose Felix Diaz

James H. Evans

Ballard Partners Miami, Florida

New York, New York

Victor Dover

Sugar Hill, New Hampshire

NRPA

CONNECT

parksandrecreation.org

nrpaconnect.org

@parksrecmag

nrpa.org/connect-app

openspaceradio.org

nrpa.org/blog

(or your favorite podcast app)

@openspaceradio

Beverly D. Chrisman Lexington, South Carolina Fort Mill, South Carolina

Rosemary Hall Evans Earl T. Groves

Richard Gulley

Charles E. Hartsoe, Ph.D.

City of San Diego Parks and Recreation Department San Diego, California J. Kardys Strategies Miami, Florida

Blog

LIFE TRUSTEES

Dover, Kohl & Partners Town Planning Miami, Florida

Jack Kardys

Previously with BREC Dallas, Texas

Secretary Carolyn McKnight, CPRP

President and CEO Kristine Stratton

NRPA SOCIAL MEDIA

Joanna Lombard University of Miami School of Architecture; Miller School of Medicine Department of Public Health Sciences Miami, Florida

Gastonia, North Carolina Richmond, Virginia

Harry G. Haskell, Jr. Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania

Kathryn A. Porter Mendham, New Jersey

Michael Kelly

Perry J. Segura

Chicago Park District Chicago, Illinois

New Iberia, Louisiana

R. Dean Tice

Karen Bates Kress

Round Hill, Virginia

Park Advocate Emigrant, Montana

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Eugene A. Young, CPRP

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EDITOR’S LETTER

Reflecting on the Past, Preparing for the Future January is a special time of year when we return from spending time with loved ones and reflect upon the people, places and events that shape our lives. Now, with happiness and gratitude top of mind, we turn our thoughts to the future, excited for what’s to come in the new year. In this issue, we do just that. We delve into topics that have permeated our recent work and values, including social justice and the brave leadership of all of the park and recreation professionals in our field. We also look ahead at the many up-and-coming park and recreation trends. Our cover feature, beginning on page 30, “Top Trends in Parks and Recreation 2020,” written by NRPA’s Vice President of Strategic Initiatives Rich Dolesh, provides his annual predictions about what will be trending in parks and recreation in the coming year. Ranging from topics of technology to health and from a tone of serious to humorous, this year’s predictions — as always — are certain to provide accurate insights into what your agency should be keeping on its radar. Next, the feature story on page 36, titled “Pricing Strategies That Combat Social Injustice,” by contributor John L. Crompton, Ph.D., reveals the ways that pricing strategies play a role in social justice and how park and recreation agencies can amend their pricing strategies to employ equitable practices across their offerings to best serve their communities. “‘Distributive justice’ frequently is used as a synonym for ‘social justice,’” he says, “[and] government entities are the primary institutions with responsibility to put distributive justice into operation.” Author and NRPA board member Dr. Joshua T. Medeiros, Ed.D., CPRP, AFO, shares the story of how a social media post by the City of Bristol Department of Parks, Recreation, Youth and Community Services (Connecticut) prompted a community-wide discussion about the park and recreation industry’s role in social equity. This feature, “Indigenous Peoples’ Day or Columbus Day: Lessons in Leadership and Risk-Taking,” on page 40, discusses how leadership can step up and take a stand to set an example for both their staff and the larger community. “In a risk-adverse municipal climate, my gut reaction was to not approve the post…” Dr. Medeiros says. “After some consideration, I decided ‘playing it safe’ was not the right choice in this situation.” Here, at NRPA, we are excited to start the new year by continuing to celebrate and support the exceptional profession and people we serve, the good work you have accomplished and all the great things you have yet to do. I know I am feeling refreshed and ready for the start of a wonderful new year — I hope you are too.

GINA MULLINS-COHEN Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Publishing Editorial Director

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PRESIDENT AND CEO Kristine Stratton VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING, COMMUNICATIONS AND PUBLISHING, AND EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Gina Mullins-Cohen gcohen@nrpa.org ASSOCIATE EDITOR Lindsay Collins lcollins@nrpa.org EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTOR Suzanne Nathan snathan@nrpa.org PUBLICATION DESIGN Kim Mabon/Creative By Design CreativeByDesign.net SENIOR SALES MANAGER EASTERN REGION AND EUROPE Kip Ongstad 703.858.2174 kongstad@nrpa.org SENIOR SALES MANAGER WESTERN REGION AND ASIA Michelle Dellner 949.248.1057 mdellner@nrpa.org SALES COORDINATOR Meghan Fredriksen 703.858.2190 mfredriksen@nrpa.org PHOTOGRAPHY Dreamstime.com or NRPA (unless otherwise noted) MAGAZINE ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS Anthony-Paul Diaz, Chair Michael Abbaté, FASLA Neelay Bhatt Ryan Eaker Beau Fieldsend Robert García Kathleen Gibi Paul Gilbert, CPRP Tim Herd, CPRE Brian Johnson, CPSI Denise Johnson-Caldwell Roslyn Johnson, CPRP Michele Lemons Sam Mendelsohn Maria Nardi Lisa Paradis, CPRP Paula Sliefert Shonnda Smith, CPRP, AFO Anne-Marie Spencer Stephen Springs


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RESEARCH The NRPA Park and Recreation Marketing and Communications Report By Kevin Roth

P

ark and recreation professionals say that one of their biggest challenges is getting the word out about their agencies’ vast offerings to the public. Park and recreation agencies deliver a wealth of opportunities that promote healthy living, environmental sustainability and community cohesion. At the same time, they are competing against often better-funded, private-sector providers, such as gyms and entertainment providers, for people’s limited dollars and free time. Building awareness of park and recreation offerings becomes even more difficult when agencies are unable to devote significant resources to marketing and communications efforts. The more community members know about a local agency’s amenities and programming, the more likely they are to take advantage of those offerings. Increasing numbers of participants in out-of-school activities and programs, rising attendance at annual festivals and robust community support for parks and recreation are just a few of the potential outcomes of well-executed marketing strategies. The benefits of greater awareness go beyond driving increased use of agency offerings. Heightened awareness can lead to more robust agency funding through larger and sustainable operating budgets, increased donations and sponsorships. While marketing and communications are at the heart of every successful agency, park and recreation leaders seek answers on how to build awareness in a competitive marketplace. To learn more about how park and recreation leaders are facing this challenge, the NRPA Research team conducted a 24-question survey in September. The resulting NRPA Park and Recreation Marketing and Commu-

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nications Report chronicles agencies’ marketing and communications goals, their partners and the resources they tap.

Limited Resources Park and recreation agencies dedicate a relatively small percentage of their annual operating budget — just 3 percent — to marketing their amenities and programming to the public. This percentage covers all aspects of marketing activities, from printing and design costs to paying for salaries and benefits of any employees. How park and recreation agencies allocate staff reflects their modest funding of marketing and communications strategies. Fiftysix percent of agencies have staff that delivers marketing and communications strategies and tactics for the entire organization. If a park and recreation agency does have a team dedicated to executing marketing and communications strategies and tactics, the function area tends to be a small shop with a median of 1.5 full-time equivalent employees (FTEs). At other agencies, there is

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no “marketing department;” instead, these agencies assign marketing and communications responsibilities to program managers.

The Importance of Partners Getting the word out to the public about all that parks and recreation has to offer is the primary goal of marketing and communications activities. To make this happen, agencies work with partners to costeffectively deliver the message. Park and recreation agencies rely on partners to promote their amenities, programs and offerings. Eighty-two percent of park and recreation agencies work with local public and private schools to promote their offerings. Two-thirds of park and recreation agencies work with libraries and two-thirds work with local businesses to distribute their marketing messages. Other frequently cited marketing and communications partners include: • Nonprofit organizations (e.g., the YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs of America) (48 percent) • Local health departments (21 percent) • Faith-based organizations (18 percent) • Public works departments (16 percent)

Common Communication Channels Park and recreation marketing and communications efforts encompass many methods, includ-


ing a mix of traditional and newera communications channels. The top three channels — social media, agency websites and email messages/newsletters — did not exist a quarter of a century ago. But, not all communications are digital. Traditional printed communications remain a feature at most park and recreation agencies. They include: • Poster/flyer in agency facilities (cited by 89 percent of respondents) • Printed program guide/catalog (75 percent) • Printed newsletter (42 percent) • Direct-mail campaigns (31 percent) While park and recreation agencies deliver marketing and communications messaging via many channels, not all are effective. Park and recreation professionals consider four channels as the most effective ones for marketing park and recreation amenities, programs and events: • Social media (85 percent) • Printed program guide/catalog (45 percent) • Agency/government website (41 percent) • Email messages and newsletters (36 percent)

Reaching All Community Members Parks and recreation is for everyone. The most successful agencies ensure that all members of a community enjoy their amenities and offerings. But to ensure that all community members can take advantage of such programs, park and recreation agencies must embrace marketing and communications techniques that reach community members they previously missed. This includes marketing amenities and programming in

languages other than English. Thirty-four percent of park and recreation agencies create and distribute marketing and communications collateral in at least one additional language besides English. This material may include printed and electronic messages, language-specific social media accounts and agency websites that have translation functionality. Spanish is the most common second language park and recreation agencies use in their marketing and communications materials, followed by Korean, Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese and French.

Read the Full Report and Take the Next Steps To read the full NRPA Park and Recreation Marketing and Communications Report visit nrpa.org/ MarketingReport. You also may want to review the Awareness and the Use of Parks Report (nrpa.org/ ParkAwareness) published last year. Prepared by GP/RED on behalf of NRPA, this report explores the role awareness plays in driving park and recreation use. It also provides access to a series of steps and a checklist that park and recreation leaders should consider when executing an awareness strategy. You or a member of your team should consider earning the NRPA Marketing and Communications Certificate (www.nrpa.org/Mar ketingCertificate). This online program provides the knowledge, skills and strategies needed to build and execute effective park and recreation marketing and communications campaigns that will help you better connect with your community.

Whichever next step you choose to take, I encourage you to work closely with your peers across town and across our nation to identify effective ways to raise awareness of your agency’s offerings. This will not only drive additional use, but also build critical support among elected officials and the general public for everything you do. I look forward to continuing the conversation on how your agency raises awareness of its activities. Kevin Roth is Vice President of Professional Development, Research and Technology at NRPA (kroth@nrpa.org).

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NRPA PARK PULSE

Parks and Recreation: A Cure for Winter Inactivity

86%

The large majority (86%) of U.S. adults say their physical activity level changes during the winter.

58%

More than half (58%) are less active, while slightly more than a quarter (27%) are more active.

Physical activity levels vary based upon age and geographic location.

People who live in the Northeast, Midwest and South are less active than people who live in the West during the winter months.

Local park and recreation agencies provide a variety of indoor and outdoor options to beat winter inactivity.

Options include: Recreation Centers (with gyms and fitness centers), Martial Arts, Aquatics, Fitness Enhancement Classes, Ice Rinks, and Trails for Walking, Hiking, Running and/or Biking.

Each month, through a poll of 1,000 U.S. residents focused on park and recreation issues, NRPA Park Pulse helps tell the park and recreation story. Questions span from the serious to the more lighthearted. The survey was conducted by Wakefield Research (www.wakefieldresearch.com).

Visit nrpa.org/ParkPulse for more information.


19_2578_Parks n Rec_JAN Mod: November 12, 2019 1:30 PM Print: 12/05/19 10:19:32 AM page 1 v7

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W W W. PA R K S A N D R E C R E AT I O N . O R G | J A N U A RY 2 02 0 |

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PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF MENTOR: THE NATIONAL MENTORING PARTNERSHIP

ADVOCACY

Celebrating National Mentoring Month Shining a light on mentors and engaging elected officials By Abbie Evans

J

anuary is National Mentoring Month, a time to celebrate mentors and mentoring in equal measure. This campaign, launched in 2002, has strong support from the public and offers a chance for programs to recruit new volunteer mentors for the year ahead.

Campaigns like National Mentoring Month offer up a great opportunity to engage with elected officials at all levels. Every year in Congress, the House and Senate offer bipartisan resolutions honoring January as National Mentoring Month, and every United States President since the campaign’s inception has issued yearly proclamations in celebration. But state- and localelected leaders are as interested in engaging in these campaigns as their federal peers.

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Parks & Recreation

Mentoring at State and Local Levels Throughout January, governors, mayors, and state and city officials will be eager to learn more about high-quality, effective mentoring services and to gain a better understanding of the challenges facing programs and service providers. These officials can celebrate National Mentoring Month by: • Proclaiming January as National Mentoring Month • Drafting an op-ed celebrating the progress of local mentoring programs

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• Hosting events that invite young people to reflect on the value of their mentor(s) • Spotlighting mentors in their own life • Visiting mentoring programs (hint: invite them to visit your program) • Inspiring their staff and constituents to volunteer as mentors Mentoring provides youth with someone who cares, assures them that they are not alone in dealing with day-to-day challenges and makes them feel like they matter. Research confirms that quality-mentoring relationships have powerful, positive effects on young people in a variety of personal, academic and professional situations. Ultimately, mentoring provides personal growth


and development, as well as social and economic opportunities. According to MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, 1 in 3 young people are growing up without a mentor today. We call this the “mentoring gap.” These 9 million young people lack a powerful, caring adult relationship outside of their family. This statistic especially is concerning when considering the compounding benefits of quality youth mentoring. Mentored youth are: • 55 percent more likely to be enrolled in college • 81 percent more likely to regularly participate in sports or extracurricular activities • 46 percent less likely to start using illegal drugs

• 27 percent less likely to start drinking • 78 percent more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities

Recruitment Research conducted by MENTOR reveals that 44 percent of adults are not mentoring but are interested in the possibility. This represents potentially millions of adults in the United States. Many young people are waiting to be paired with a caring adult through programs. Nearly half of all mentoring programs report mentor recruitment among their toughest challenges. But, elected officials can help. Leaders can grant city, state and federal employees paid leave to become mentors. MENTOR suggests granting

In January, NRPA is launching a new initiative, Mentoring in Parks and Rec. Through this initiative, NRPA will work to help agencies connect youth with caring and compassionate mentors. Learn more about these efforts at www.nrpa.org/ partnerships/initiatives. 4 to 8 hours of paid volunteer leave per month to eligible employees. Elected leaders can help mentoring programs of all shapes and sizes by bringing potential funders and nonprofit programs together to discuss their shared values and potential partnerships. Engaging elected officials allows agencies to tout their exciting mentoring efforts and to begin or deepen valuable relationships with leaders. Use National Mentoring Month to start this work. Learn about National Mentoring Month and find free resources at www. NationalMentoringMonth.org. Abbie Evans is Senior Director, Government Relations for MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership (aevans@mentoring.org).

Oh, the endless days! Gathered together Reveling in the joy of play. Where watery wonders excite us Unite us And invite us to set our imaginations free.

©2019 Landscape Structures Inc. All rights reserved.

To learn more and inspire your outdoors, visit aquatix.playlsi.com.

W W W. PA R K S A N D R E C R E AT I O N . O R G | J A N U A RY 2 02 0 |

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LAW REVIEW

Policy Immunity Challenged in Hazardous Tree Deaths By James C. Kozlowski, J.D., Ph.D.

I

n the case of Kim v. United States, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 30340 (9th Cir. 10/10/2019), the issue before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit was whether “the Federal Tort Claims Act bars a suit against federal officials for their failure to prevent the deaths of two boys who were killed when a tree limb fell onto their tent in Yosemite National Park.” On August 14, 2015, Daniel and Grace Kim; their daughter, Hannah; their teenaged son, Dragon; and their son’s friend, Justin Lee, were camping in Campsite 29 of the Upper Pines Campground in Yosemite National Park. Around 5 a.m., a limb from a large oak tree overhanging the campsite broke and fell on the tent where the two boys were sleeping, killing them. The Kims and Justin Lee’s parents (collectively, “the fami-

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lies”) sued the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), alleging that National Park Service (NPS) officials were responsible for the accident. The families’ complaint alleged that NPS officials knew or should have known of the danger posed by the tree, but negligently failed to abate that danger and to warn campers about it. In the federal district court, the federal government successfully moved to dismiss the com-

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plaint under the FTCA’s discretionary function exception. This law prohibits tort claims against the United States that are “based upon the government’s exercise or performance or the failure to exercise or perform a discretionary function or duty” (28 U.S.C. § 2680(a)). After reviewing Yosemite’s policies regarding tree maintenance, the federal district court found that decisions regarding “how to evaluate and respond to tree hazards” were subject to the discretion of park officials. Accordingly, the federal district court dismissed the complaint on the basis these negligence claims were “barred by the discretionary function exception.” The families appealed.


Discretionary Function Exception As cited by the federal appeals court, the FTCA discretionary function exception provides as follows: The FTCA generally authorizes private parties to sue the United States for the tortious conduct of federal officials, but the discretionary function exception bars suit under the FTCA for “any claim based upon the exercise or performance or the failure to exercise or perform a discretionary function or duty whether or not the discretion involved be abused.” 28 U.S.C. § 2680(a). As noted by the court: “The point of the exception is to prevent judicial second-guessing of legislative and administrative decisions grounded in social, economic and political policy.” The federal appeals court would conduct a two-step evaluation in determining whether the FTCA discretionary function exception applied. In the first step, the court would determine whether “the challenged actions involve an element of judgment or choice.” In so doing, the federal appeals court acknowledged discretionary function exception would not apply if “a statute or policy directs mandatory and specific action.” As characterized by the court, “there can be no element of discretion when an employee has no rightful option but to adhere to the directive.” If the government’s actions “do involve an element of judgment,” the court would conduct the second step to determine “whether that judgment is of the kind that the discretionary function exception was designed to shield, namely, only governmental actions and decisions based on considerations

of public policy.” Further, the court noted: “The relevant choice must be susceptible to some consideration of social, economic or political policy.”

Tree Hazard Inspection Discretion In this case, the families claimed the following actions by the government were “not subject to policy-based discretion of the sort covered by the exception”: (1) park officials’ alleged failure to identify the danger presented by the tree that collapsed and (2) their alleged failure to abate and to provide warnings about such danger. In response, the NPS reiterated the finding of the federal district court that the negligence claims in this case failed, because “the discretionary function exception bars any claim based upon park officials’ alleged failure to discover a specific tree hazard in the park.” The government argued, “park officials maintain significant discretion over how best to inspect trees in Yosemite, and thus they cannot be held liable for failing to identify the danger posed by the tree in question.” Moreover, the government claimed, “park officials exercised considerable discretion over even whether to inspect the tree in question for hazards.” According to the government, applicable NPS park policies at Yosemite “do not require any particular trees to be inspected, but state only that surveys of trees should occur in developed areas of the park ‘on a regular periodic basis.’” However, the federal appeals court found it was unnecessary to “decide whether the government is right about the nature of its supposed discretion over which areas to inspect,” because park officials

actually had undertaken inspection of trees in the area where the accident occurred: The government admits that in each of the two years prior to the accident the Upper Pines Campground was inspected, and hundreds of hazard trees were identified and abated, though those inspections did not identify the subject tree as hazardous. Accordingly, having made the decision to inspect the campground, the issue before the appeals court was “whether park officials are shielded from liability for their conduct in actually inspecting that area once they undertook to do so.” In deciding this issue, “once the choice to pursue a project is made,” the court would look at “the nature of the actions in conducting the project, not the decision to undertake it.” In other words, the deciding is immune, but the doing is not. Once the decision is made to do something, it must be implemented in a non-negligent fashion.

Having undertaken tree inspection in the campground, the federal appeals court found that “park officials were required to do so in accordance with their established policies.” In this instance, once park officials had decided to inspect a tree, the government argued “their determination of the extent of the hazard posed by such tree is shielded by the discretionary function exception.” Having undertaken tree inspection in the campground, the federal appeals court found that “park officials were required to do so in accordance with their established policies.”

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LAW REVIEW

en-Point system instead of some other method for evaluating trees.” However, once this decision was made in Directive No. 25 to adopt the Seven-Point system, the federal appeals court found “the implementation of such system cannot be said to turn on those same policy considerations that went into the choice to adopt the system.” In particular, the court held that the decision made in Directive No. 25 “must now be followed” without regard for “the policy considerations that went into the choice to adopt the system”: We have generally held that the design of a course of governmental action is shielded by the discretionary function exception, whereas the implementation of that course of action is not.

In this case, the government argued the implementation of the rating system was shielded by the discretionary function exception because “the system itself requires officials to consider questions of public policy. Hazardous Tree Management Directive The federal appeals court cited Yosemite Park Directive No. 25, which set forth the park’s “Hazard Tree Management” program. As noted by the court, this program specified “how park officials are to evaluate the risk posed by trees they inspect”: Directive No. 25 states that Yosemite implements the ‘Seven-Point’ (Mills and Russell 20 Parks & Recreation

1980) system, a professionally recognized, documented and quantified hazard tree rating system. An appendix to the directive details the Seven-Point system, under which each tree is assigned a “Total Hazard Rating” (ranging from two to seven) that combines a “Defect Rating” based on the tree’s potential for physical failure and a “Target Rating” based on the potential impact in the event of a failure. The system provides specific criteria for how to rate each component based on the tree’s visible features and the nature of the surrounding area. Trees with a total rating of five or higher are considered “high” risks and, according to the directive, “will require some type of abatement/mitigation.” The federal appeals court acknowledged that “park officials certainly had substantial discretion in choosing whether to adopt the Sev-

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Technical Safety Considerations In this case, the government argued the implementation of the rating system was shielded by the discretionary function exception because “the system itself requires officials to consider questions of public policy. The federal appeals court agreed that the implementation of a government policy would be shielded by the discretionary function exception, but only “where the implementation itself implicates policy concerns.” As characterized by the appeals court, the government’s argument erroneously conflated “policy considerations with technical considerations.” The appeals court noted that scientific and professional judgments concerning safety were “rarely considered to be susceptible to social, economic or political policy” within the scope of the discretionary function exception.


In the opinion of the federal appeals court, the park’s rating system required “scientific and professional judgment” related to safety. In particular, the court noted the system directed park officials to “assign certain hazard ratings based on a tree’s structural defects and its likelihood of damaging various park features.” While acknowledging “the system requires the careful — perhaps even difficult — application of specialized knowledge,” the court found the “only flexibility built into the rating system [was] to accommodate additional technical considerations.” As noted by the court, the rating system would only “allow officials to modify the standards to reflect variations in tree species and environmental factors.”

therefore, concluded the federal government was not immune under the FTCA discretionary function exception. But the appeals court acknowledged, in a full trial in the federal district court, it was

“unclear whether the families will succeed in showing that officials were actually negligent in evaluating the tree under the Seven-Point system.” That being said, the court noted

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No Public Policy in Rating Trees In the opinion of the court, the mere fact that experts may hold “opposing views as to what rating should have been assigned to the tree” would not establish that such technical analysis “somehow turns on questions of public policy”: Even if the Seven-Point system requires officials to make difficult choices, it still does not ask them to make policy choices and it does not afford them an opportunity to rate a tree based on their social, economic or political views. Accordingly, “once park officials undertook to evaluate the danger of the trees in the campground,” the federal appeals court held that the government officials “were required to do so according to the technical criteria set forth in the park’s official policies.” The federal appeals court,

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In the opinion of the federal appeals court, the directive did require “some type of mitigation,” listing “a wide range of specific mitigation efforts that NPS officials may undertake.” that the families’ complaint adequately had alleged the government’s negligent “failure to discover the danger presented by the tree.” This was evident in the fact that the park officials allegedly “knew of such danger, because the tree had similarly broken in the past and had begun to bow noticeably above the campsite in question.” In response, the government

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argued the park officials lacked actual knowledge that the tree presented a hazard because records indicated “the tree in question was not selected for abatement during 2014 and 2015 surveys of the campground.” In dismissing the complaint, the appeals court noted that the district court had not provided the families with an opportunity to conduct pretrial discovery to determine what the park officials actually knew and whether they had “rated the subject tree as a high or very high hazard.”

No Discretion to Do Nothing Assuming park officials “knew or should have known about the danger posed by the tree,” the government argued “the families’ negligence-based claims are still barred

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because park officials had significant discretion regarding what to do in response to that danger.” “[While] park officials had discretion regarding what to do in response to the danger,” the families claimed that “applicable policies required officials to do something, including at least to warn campers.” In so doing, the families contended “the government’s failure to do anything at all to mitigate the risk was not subject to the sort of policy choices protected by the discretionary function exception.” The federal appeals court agreed that “the extent and nature of park officials’ discretion over how to address hazardous trees is defined by Yosemite Directive No. 25.” Under the park’s Seven-Point system, the families had argued “the tree should have been rated a five or a six...a ‘high’ risk, according to Directive No. 25.” Moreover, pursuant to the directive, trees rated “high risk or above require a management action,” and “will require some type of abatement/mitigation.” In the opinion of the federal appeals court, the directive did require “some type of mitigation,” listing “a wide range of specific mitigation efforts that NPS officials may undertake — from pruning or repairing the tree to removing it or closing the surrounding area.” Given the wide range of specific mitigation measures available to park officials under the required directive, the government argued that the park officials maintained significant policy-based discretion in deciding how best to handle the hazard posed by the tree. The federal appeals court agreed that the discretionary function exception might indeed bar “a claim


challenging the government’s choice of one mitigation approach over some other.” The court, however, found the government’s argument ignored the families’ claim that “park officials failed to satisfy their baseline duty to do something about the tree”: Even if the directive gives officials broad leeway in deciding how to abate the danger posed by a high-risk tree, the directive still instructs that they do something toward that goal. Given the requirements of Yosemite Directive No. 25 “to abate the hazard,” the federal appeals court held that a decision to do “nothing at all” would not be immune from liability under the FTCA discretionary function exception.

Warn of Known Dangers The families further claimed “Park officials were negligent in failing to warn visitors that the tree was dangerous.” Based upon the following language in Directive No. 25, the federal appeals court found park officials had a duty to “warn visitors of known dangers”: The park will provide reasonable public information about the known potential for risk of exposure in the park to hazard tree conditions. The intent is to make the public aware of potential tree hazards that are known to exist in developed areas within the park or sections of the park. This information/public outreach should be on a level commensurate with other public safety information. In response to the families’ failure-to-warn claim, the federal appeals court further found “the government has not identified even a single policy-based consideration

that might stop park officials from notifying visitors about known tree hazards.” Instead, as described by the court, the government had simply asserted a conclusory statement “without elaboration, that the decision whether to post a warning is subject to policy considerations.” The court, however, noted that the support for the government’s statement was “a provision in Directive No. 25, which states that, prior to taking any action to abate tree hazards, a review of resource issues should be made considering the various environmental laws and the resources potentially impacted.” In the opinion of the court, this statement reflected environmental management of park resources and had “nothing to do with posting warnings.” As characterized by the court, this statement “specifically applies to the government’s consideration of how best to abate the hazard itself, for example, by pruning or repairing trees or closing endangered areas of the park.” Moreover, the court noted this statement directives followed a separate instruction to “provide reasonable public information about hazardous tree conditions.” Accordingly, in the opinion of the federal appeals court, “fulfilling the park’s duty to inform visitors somehow about that risk does not involve considerations of public policy”: A decision not to warn of a specific, known hazard for which the acting agency is responsible is not the kind of broader social, economic or political policy decision that the discretionary function exception is intended to protect....A failure to warn involves considerations of safety, not public policy.

Having found that the discretionary function exception did not apply to the duty of park officials “to take some action to abate a high-risk tree,” the federal appeals court reversed the district court’s dismissal of the families’ negligence-based claims and remanded (i.e., sent back) this case to the federal district court to conduct further proceedings. As a result, the federal appeals court held: “the discretionary function exception does not bar the families’ claim that the government negligently failed to give park visitors any warning about the tree.”

Going Back to Trial Having found that the discretionary function exception did not apply to the duty of park officials “to take some action to abate a high-risk tree,” the federal appeals court reversed the district court’s dismissal of the families’ negligence-based claims and remanded (i.e., sent back) this case to the federal district court to conduct further proceedings. On remand, the federal district court would conduct a trial to determine whether park officials “knew or should have known of the danger posed by the tree, but negligently failed to abate that danger and to warn campers about it.” James C. Kozlowski, J.D., Ph.D., is an Attorney and Associate Professor in the School of Sport, Recreation and Tourism at George Mason University (jkozlows@gmu.edu). Webpage with link to law review articles archive (1982 to present): http:// mason.gmu.edu/~jkozlows.

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H E A LT H & W E L L N E S S

Farmers Markets, Parks and Rec, and Healthy Meals

Berea Kids Eat involves children visiting farmers markets to teach them about local agriculture and get them excited about eating fresh, healthy foods while fostering a sense of leadership and pride.

By Maureen Acquino

A

cross the country, park and recreation (P&R) agencies are becoming increasingly involved in farmers markets. It makes perfect sense — P&R has the space, the resources and the community trust to host these connections to local agriculture. But, how can agencies ensure that programming offered at markets supports the health and well-being of the whole community?

Planting the Seeds Involving kids in the market process not only is a great way to teach them about local agriculture, but also builds interest and excitement about eating fresh, healthy foods. With support from the Walmart Foundation, 2019 Increasing Access to Healthy Foods grantee (nrpa.org/Healthy FoodsGrant) Grow Appalachia: Berea Kids Eat, located in Berea, Kentucky, began to plant the seeds, both figuratively and literally, to get 24 Parks & Recreation

kids excited about produce. Partnering with local organizations, like churches and schools, Berea Kids Eat designed out-of-school time programs focused on gardening and cooking. Using the Grow It, Try It, Like It model, kids in the summer program designed garden plots, planted veggies and herb seeds, learned about the growing cycle, and used their harvested goodies in on-site cooking classes. This model helped build the connection of garden to kitchen to table.

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Seeing the excitement in kids around these activities, Berea Kids Eat decided to involve the kids in their community farmers markets. Kids were invited to take part in a monthly junior market, an element of the weekly Saturday farmers market located in a downtown park. As entrepreneurs, the junior market vendors were encouraged to bring the goodies they harvested from the community garden, along with arts and crafts they made, to the market to price and sell to community members. This instilled a sense of leadership and pride in these vendors. Building on the momentum created through engaging kids, and the number of kids who came with their families on non-junior market weeks, Berea Kids Eat decided


Children in the Berea Kids Eat summer program take part in gardening activities, such as designing garden plots and planting herbs and vegetables.

the Saturday market, as well as a Tuesday evening market, were the perfect locations to begin serving meals through the USDA Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). Examples of P&R sites implementing SFSP meals during farmers markets are popping up across the industry. According to USDA, these partnerships increase access to the local seasonal bounty during the summer months and help keep kids and their families nourished and active while school is out.

Berea Kids Eat Partnership In Berea, the meals, along with additional activities during market hours, helped to grow the attendance at each market. During the summer of 2019, Tuesday markets averaged 40 to 70 customers — a dramatic increase of more than 300 percent from previous Tuesday markets, and attendance at the Saturday market jumped from 110 to 256 daily customers. Berea credits the programming, as well as the market location, with the success found this past summer. Berea Kids Eat partnered with parks and rec to move the Tuesday market to a park pavilion located near Berea College student housing, three local daycares, an intergenerational center and low-income apartment complexes. Additionally, Berea Kids Eat initiated and helped navigate the Saturday Farmers Market move to a city park plaza, after working with the city to install shade structures around existing benches. To support the meals served at farmers markets, Berea Kids Eat worked to incorporate nutritional programming, using the NRPA’s Foods of the Month nutrition literacy curriculum (nrpa.org/Com

mitToHealth) by distributing recipe cards and hosting taste tests during the weekly markets. USDA suggests using this type of engagement to support meal sites at markets, creating full community buy in. Along with sharing recipes and hosting taste tests, some other engagement ideas include: • Menu alignment – Providing a meal that includes the same fresh produce available for purchase at the market. • Complimentary activities – In partnership with other local organizations, consider offering fun nutrition and wellness-focused activities. For example, a local library could host story time and give free books to children to encourage reading throughout the summer months. • Kick-off event – Make it a party! Celebrate the start of the season with a kick-off event, helping to raise awareness about the market and the summer meals program. • Engage with producers – Organize a scavenger hunt with the farmers market vendors, which can lead to some great conversations between kids and growers.

Community Wellness Hubs The city of Berea has expanded these ideas and uses its weekly market spaces to serve as community wellness hubs. Partnering with informal educators, the space hosts environmental educational programming for youth joining for summer meals, as well as outdoor family yoga classes and a Sprouts program, which connects youth ages 18 and under to a small stipend to purchase fresh produce from vendors. The market, parks and a summer meal partnership also opened oppor-

tunities for families to increase purchasing by utilizing EBT/ SNAP, Double Dollars, youth market tokens, the free produce store, weekend backpack meals and summer meals. One mother shared that since taking advantage of all these offerings, $20 spent at the market has equaled more than $80 worth of food, has provided space for her children to eat regularly and has helped get them to the park, as well as enabled her to get to know her neighbors. As a result of the free produce store reaching her neighborhood, she has been able to try some new foods from the provided recipe cards, and now her kids want to learn how to grow food. Pairing fresh, local produce with healthy meals is the perfect connection to strengthen the bonds between the community and the local agriculture system. Check out USDA’s Farm to Summer website (https://tinyurl.com/rhyqdr7), and the Farmers Market and Summer Meals Program fact sheet for an overview of the potential farmers markets and summer meals partnerships.. Maureen Acquino is a Program Manager at NRPA (macquino@nrpa.org).

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CONSERVATION

Using Advanced Technology to Reach Our Conservation Goals By Karl Schrass

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s 2020 begins, we prepare to celebrate the 50th anniversary of both Earth Day and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This offers a time to look back and recognize the strides we have made in conservation, as well as to look to the future and determine what tools and tactics we need to address today’s threats. During the past 50 years, the policies and institutions established during the early 1970s have profoundly benefited the health of our environment and our communities. Despite these successes, today we face even more complex crises, such as climate change, species extinction and the pervasive impacts of plastic pollution, just to name a few. In many ways, we find ourselves, 50 years after the first Earth Day, at a similar inflection point and must act with urgency to im-

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prove the sustainability, resilience and health of our parks and the communities that they serve. While today’s challenges are daunting and complex, we also are equipped with new tools to help us identify and implement creative and scalable solutions.

than computers. A modern smartphone is more than 3,000 times more powerful than the state-ofthe-art microprocessor that was first developed in 1971. This quantum leap forward in computing power has created powerful new tools for understanding our world. Specifically, the ability to collect big data and analyze it using artificial intelligence (AI) can provide park and recreation professionals with novel insights and inform their decision making.

Living in a Computerized World

AI Mapping: 200 Million Images in 10 Minutes

Throughout these five decades, nothing has changed the way we live every aspect of our lives more

In December 2016, the nonprofit Chesapeake Conservancy released one of the largest,

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high-resolution land-cover maps made in the United States. The map covers 100,000 square miles, including the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the surrounding area. Stretching from the Adirondack Mountains to Virginia Beach, it covers more than 200 cities and counties across the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. This map has resolution to one meter, making it 900 times more detailed than most land-cover maps of the United States. Using the previous land-cover map, more than 1 in 10 of Baltimore’s parks would have been too small to show up at all, while now you can pick out individual trees. The initial development of this map used a combination of semi-automated computer models and human classification and took 30 staff members 10 months to complete. While 10 months to develop a data layer of this size and scale is an impressive feat, it would need to be much less costly in both time and money to be scalable. To this end, the Chesapeake Conservancy has been partnering with Microsoft and its AI for Earth (www.microsoft.com/ en-us/ai/ai-for-earth) initiative to apply the methods developed for the Chesapeake Bay to national data, using AI and a highly specialized computer chip. As a result of this collaboration, Microsoft has been able to analyze 200 million satellite images and produce a beta land-cover map for the entire United States in only 10 minutes and for a total cost of $42. As technology leaders like Microsoft release tools and resources that help us get highly detailed and accurate data of our world, it is

incumbent that park professionals understand how to use these tools and apply them to make smarter decisions in the creation, design and management of their parks.

Machine Listening: Deciphering the Noise Located on the north shore of Long Island, New York, the Avalon Park and Preserve is a private park that provides more than 140 acres of forests and meadows for wildlife habitat and for people to enjoy. As part of a master planning effort at the park, Andropogon, a landscape architecture firm, took an innovative approach and used recording devices to capture the soundscape of the park. Deploying teams of youth citizen scientists with microphones to different locations throughout the park, they captured recordings of the ambient sounds at each site during different times of the day and in different seasons. After collecting this data, the landscape architects and their partners used machine listening and an AI technique for audio data to classify the sources of the sound on the recording as either animal, physical (wind, water) or manmade. This data was then combined with the results of a Bioblitz (nrpa. org/Parks4Pollinators-Bioblitz) to identify those specific areas of the park that had the highest biodiversity and the times of day when the wildlife, mostly birds, was most active and vocal. Using this data, the park management could ensure that programming designed to connect kids with nature was located and scheduled to ensure the most contact with the wildlife in the park. In addition, they used this sound-

Every day, more data is being created. Understanding how we, as park professionals and conservationists, can analyze that data for insights will help us create and manage great parks that can continue to thrive in the future. scape data to rearrange potential user conflicts within the park — for example, to ensure that noisy park maintenance activities were not scheduled at the same time as activities that require quiet, such as yoga or birdwatching. The capabilities of machine listening are rapidly evolving. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, creators of the renowned citizen science tool eBird, have recently released a prototype of the new app BirdNET (birdnet.cornell.edu) that identifies nearly 1,000 of the most common bird species just by listening to an audio sample. As these and other tools continue to evolve, they can be used to quickly, cheaply and accurately gather data on the biodiversity present across our country. These are just two examples of how the latest developments in computer and data science have been applied to issues relevant to conservation. Every day, more data is being created. Understanding how we, as park professionals and conservationists, can analyze that data for insights will help us create and manage great parks that can continue to thrive in the future. Karl Schrass is Director of Conservation at NRPA (kschrass@nrpa.org).

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PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF ALEXIS MCKENNEY, ED.D., CTRS

SOCIAL EQUITY

Advocacy and the Changing Attitudes Toward Disability Study abroad program focuses on people with disabilities By Alexis McKenney, Ed.D., CTRS

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ttitudes people without disabilities develop toward people with disabilities occur as a result of shared interactions, according to an article in the NASPA Journal. A study published in Therapeutic Recreation Journal examined whether disability simulation activities changed attitudes and fostered empathy toward people with disabilities. “Attitude Changes Following Participation in Disability Simulation Activities” examined 10 participants — comprised of males and females, ages 20 to 30 — who participated in an inclusive, recreation services, study abroad program.

Social Model of Disability This study was grounded in the social model of disability, a model that centers on the argument that limitations are a result of a lack of accommodations provided by society. Participants experienced physical and emotional challenges while accessing transportation, restaurants and other sites. The model helped shift partic28 Parks & Recreation

ipants’ focus from seeing disability as a private experience to examining their role in increasing accessibility.

Mixed-Methods Approach The researchers employed a threephase, mixed-methods research design that used transformative procedures. The Attitudes Toward Disabled Persons (ATDP) scale and the

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Multidimensional Attitudes Scale Toward Persons with Disabilities (MAS) scale were administered at the beginning and end of the study. Disability simulation activities, debriefings and observations occurred abroad during the second phase. The third phase consisted of qualitative interviews followed by an in-depth thematic analysis of responses.

Disability Simulation Activities Disability simulation activities allow participants to better understand and to address barriers encountered by people with disabilities. Participants experienced positive attitude changes. Qualitative results revealed


that the participants transitioned from a sympathetic response to an empathetic response to an advocacy response. Four primary themes (sympathetic, empathetic, advocacy and culminating responses) and one secondary theme (socioemotional skill development) emerged. Sympathetic Responses were demonstrated when participants voiced feelings of frustration, anger and sympathy when participating in and reflecting on initial activities. One student explains how prior to the simulations she “would feel a sort of pity towards people with disabilities” because she could do things they couldn’t, but after participating in the activities, she realized it does not have to be this way in many circumstances. Empathetic Responses started to

emerge during the second interviews. One student says, “Everyone should be able to experience the same things. As we did both activities, I found that my emotions have really evolved….I don’t feel pity, I feel more empathy for people with disabilities.” Advocacy Responses emerged during the final debriefings and interviews. One student wonders how she could “make this world more inclusive, so that we may all have the opportunity to enjoy everything equally.” Culminating Reactions were evident in participants’ comments reflecting on the entire experience. A student says, “People live different lives than we do, and being in the wheelchair really allowed me to experience life in a whole new way.” Socioemotional Skill Development

emerged when participants expressed how they built other skills, including communicate and show patience.

Creating a Fully Accessible Society Short-term disability simulation experiences can cause participants to focus on difficulties, become frustrated and sympathetic, and believe people with disabilities lack the ability to live independently. But the challenges and intensive debriefings in this study helped participants’ feelings evolve from sympathy to advocacy. The disability simulation activities helped them understand and accept their role in creating a fully accessible society. Alexis McKenney, Ed.D., CTRS, is a Professor and Recreational Therapy Program Director at Temple University (mckenney@temple.edu).

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TOP TRENDS in Parks and Recreation 2020

A look at the hot topics park and rec professionals will be talking about in the new year By Richard J. Dolesh

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t’s that time of year again to introduce NRPA’s eagerly anticipated, always interesting and surprisingly prescient look at the top trends in parks and recreation for the coming year. These trends are a combination of sober predictions about the profound changes happening in our lives on an almost daily basis along with blue-sky thinking about the future and just a touch of tongue-in-cheek humor.

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Package deliveries to park patrons by drones will be here much sooner than you think.

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TOP TRENDS

TECHNOLOGY Video Surveillance Coming to a Park Near You Video camera surveillance in parks and facilities is exploding. Rapidly improving technology, advances in miniaturization and economies of scale from mass production are making video surveillance equipment affordable. One agency says that it started video monitoring in 2005 with 60 cameras and now has 3,000 cameras in its parks, community centers and along trails. Access to a power source is no longer a requirement — solar-powered cameras can be placed in remote locations. In response to a question about receiving any pushback from the public, the agency responded that not only were there no complaints, but it couldn’t keep up with the number of requests from the community for new cameras.

Prediction:

More than onethird of park and rec agencies will have video surveillance in their facilities and parks in 2020, and the public will want more.

Drones in Parks — More of Them, More Often With Amazon, UPS, FedEx and other big shipping companies aggressively looking to get a leg up on the projected billions of packages that could be delivered by drones to consumers, it is not surprising to read that Amazon has applied for a patent to implement drone delivery by “intermodal” shipping. Large containers pre-loaded with products would be shipped by rail, ships and trucks, where autonomous robots would load products onto drones that are launched from the containers and delivered to nearby consumers. Some park and rec agencies have been very reluctant to allow recreational and commercial drones in their parks, even though they love the thought of using drones Up next: Esports coaches at park and rec community centers.

Prediction:

In 2020, at least 25 drone businesses will deliver pizza and beer to beachgoers and picnickers in local and state parks.

Esports Coaches Coming Soon to Rec Centers Several media outlets have reported on the proliferation of esports gamers hiring coaches so that players can improve their performance. It parallels a similar trend in youth athletics where well-to-do parents subsidize their kids who are aspiring to elite status through “pay-toplay” participation. Esports gaming is now a more than half-billion dollar per-year form of entertainment. Many innovating park and rec agencies are starting to build esports gaming rooms and even facilities.

Prediction:

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF VICTOR MORENO PHOTOGRAPHY

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for natural resources inventory, inspection of remote park areas, and search and rescue operations. Do you think drones aren’t coming to your parks soon? Be on the lookout for food-and-beer drone trucks, or better yet, food-and-beer drone boats, delivering hot and tasty food and cool and frosty beverages to park patrons on your beaches and in your picnic areas. Really, this is not far-fetched future thinking; it is right around the corner, pending just a few more FAA approvals.

It’s a nobrainer to predict that park and rec agencies will begin to contract with esports coaches and offer recreation classes or personal training opportunities at community and rec centers. At least 50 esports programs with coaching will be offered in park and recreation centers in 2020.

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HEALTH How Are You Going to Kill Weeds Without Glyphosate? The application of the most commonly used weed killer in the world, glyphosate, likely soon will be banned in your community and in your park system. Although the EPA declared the pesticide safe in 2019, controversy over the safety of glyphosate continues to grow, fueled by a growing body of evidence regarding the negative effects on human health as well as on wildlife — such as bees and aquatic life. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” More than 18,000 lawsuits alleging that the herbicide causes cancer have been filed against chemical giant Bayer, which recently bought Monsanto, the manufacturer of Roundup and other glyphosate products. Cities and counties already are banning the use of glyphosate, leaving park and rec agencies few alternatives to halt the spread of invasive species and control aggressive weeds in park landscapes.

Prediction:

While only a handful of agencies, cities and counties presently ban the use of glyphosate, in a stunning reversal of business as usual, more than 250 jurisdictions and agencies will ban it in 2020, causing a wholesale change in landscape management practices to control weeds in parks.

Climate Change Impacts Some communities in the Southwest United States, such as Phoenix, now have more than 100 days a year when the temperature exceeds 100 degrees

Parks will inevitably face greater impacts from climate crises in the coming year, including floods, droughts, wildfires, extreme heat and storms.

Fahrenheit. But the South and Southwest are not the only areas that will face climate crises from extreme heat. During future heat waves, temperatures are predicted to exceed 115 degrees in many U.S. cities, causing train tracks to buckle and the tires of parked cars to melt into pavement, not to mention the effects on humans. That unsustainable future is not so far away. According to Climate Central, Las Vegas is the fastest-warming city in the United States. A feature in the Guardian newspaper notes that extreme heat, much like what Las Vegas already is experiencing, affects the poor and those on fixed incomes the most. So, what do parks have to do with communities’ adaption to extreme heat? Plenty, according to numerous experts and organizations. A 2018 study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that large parks in Washington, D.C., cooled the city by as much as 17 degrees Fahrenheit. Increasingly, the presence of trees and green infrastructure is rec-

ognized not only as an amenity for recreation, but also as a vital component of health and well-being in a climate-changing world. Parks provide natural infrastructure that helps communities reduce urban heat island effect and mitigate the impacts of extreme heat.

Prediction:

Park and recreation agencies will reevaluate their parkland inventory in light of its ability to reduce urban heat island effects through the natural cooling of tree canopy and shade. New parks, linear green spaces and trail corridors will be designed to cool communities, as well as to provide recreational benefits. Bonus prediction: A dozen park and recreation agencies will open parks for all night use to accommodate the demand for recreation access when temperatures fall enough to permit outdoor activities.

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TOP TRENDS

Recreation Centers Become Community Wellness Hubs Few would dispute that the mission of parks and recreation is now beginning to extend well beyond traditional community-based recreation programming. Park and recreation agencies stand on the front line of the opioid crisis, providing afterschool care, food and nutrition assistance and addressing impacts of homelessness. So, unsurprisingly, far-sighted elected officials and innovative park and recreation agencies are joining other public-sector service providers to develop a unified approach to social services, law enforcement, health, nutrition and community recreation for all ages and abilities. These services are being offered in community wellness hubs and multiservice centers. NRPA is already supporting local agencies as they develop innovative models for community

wellness hubs. A promising model under development would leverage the appeal of recreation centers as trusted community gathering places and expand their role to provide interconnected social, health and counseling services; access to healthcare providers; food and nutrition assistance; educational opportunities and other public services all in one center. Formal agreements among agencies would unify work of providers to achieve a partnership that serves the needs of the entire community.

Prediction: Twenty park and recreation agencies will enter into Community Hub agreements with other public-sector service providers in 2020. Funding from nonprofit funders and foundations will grow to support these innovative collaborations as models of best practices for the public sector.

QUICK TAKES Recreation Program Trends “Adult recess” is booming. An article by Jim Carlton in the Wall Street Journal, highlights new recreation programs in cities where as many as 1,000 people turn out for outdoor adult recess games, like tetherball, hopscotch and kickball. Adult recess leagues even have formed with multiweek seasons. “Cause-related programming is a big draw,” says Ann Beck, marketing and communications manager for Mansfield Texas Parks and Recreation. She describes an “insanely popular” program, where a local animal shelter sponsors a 5K run and a walk that pairs shelter dogs with program participants. The programs have raised revenue, expanded audiences for both the shelter and the recreation programs, and have been a huge hit, making people feel like they are making a difference. Beck also says that people love programs that are “Insta-worthy.” People “want to take a cool photo and show the cool things they are doing, so they can share their experiences on social media,” she says.

Micromobility Devices in Parks

Micromobility devices are revolutionizing how people travel to and within parks.

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The birth of the “mobility culture” is profoundly changing urban design and personal transportation. It has upended traditional ideas about how people will access parks, especially when they don’t own a car. Park planning and design standards that anticipate a certain number of cars based on the number of patrons are already outdated. New forms of selfpropelled and motorized transportation, especially micromobility devices are revolutionizing how people get to parks and travel within them. Escooters, emountain bikes and oth-


Barkless Dog Parks Ninety million dogs reside in the United States and public open spaces are disappearing rapidly. It is no wonder that dog parks are the fastest growing type of park. However, as the situation in Chevy Chase Village, Maryland, shows, not everyone wants a dog park where they live. After the town spent $134,000 to purchase land for a public dog park, some neighbors in this wellheeled community began to object to the barking dogs in the park. Dog owners recognized they might have a problem when signs appeared saying: “No Excessive Barking.” Dog owners visiting the park tried to educate humans and dogs that barking would imperil the future of the dog park. Sure enough, after several contentious public meetings, the town voted to remove the dog park to the dismay of dog owners and dogs alike. Come on, don’t they realize dogs just want to have fun?

Human Composting in Parks? Well, Why Not? The state of Washington passed landmark legislation in 2019 to legally allow the green burial practice of “natural organic reduction,” or in other words, human composting. Public

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF MOLT STUDIOS

er motorized personal mobility devices may vex park administrators by causing trail-user conflicts, but they open new horizons for people using them in parks. Some cities, such as Austin, Texas, have geo-fenced their parks from escooters, while others have been more tolerant of their use. Some popular urban parks already find piles of escooters at their entrances. Some are developing shared bicycle docks to increase access for park visitors. There is no question that use of micromobility devices in parks will grow in popularity. The impacts remain to be seen.

Artist’s rendering of what a composting center might look like in Washington state after the legislature approved human composting in 2019.

interest in green burials is growing rapidly. This burial method does not embalm people, but instead forgoes the elaborate metal or rare wood coffins and looks to place the remains of loved ones in natural landscapes. Recompose, a public benefit company in Washington state, has been formed to do just that beginning in 2021. Using natural composting methods and the addition of natural fiber, such as wood chips and straw along with some heat, a University of Washington pilot study showed that a human body could be fully composted in about four weeks. The process results in about one cubic yard of clean, rich compost, according to Katrina Spade, founder and CEO of Recompose. “If families don’t want the whole amount, that is OK,” says Spade. “We are already working with a nonprofit land conservation group on a forest conservation and restoration project.” It does not seem a large step to think that parks would be an ideal place for composted human remains. The permanency of public lands and

long-term protection of trees and conservation areas could give people a deep sense of satisfaction and peace to know their loved ones were returning to the earth in a completely natural and beneficial way. When asked if they had thought about the idea of talking with public park agencies for the potential use of composted human remains, Spade says, “Definitely! We have thought about it a lot. We think the ultimate partner in nature would be public parks.” And, really, why not?

To hear Dolesh talk more about his predictions for 2020, listen to Diving Deeper Into the 2020 Park and Rec Trends on Open Space Radio at open spaceradio.org or on your favorite podcast app. Richard J. Dolesh is Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at NRPA (rdolesh@nrpa.org).

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Pricing Strategies That Combat Social Injustice Using Price Premiums and Discounts for Optimizing Economic Equity By John L. Crompton, Ph.D.

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T

he key descriptors of social justice are “equality” and “fairness.” In recent years, the term has been extrapolated to a wide range of contexts, including environmental, race, gender and human exploitation. However, in its earliest forms it primarily was concerned with income inequality. In contemporary U.S. society, an explicit element of social justice remains the redistribution of resources to those who are economically disadvantaged. Pricing strategies play a role in exacerbating or amending social injustice in the context of parks and recreation. Tension in public-sector pricing debates revolves around optimizing the two guiding concepts of fairness: The Benefit Principle and the Ability to Pay Principle. The Benefit Principle states that residents or service users’ contributions should reflect the benefits they receive from a service. The Ability to Pay Principle states that the price or amounts of tax to be paid should reflect people’s different ability to pay and that, as much as possible, no residents should be excluded from participating because they lack the funds to do so. The challenge for public decision makers in arriving at a price perceived to be “fair” is how best to reconcile these two principles.

Making the Ability to Pay Principle Operational Not giving discounts to those who qualify as economically disadvantaged both unjustly excludes residents from a service and forgoes revenues. The conventional view is that program discounts for low-income residents guided by the Ability to Pay Principle inevitably result in trade-offs with the Benefit Principle, since they reduce revenue and require more tax support. However, Figure 1 (see pg. 38) illustrates this is often not the case, because lowincome residents have a different price elasticity than other groups. If a discount price exceeds the cost of delivering a service, then this revenue — from those who would not participate at the regular price — is a net gain. Consider the following example: A large outdoor, public swimming pool that opens for the summer months charges an admission price of $7 per person for those age 4 years or older. On average, the pool receives 200 visits a day. Almost all its costs are fixed. For an economically disadvantaged family of five, $35 for admission is not feasible, so they are excluded. If a discounted price of $3 is made available, the family of five pays $15. If the $3 price resulted in an additional 100 visits a day from economically disadvantaged individuals, this would result in more than $2,000 a week in additional net revenue for the park and recreation agency. In accordance with the Ability to Pay Principle, park and recreation agencies could offer price discounts to four groups of potential users: Low-Income Residents – Establishing a qualifying benchmark income level that defines a “poor” individual is controversial, requiring additional administrative steps to

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PRICING EQUITY

verify and audit compliance that could become intrusive. Recreation agencies typically adopt criteria already used by others, such as schools for their subsidized meals programs, welfare and unemployment agencies, to determine those eligible for discounts. Unemployed Residents – Unemployment is devastating to most who experience it. Recreation programs can offer relief from boredom and give some structure, order and routine to each day for the unemployed. Agencies have the potential to mitigate the isolation and exclusion caused by removal or disruption of social interactions with colleagues. Children – Leisure literacy is as important to a satisfying life as reading, writing and numerical literacy. The absence of such skills could lead to deviant behavior that inflicts great costs on society. Investing in youth by giving them meaningful discounts allows park and recreation agencies to nurture their future clienteles. Large Households – Larger families have more expenses to meet and are economically disadvantaged compared to smaller fami38 Parks & Recreation

lies. Traditionally, agencies offer family passes to these households.

Inequality from Discounting Prices for Economically Advantaged Residents A government’s main source of revenue for subsidizing local and state park and recreation services are regressive property and sales taxes, which require those with lower incomes to pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes. This is inconsistent with the Ability to Pay Principle. Using regressive taxes to support services primarily used by residents who are not economically disadvantaged results in an inverted, distorted price system in which the wealthier segments of society are supported by those at the lower end of the income scale. This is illustrated in Figure 2 (see pg. 39) by a “line of incongruity.” The blue and green lines indicate that low-income groups should receive a subsidy in accordance with the Ability to Pay Principle, but other groups should pay for benefits they receive in accordance with the Benefit Principle. Charging a break-even price alle-

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viates some of the financial burden on those with low incomes, provided those with low incomes do not use the service. The appropriate policy is to charge the break-even price to higher income cohorts and meet the Ability to Pay Principle by giving discounts to low-income users, rather than offering the service to everyone at a reduced price. This gives lower-income groups the option of whether they want to use a service, rather than requiring them (and non-users in all other income cohorts) to pay for a service they don’t use through the regressive tax system. Discounts would be inappropriate for both seniors and those who purchase a multiuse pass because each case violates both the Ability to Pay and the Benefit Principle.

Capture Consumers’ Surplus with Premiums The consumers’ surplus (see Figure 1) that is inherent in the pricing of public leisure services can be captured by premiums. Premiums for those willing to pay for increments of benefits beyond the standard offering is consistent with the Benefit Principle for those who want to save their time by making a reservation, use a facility or program at peak times, or desire a higher-quality offering than the regular service provides. Reservation Options – The price people pay to engage in a recreational experience includes both their time and money. People cite lack of time as a major reason for not participating more in a leisure activity. Whenever time savings can be achieved by offering a reservation option for the experience, a premium can be added to a program’s price. Peak-Time Priority – The primary parameters setting peak times are the traditional work week and educational institution schedules and, in the case of outdoor recreations, the


Figure 2: A Distorted Price System

Economically Disadvantaged

Middle- and UpperIncome Groups

In Lin co e ng of ru ity

weather. For many potential users, these parameters dictate the times of the day and days throughout the year when they can participate. Some users who are not constrained by these parameters (e.g., retirees, pre-schoolers, part-time workers, college students, the self-employed) also choose to participate at peak times. For such groups, peak-time use is a matter of convenience rather than necessity. Providing an incentive may persuade these individuals to shift their use to non-peak times. Whenever peak demand is reached, and some potential users are unable to participate, then agencies are likely to come under pressure to add capacity. This leads to inefficient use of resources, because if facilities are designed with sufficient capacity to accommodate peak demand, then much of this capacity remains unused the rest of the time. Since peak-time users are responsible for a disproportionate amount of the facility’s cost compared to off-peak users, the Benefit Principle directs they should pay a premium that covers this cost. Superior Quality Increments – A recreation and park system likely incorporates facilities that deliver similar services, but offer different levels of quality. Superior quality increments stem from three sources: (i) variations in quality among facilities; (ii) variations in preferred locations within a facility; and (iii) added service opportunities. Most are likely to accept that those who use a higher quality facility or program should pay a higher price. The higher quality likely requires higher development and maintenance costs, so the price premiums for these extra increments of benefits should, at a minimum, be set to cover the marginal costs of providing them. Commercial Use of Public Facilities – Whenever public facilities are used for commercial purposes,

Subsidy

Break even

charge a premium. This transforms a facility from a public to a private good. Since it no longer is accessible to all, the Ability to Pay Principle is not relevant. Hosting festivals and events promoted by for-profit entities temporarily commercializes a public space. In many communities, political pressure encourages recreation agencies to host commercial functions, which are perceived to benefit the economy. However, recreation agencies acting as agents of these public, taxpayer-owned spaces have an obligation to negotiate a lease, permit or rent for use of a facility that reflects the full-market rate. Auctions and Bidding – In contexts where demand greatly exceeds supply, a bidding process or auction can capture consumers’ surplus and extract the maximum premium. This unconventional approach directly involves users in the price-setting process. For example, if multiple teams or leagues seek to use athletic fields at peak times, all interested parties could be invited to bid for those time slots and they would be allocated to those pre-

pared to pay the most. This approach has the added virtue of managers not having to develop (invariably controversial) administrative decision rules to prioritize who should have access to the relatively scarce resource.

Using Pricing as the Vehicle for Distributive Justice “Distributive justice” frequently is used as a synonym for “social justice.” Government entities are the primary institutions with responsibility to put distributive justice into operation. Pricing becomes an effective vehicle for recreation and park agencies to use discounts to make the Ability to Pay Principle operational; follow the Benefit Principle to remove lines of incongruity; perform due diligence to ensure discounts are confined to the economically disadvantaged; and use premiums to capture consumers’ surplus that follows the Benefit Principle. John L. Crompton, Ph.D., is a University Distinguished Professor, Regents Professor and Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence in the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences at Texas A&M University and an elected councilmember for the City of College Station (jcrompton@tamu.edu).

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INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ DAY ORLessons COLUMBUS DAY in Leadership and Risk-Taking How a social media post sparked a larger conversation about P&R’s role in social equity By Dr. Joshua T. Medeiros, Ed.D., CPRP, AFO

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or many U.S. residents, the second Monday in October has traditionally been a celebration of Christopher Columbus and his voyage to the Americas in 1492. In recent years, states, cities and universities across the country have begun officially replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. These changes come as a result of communities acknowledging the unjust treatment of Native Americans by the government. Indigenous Peoples’ Day provides an opportunity to celebrate the people who first called the land this nation was built on home and to remember the struggles and tragedies they endured. It’s an opportunity to honor their place in and contributions to the shared story of America. While Connecticut has not yet adopted the official holiday change, several cities/towns within the state have made the switch. Currently, the city of Bristol, Connecticut, home of ESPN, is not one of those locations, but that didn’t stop our park and recreation department from stirring up a reaction with a controversial October 2019 Facebook post. In my first year as superintendent for the City of Bristol Department of Parks, Recreation, Youth and Community Services, I took on many tasks, including engaging in a strategic planning

process. Like many strategic planning exercises, the process resulted in an updated vision statement and bolstered our organization’s core values with more inclusive language surrounding social equity and diversity. In October, these changes were put to the test. This was an experiment to determine if the new core values were simply “words on a page” or a living, breathing representation of our department. Aligned with the newly focused efforts surrounding social equity, our community outreach coordinator, Sarah

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INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ DAY

The post began to circulate the world of social media, with outraged individuals sharing the post in community forums to continue the heated debate.

IMAGES COURTESY OF CITY OF BRISTOL DEPARTMENT OF PARKS, RECREATION, YOUTH AND COMMUNITY SERVICES

Larson, drafted a Facebook post announcing the upcoming office closure for the holiday weekend. Sensing the post may be viewed as controversial, Larson brought the social media post to my attention and asked if she had approval to move forward. The post did not acknowledge the traditional Columbus Day holiday but rather, it read: “The Department of Parks, Recreation, Youth and Community Services will be closed today, Monday October 14th in observance of Indigenous Peoples’

Day. As you enjoy the beauty of our parks this weekend, consider the Tunxis People, whose land we are on.” In a risk-adverse municipal climate, my gut reaction was to not approve the post — to play it safe. After some consideration, I decided “playing it safe” was not the right choice in this situation. Leadership is about pushing the envelope forward, making a stance for what we believe in and not being afraid to make tough choices. How could I truly say our department was moving in a more progressive and inclusive direction, if I myself was not willing to make a bold choice to advance that mission? I continued to weigh the pros and cons during the rest of the afternoon, wondering if I should log in to Facebook to modify the post. I even debated

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“passing the buck” and running the post through the mayor’s office for final approval. After internal debate, I let the post stand and the office closed for the three-day holiday weekend with the post scheduled for release on Monday. On the morning of October 14, the post was released. Immediately, the post gained traction as the “likes” and “loves” began to come in. Unfortunately, as the day progressed, some corners of the public began expressing negative comments. Comments included: “Happy Columbus Day,” “Happy Martian Invasion Day. As long as we are making up holidays,” “What a stupid holiday. Social justice warriors assemble,” and “Political correctness strikes again.” The post began to circulate the world of social media, with outraged individuals sharing the post in community forums to continue the heated debate. One outraged citizen called for an official apology from the city and to have the post taken down immediately. He stated, “Columbus Day is an official national holiday of the United States of America. Is this an official change by the City of Bristol as determined through City Council? Furthermore, posting ‘happy indigenous people’s day’ is ignorant of the discrimination, prejudice, injustice and murder of Italian immigrants during the late 19th and early 20th century. As a full-blooded Italian American and citizen of the city, I am calling for the immediate removal of this status.” As difficult as it was not to re-

Members of the community voice their opinions on the subject of national holidays in the comments of a social media post from the city of Bristol, Connecticut.


act or remove these comments, we made the deliberate choice not to respond to or delete any comments. Our social media team stood back and let the post play out and continue to build reactions and comments throughout the day. Larson states, “We felt it was important to let the dialogue play out. As the comments continued to flood in, it became apparent to me that there were no people of color voicing objections, which makes you give pause to what the real issue is here. What are people really upset about?” It wasn’t long until some outraged individuals took to the city mayor’s Facebook page to express their anger about the post. Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu contacted me and asked for an explanation to help guide her responses to these constituents. I had expected this phone call and had given it consideration. I told the mayor that in no way had the park and recreation department denounced Columbus Day and the post had not been intended to be offensive or controversial. We wanted to take an alternate look at the holiday. As an agency that values land conversation and regularly celebrates the rich history of our park system founders, we wanted to use the day to reflect on the origins of the land itself and the people who came before us. Mayor Zoppo-Sassu was satisfied with the answer. As the dialogue continued on social media, days after the holiday had come and gone, we began to notice our page followers had increased significantly with more than 50 new followers. Our team was in awe that while doing the right thing, we experienced this unexpected side effect and marketing benefit. We consid

ered this a major win for bringing new, diverse people in our community under the umbrella of our organization, where we will connect them to our parks and services. Reflecting on the experience, Larson says, “Collectively, we knew that not only had we succeeded in sending a powerful message, but also we had succeeded in an unexpected marketing boost.” Throughout the “controversy,” I had many moments of doubt, wondering if I had made the right call approving the post. Was the post political and outside the bounds of a government agency? In retrospect, my decision to approve the post is a testament to the leadership of the mayor, who was recently re-elected for her second term in November and has been a champion for progressive leadership. She has fostered an environment where department heads can feel empowered to make decisions and feel supported in moments of controversy. Understanding the political environment in which your organization is situated remains critical when taking educated risks. Mayor Zoppo-Sassu states: “Diversifying our city hall leadership, boards and commissions has been a top priority of my administration. I feel it’s important that we have representation for people in all pockets of the community. This Indigenous Peoples’ Day post was symbolic of the forward progression we are making as a city, and I supported the department in their ability to make a statement surrounding an agenda of social equity and inclusion.” After some reflection, I felt the Indigenous Peoples’ Day post was not only a statement to advance

our mission, but also a significant lesson in my own personal leadership. It demonstrated to my staff that it’s OK to be a risk-taker. I hope that modeling risk-taking behavior will encourage them to take reasonable risks in their daily work. I firmly believe this type of leadership is needed in our field for park and recreation agencies to enact meaningful change. In the grand scheme of social equity issues that impact millions of people across the country every day, a simple post about Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a single

We need park and recreation agencies across the country to break free of the “risk-adverse municipal mindset” and start making moves to establish a new culture of social equity and inclusion. drop in a large ocean. However, it is symbolic of the type of leadership that park and recreation professionals need to engage in to move the needle forward. We need park and recreation agencies across the country to break free of the “risk-adverse municipal mindset” and start making moves to establish a new culture of social equity and inclusion. The City of Bristol Parks, Recreation, Youth and Community Services team is proud of the bold stance we took and our organization’s ability to not only weather the storm, but also come out of it as a stronger agency. Dr. Joshua T. Medeiros, Ed.D., CPRP, AFO, is Superintendent of City of Bristol (Connecticut) Parks, Recreation, Youth and Community Services, and an NRPA Board Member (JoshMedeiros@bristolct.gov).

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NRPA UPDATE Participate in a New Decade of Data Collection By Melissa May

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anuary ushers in not only a new year, but also the start of a new decade. This exciting time affords us the opportunity to reflect on fond memories created during the past 10 years and look ahead to the future. For many agencies, this means updating master plans. Where do you envision your agency 5, 10, 20 or more years from now? Do you have enough parkland to serve the current population? What about the population growth expected in 10 years? Are you offering a variety of programs that match the needs, wants and desires of your current and future residents? Knowing where your agency stands against its peers today helps to shape your agency in the future. When you contribute to NRPA Park Metrics during this year’s data campaign, you will find those answers. NRPA Park Metrics is the most

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comprehensive source of park and recreation agency data benchmarks and insights in the United States. With more than a decade’s worth of agency-contributed data, NRPA Park Metrics strives to provide agencies, like yours, with the information necessary to effectively engage your local stakeholders and elected officials and plan for the future. The deadline for contributing your agency’s 2019 data through the NRPA Park Metrics Agency Performance Survey is approaching. The data collected through this survey is the basis of the annual NRPA Agency Performance Review

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(APR) (www.nrpa.org/APR) that is included in the May issue of Parks & Recreation magazine. The APR provides you with a wealth of information whether you are updating a 10-year master plan or an annual budget. It is your one-stop shop to finding the number of acres of parkland per 1,000 residents, national cost recovery percentage, data relating to programs, facilities or policies and much more. This information is only made possible by agencies, like yours, that complete the Agency Performance Survey in NRPA Park Metrics. As a special thank you to agencies that complete this survey by January 24, contributors will receive a custom APR, highlighting your agency’s data against the national findings. With less than an hour of your time, you and your agency can have a real, lasting impact on parks and recreation throughout the country. Visit NRPA Metrics (www.nrpa. org/ParkMetrics) and select “Enter Your Agency’s Data” to begin inputting or updating your agency information today. If you need assistance, contact Melissa May (mmay@nrpa.org) or Greg Manns (gmanns@industryinsights.com). Additionally, Live Chat “Office Hours” will be available on Mondays and Fridays in January from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. EST directly from the NRPA Park Metrics website (nrpaproragis.com/login.asp). Before the end of the month, we will be wrapping up the 2020 NRPA Agency Performance Review. Start this new decade off right by shaping the future of parks and recreation. We want to hear from you. – Melissa May, Senior Research Manager for NRPA


NRPA, Coca-Cola and Others Take on the Plastic Pollution Problem in Atlanta By Michele White

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lastic waste plagues cities, often ending up in waterways. An average 8.8 million tons of plastic waste enters our oceans from waterways around the world every year. The problem may span the globe, but solutions can start locally, right in your local park. NRPA has partnered with The Coca-Cola Company, the city of Atlanta, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, Groundwork Atlanta, Park Pride and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 4 to tackle the problem in Atlanta’s Proctor Creek watershed. While the city has been working with the community for many years to address issues around litter and illegal dumping, storms continue to wash significant amounts of trash into Proctor Creek. Together, the organizations are installing trash-catchment systems in the watershed to test a localized solution to the problem.

Community Faces Environmental, Health and Economic Challenges The Proctor Creek watershed flows through several Northwest Atlanta neighborhoods. The area is home to approximately 60,000 people, has served as an incubator for African American civil rights leaders and houses several historically black universities and colleges. But decades of disinvestment and discriminating policies, such as redlining, have created environmental, health and economic challenges for residents.

Testing Solutions Through the project, two technologies — the Litter Gitter and the

Bandalong Litter Trap — are being installed and tested at four different park sites throughout the watershed. Community members also will receive green jobs training and learn about recycling. Some will learn how to maintain the traps, as well as how to use the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Escaped Trash Assessment Protocol (ETAP) system to collect data on the trash captured in the traps. The Litter Gitter, a small-stream litter collection device, uses floating booms that guide trash into a collection container. The Bandalong Litter Trap is a large, industrial-grade aluminum system that uses the water’s current to guide debris into a litter trap. The Coca-Cola Company provided a grant to NRPA to support the city of Atlanta’s installation of these devices. Currently, five Litter Gitters are installed at three different park locations in the Proctor Creek watershed, including Grove Park, Center Hill Park and Proctor Creek Greenway – Boyd Elementary. The Bandalong will be installed in early 2020 at the site of the future Proctor Creek Park. Data collected on the types and amounts of trash captured will be used to inform best practices about mitigation strategies, so communities can determine if

Five Litter Gitters, such as the one pictured, and one Bandalong Litter Trap will help capture trash before it washes into the Proctor Creek watershed in Atlanta.

these solutions would be valuable in their waterways.

Local Project Contributes to the Bigger Picture The project supports The CocaCola Company’s global World Without Waste (www.coca-cola company.com/stories/world-with out-waste) goal to recycle and reuse the equivalent of 100 percent of the bottles and cans it sells by 2030. Coca-Cola plans on working with the Proctor Creek partners to recycle and reuse the bottles collected through the new trashcatchment systems. This project demonstrates the ability of public-private, philanthropic partnerships to help provide clean, trash-free water while providing local green jobs and educational opportunities. Michele White is Program Manager, Conservation at NRPA (mwhite@nrpa.org).

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N R PA U P DAT E

Member Spotlight: Shane Wampler By Lindsay Collins

S

hane Wampler began his park and recreation career as aquatics supervisor for Faribault Parks and Recreation in Minnesota. Today, Wampler is the recreation supervisor for City of Omaha (Nebraska) Parks and Recreation, where he is responsible for one of the city’s community centers and continues his aquatics career by providing training for lifeguard instructors and, during the summer season, as an outdoor-pool supervisor. Wampler also helps oversee the agency’s pickleball program, running “how-to” clinics for newbies and organizing quarterly tournaments for both new participants and experienced players alike. He even has won a few pickleball tournament medals himself. Recently, Parks & Recreation spoke with Wampler to learn about his experience with pickleball and to get his thoughts on the sport. Parks & Recreation: How did you get into pickleball? Shane Wampler: We had a unit on pickleball in middle school, and I learned about the game then. I [also] took a lifetime sports class in high school where there was a unit on pickleball. I absolutely loved it and continued playing even after we had finished up that unit. Then, I went off to college, and at that point in time, I didn’t really

do a whole lot with pickleball. It wasn’t as popular then as it is now, and there wasn’t nearly as many opportunities just to go play. So, I didn’t really do a lot with it until I got to Faribault, Minnesota, [in] 2012. I went to the Minnesota Recreation and Park Association state conference and they had a “how to play pickleball” session. I went to it and was reminded how much I absolutely loved the game. I went to my boss, the director, and told him I wanted to do pickleball. He said, “Sure, go ahead,” so I started a pickleball club. I did that for about four years before I moved, and then I came to Omaha. P&R: What does it take to put together a pickleball tournament? Wampler: Here in Omaha, we have an indoor tennis center. I take that over and tape down temporary courts for pickleball, using painter’s tape or masking tape. There are eight tennis courts, so I can fit up to 24 pickleball courts in that facility. I typically need about a dozen, so I only use about half the space. We use temporary nets. We run roundrobin tournaments, so lots of people [play] lots of games. I put out notice

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to a mailing list of people who have participated in tournaments before. We’ve had people from as far away as South Dakota, Kansas, Iowa...come to these tournaments over the years. P&R: Do you see a lot of new faces at the tournaments? Wampler: It’s a little bit of both! At our last tournament, about 80 people total signed up, and I want to say almost a quarter were people I hadn’t seen before. It’s super fun to see new folks come in and play against people they’ve never played before, and have a blast with it. P&R: What benefits do you feel pickleball programs bring to communities? Wampler: Pickleball is wildly popular with active older adults. I think the big reason for that is it’s not as intensive as, say, tennis or racquetball. We find that some of the folks who either age out or aren’t able to do some of the other sports the way they want to can still participate at a high level in pickleball. P&R: Outside of work, what are your favorite pastimes? Wampler: I have four small children, ages 7 and under, so that takes up lots of my personal life. I’m originally from the great state of Nebraska and am blessed to be back in Nebraska, so I’m a big fan of all things Cornhusker. And, I’m an inveterate reader — I’m constantly reading something or other. – Lindsay Collins, Associate Editor for Parks & Recreation magazine


Applications Open January 6 for the 2020 NRPA Awards

A

wards season for parks and recreation starts this month, with applications opening for the NRPA Innovation Awards, Spotlight Awards, Fellowships and Scholarships, and the Robert W. Crawford Hall of Fame. The Innovation Awards showcase the inspiring work park and recreation agencies do to improve their communities through innovative practices in park design, health and wellness, conservation and social equity. There is no cost to apply for the NRPA awards.

Taking the Mystery Out of the Awards Process New this year, NRPA presents the webinar, Taking the Mystery Out of the Innovation and Individual Awards Process. Representatives from the National Awards Committee will shed light on the process and help you create an engaging awards application. What can you do to make sure your application stands out from the rest? How does the scoring process work? And, what are some pitfalls to avoid? Join us Thursday, January 16 at 2 p.m. EST, to give your agency/yourself a better chance at receiving national recognition in 2020.

The Stories Behind the Latest Park and Rec Products

T PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT The Inspiration Behind the Products

he new NRPA Product Spotlight video series features interviews with leading park and recreation product developers that tell the story behind the design and inspiration of their products. Three episodes are currently available and two more will be released in January. In the first episode, we speak with Sam Mendelsohn, Greenfields’ president and CEO, to learn how their equipment can help make fitness and exercise more inclusive. Episode two explores the inspiration behind Vermont Systems’ RecTrac software and how it is helping park and recreation departments embrace technology. The third episode tells the story behind the inclusive design of Landscape Structures’ Super Netplex playground feature. The two Product Spotlight videos debuting in early 2020 focus on the design of BCI Burke’s Nucleus Evolution and a brand-new rotary mower from Toro. To watch the latest Product Spotlight videos, visit www.nrpa.org/ProductSpotlight. W W W. PA R K S A N D R E C R E AT I O N . O R G | J A N U A RY 2 02 0 |

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N R PA U P DAT E

Three Reasons to Eliminate Paper Medical and Emergency Forms

Hot Topics NRPA Connect (www.nrpaconnect.org) is an online network with more than 63,000 professionals who are ready to answer your questions, help brainstorm your challenges and discuss trending topics in the field. Check out what is being discussed this month: Mobile Rec Units — Our department is looking at the idea of a mobile rec unit. There were a few examples on the expo floor at this year’s conference, which has sparked some interest from our director. Does anyone have experience with a mobile rec unit? Is anyone also discussing the idea? Any advice or knowledge is appreciated. Several NRPA members offered the following suggestions: We have a new NHL team coming to Seattle, and we’re looking for ways to partner with them. One idea was to create a mobile rec unit for floor hockey.

The city of Antioch (California) purchased a paratransit bus from the transit agency. We removed brackets [and seats to accommodate] wheelchairs, added racks and shelves, wrapped the bus with our new brand and turned it into our pop-up recreation program. Staff travel to parks and events! We carry pop-up tents, tables, chairs, games, crafts and more. Our first year was very successful.

M

ost organizations know how critical it is to collect families’ medical and emergency contact information. However, many still rely on paper forms to do so, despite paper falling out of date, being difficult to read as well as inefficient and costly to manage, and opening organizations up to risks.

Paper Forms Are Expensive Paper forms cost your organization time and money. Research on paper-form processes has found: • Each form takes more than 20 minutes to process including distributing; collecting; photocopying; filing; and following up when not submitted, incomplete or difficult to read. • The average cost of managing paper forms is $5 per-child. • Most organizations handle 4 to 10 pieces of paper for each participant per year, including emergency, contact and medical forms, waivers, consents and terms of use. If an organization manages just four forms per participant, with 150 participants in a program, that’s $3,000 and 200 hours per year!

Data Is Difficult to Access Paper forms stored in binders, file cabinets or a central database are not easily accessible to the staff who need it — especially those off-site or responding to an emergency.

Forms Are Risky Our agency had one, years ago, and now the city of Las Vegas has brought it back. We had two staff [persons] who would travel to various parks and low-income neighborhoods or under-served parks. We had games, sports equipment and crafts for all. We also did a series of workshops, such as [one to build] kites, and then held a festival at the end of the series for parents and children to show off their work and fly kites.

Log in to NRPA Connect (www.nrpaconnect.org) today to read even more of the discussion!

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It’s common for parents to improperly fill out forms, from writing answers in the wrong field to missing sections and making mistakes. Or worse, quickly writing critical details, like an allergy or a medical condition, in handwriting that is illegible. With ePACT, families receive a private, personal emergency record, where they enter critical data once, then share it yearafter-year, program-after-program with the organizations that support them. The HIPAA-compliant system saves organizations time, money and effort, controls authorized access to data, and improves the accuracy and accessibility of critical participant information. Visit www.epactnetwork.com to learn more or call 1-855-773-7228 ext. 3, and use the code, NRPAePACT, for 15% off your setup fee.


©MYLES MELLOR

Parks & Recreation Crossword

Across 1 Saturated areas 5 Animal companion 8 Winter jacket 10 Where picnics are enjoyed 12 Popular type of golf 14 Urban runoff cause 18 Cadillac Mountain’s state 19 Exercise class, abbr. 20 Camping gear 22 Color 23 Celebratory displays held in many parks 24 Protected from the sun 25 It’s home to Crater Lake National Park 29 Paddle 30 The P in PRADS 32 Make better 34 Viral phenomenon on the web 35 Basic belief 36 Recent study found a walk in the park makes people ____ (more cheerful) 37 Negative word

Down 1 Critical question when designing a new park — 4 words 2 Little kid 3 In the past 4 Board member, abbr. 5 Cushion 6 Great Lake 7 Thanks, for short 9 One of the three pillars of NRPA 11 Have courage 13 Make contacts 15 Alfresco, 2 words 16 Parkland measurement 17 Body part to test the water 21 Hot Springs National Park’s state 23 Amount to pay 26 Environmentally friendly 27 Synthetic fiber 28 Planting one helps the planet 30 Energy 31 French for friend 32 60 minutes, abbr. 33 Trouble 34 Brit. politician

Complete the crossword, then visit www.nrpa.org/crossword to verify your answers and to enter a drawing to receive a $50 shopping credit for AthleticJunction.com. A winner will be randomly selected January 31, 2020.

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OPERATIONS Are You Prepared When Technology Fails? Keeping your agency operating smoothly during a system shutdown By Hunter Pooser

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t is a normal day; attendance at the recreation facility remains steady. But as the next member walks through the main entrance, ready to check in for a recreational activity, the unthinkable happens. The computer monitor appears to be loading at an incredibly slow rate, until suddenly, the screen displays a horrifying message: “Server Error.” Without warning, the recreation software stops working and the staff member running the system becomes frantic, unsure what steps to take. This is not just any type of software; it is the command center for the entire park and recreation department. The technology holds the recreation facility’s most precious information, generates crucial reports, processes transactions, stores program information, and for some departments, hosts their website and its functions.

A Contingency Plan

IMAGES COURTESY OF HUNTER POOSER

Park and recreation professionals depend on the convenience of using computers and other technologies for most work tasks. Several professionals may not even use pen

and paper for much of their career. Typically, we assume that this complex and crucial technology will work without a malfunction. With the ability to hold mini-computers in our pockets and the availability of many other technologies in every aspect of our lives, we forget how far we have come from a notso-distant past. For many workplace operations, technology has changed everything. Communication has become faster through email and the use of smartphones, documents have become easily accessible on computer hard drives and clouds, and

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marketing tactics have gone digital through websites and social media outlets. In August 2019, a major server outage at a software company affected many park and recreation agencies nationwide. This continued for approximately 12 hours, leaving many agencies in the dark. In numerous instances, criminal groups have hacked government agencies and caused their servers to crash. What if something happened to your agency’s technologies? Are your administration and front-line staff prepared? When developing a program or hosting an event, park and recreation staff prepare plans B, C and D to respond to unanticipated circumstances. The same needs to be thought of regarding technology and its impact on daily operations. If the department requires daily admission reports, how would your staff track attendance? If the facility is a “pay-to-play” location, how would you successfully process both cash and credit card transactions? All park and recreation departments need to have a plan for when technology fails. The following gives recommendations on how to recover when technology stops working for a recreational facility. Hardcopy Backup — The most important priority is to keep operations running as smoothly as If experiencing server or internet connection issues, alternate computer programs, such as Microsoft Excel, can function as a data collection and record-keeping tool.

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possible. If planned and executed correctly, members should have no idea that a technology failure has happened. For unresponsive software, use a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel. This amazing instrument can be used to record basic information like participant names and membership numbers, document the purpose of facility use, note payment type and mark participant attendance. If all systems are down, use a pen and paper check-in sheet. Make sure to create this predetermined system to record the key information and ensure all staff can access it. After recovering the check-in process, the next priority is to ensure function of the registration and payment process. If the agency uses digital registration for programs and memberships, then registration forms may need to be created, preferably before a system malfunction occurs. These forms should match closely the information captured by the department’s recreation software. Be sure to capture the name of the program(s) and/or membership(s) that participants register for and include all required waivers. Proper financial recordkeeping is extremely important in this situation. In a “pay-to-play” facility, staff should never let anyone participate without paying the proper admission or registration fee. Payment methods may be indicated as a continuation of the admission spreadsheet, but credit card forms that collect all information required by the software need to be created to allow the agencies’ merchant to process successful transactions after the software comes back online.

Simple, hardcopy forms can be used to record information if computer systems become inoperable, forcing staff to obtain the information manually.

Staff should ensure document privacy and destruction after completion of document use. Phone-Call Response — Once the facility and departments are running efficiently, the departments should post on the departmental websites and social media outlets to inform the community of the unforeseen circumstances and apologize for any inconvenience of the registration process. If the recreation software is down, that also means prospective program participants are unable to register online. This may increase the number of phone calls a department will receive. When speaking with frustrated patrons, remember to be polite, vaguely explain the situation and apologize for the inconvenience. Although they may already be aware, get in touch with the software company’s support team or the agency’s IT department to ensure that the incident is not an isolated occurrence. Paper to Digital — When systems are back to their usual operation, staff should use the provided tools to create new user accounts, perform registration processes, including transactions, and check in all participants. It is important that all the information is as accurate as possible. Managerial staff will need to save all documents in an easy-toaccess file and destroy fiscally sensitive documents. While agencies operate differently, a well-developed plan and easy-to-locate resources can ensure nothing stops a facility from func-

tioning at its normal operational capacity. No agency should ever decide to close its recreation facilities because of technical issues. Recreation facilities were able to operate long before computers made regular tasks easier. If the facility can operate safely under close-to-usual conditions, then the recovery time will be reduced significantly. The odds of technology failing are slim, but if it happens, be sure your department is ready. Hunter Pooser is the Recreation Specialist for City of Marietta Parks, Recreation and Facilities (hpooser@mariettaga.gov).

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PRODUCTS Protective Pool Coating

park essentials

RAMUC’s EP epoxy pool paint provides a protective coating to previously painted epoxy or unpainted surfaces, making it a suitable choice when renovating pool slides. This coating provides a high-gloss, tile-like finish that is both abrasionand chemical-resistant. The EP epoxy is a two-coat system that renders rough surfaces ‘smooth’ to look like new. This product is self-priming, so pools will be ready fast and look terrific. Send in a paint chip of your slide for a free analysis to determine if this product is the best solution for your pool and slide-painting needs. RAMUC, 800.745.6756, WWW.RAMUCPOOLPAINT.COM

Drying Agent and Field Conditioner in One

In less than 5 minutes, with only 8 ounces of Rain Out, you can return an 8-foot by 8-foot area of mud to playable dirt. In full sun or under cloud cover, regardless of wind, Rain Out gets the job done 10 times faster for half the cost. It also helps to prevent brown spots on outfield grass. Rain Out’s potassium polymer is a fertilizer that bonds with the grass root system to hold moisture and encourage regrowth. With just one 10-pound bucket of Rain Out in your infield mix, you can reduce watering by half. Rain Out is reusable, biodegradable and sustainable. RAIN OUT, 1.888.609.1163, WWW.RAINOUTPRODUCTS.COM

Geese Gone. Guaranteed. Maintenance-free and guaranteed to remove nuisance Canada Geese from all commercial property types, such as: • Ponds / Waterways • Rooftops / Buildings • Greenspaces/ Lawns Proven and trusted by professionals for over a decade. The patented, flashing, solar powered light system is uniquely designed to disrupt geese and drive them away permanently!

No more geese, mess, or costly destruction …GUARANTEED! Water Unit Shown

VISIT WWW.AWAYWITHGEESE.COM / NRPA OR CALL 513.941.6730 to place an order or request a free placement study of your property.

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Music Play That Moves You PlayEnsemble integrates music into the playground with beautiful notes, engaging colors and so many opportunities to play and have fun while developing skills that transcend the playground. See how music can bring the best in play to your community! ®

bciburke.com Trademark(s) are the property of BCI Burke Company. © BCI Burke Company 2019. All Rights Reserved. 800-356-2070


DOGIPOT.com

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park essentials

s ice e Pr st rvic ers e e w Lo eat S stom Gr c Cu rrifi Te

Recycled site furnishings • park signs

Bright Idea Shops, LLC Akron, Ohio 800-886-8990 fax 330-258-0167 www.brightideashops.com www.park-signs.net

NATURAL DOG PARK PRODUCTS

GymsForDogs.com sales@GymsForDogs.com 800-931-1562

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Gyms for Dogs/Livin’ the Dog Life........................................................ 54

Away with Geese...................................................................................... 52

Kay Park Recreation Company.............................................................. 54

BCI Burke Playgrounds....................................................................... 11, 52

Landscape Structures Inc. .......................................................................5

Bright Idea Shops, LLC............................................................................. 54

Most Dependable Fountains..................................................................... 7

Columbia Cascade Company.................................................................. 29

Pilot Rock/ R.J. Thomas Mfg. Co. ........................................................... 21

DOGIPOT........................................................................................................ 53

Playcraft Systems/PlayCore.................................................................. C4

Easi-Set Buildings ................................................................................... 53

Ropecamp.................................................................................................... 55

Goldenteak/The Wood Carver, Inc. ...................................................... 54

Shade Systems.......................................................................................C2, 1

Greenfields Outdoor Fitness............................................................... 2, 3

ULINE............................................................................................................. 15

advertiser index

Aquatix by Landscape Structures..........................................................17

(ISSN 0031-2215) is published monthly by the National Recreation and Park Association, 22377 Belmont Ridge Rd., Ashburn, VA 20148, a service organization supported by membership dues and voluntary contributions. Copyright ©2020 by the National Recreation and Park Association. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. Opinions expressed in signed articles are those of the writers and not necessarily those of NRPA. Issued to members at the annual subscription price of $30, included in dues. Subscription: $46 a year in the U.S.; $56 elsewhere. Single copy price: $7. Library rate: $58 a year in the U.S.; $68 elsewhere. Periodical postage paid at Ashburn, Virginia, and at additional mailing offices. Editorial and advertising offices at 22377 Belmont Ridge Rd., Ashburn, VA 20148. 703.858.0784. Postmaster, send address changes to Parks & Recreation, 22377 Belmont Ridge Rd., Ashburn, VA 20148.

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PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF COLTON TISCH

Park Bench

Building Water Confidence “Go Deep. Live Empowered.” This slogan, which belongs to the Underwater Torpedo League (UTL), speaks to the program’s tactics and goals to build water confidence nationwide through a newly developed, water-based sport. Played in teams of five, the game takes place completely underwater. The object is to deposit the pool torpedo into the opposing team’s goal. Players can move the torpedo forward by swimming with it, handing it off or passing it to another team member while submerged. Once the game is initiated, the torpedo must remain underwater and the player in control of the torpedo cannot break the surface — doing so results in a penalty drop for the receiving team. The game was created by UTL founder and former U.S. Marine Prime Hall and his fellow service members as a survival training tool in the military to teach C02 tolerance and breath-hold work. Now available to the public, “[the] program is geared toward a warrior class of people, with specific goals to create positive and lasting shifts in water confidence, mindset and fortitude,” says Rick Briere, master instructor trainer for UTL. Currently, the program takes place in Southern California cities, including La Jolla, Oceanside, San Clemente, Irvine and Los Angeles. Recently, the founders launched an expansion program to bring UTL to cities all over the United States, with the first successful launch in Miami. An additional aspect of UTL is Deep End Fitness (DEF), a training and conditioning program for UTL and other water- and nonwater-based sport and activity groups, such as surfers, ocean lifeguards, MMA fighters and NFL players. According to the DEF website (deependfitness.com), DEF is “a revolutionary fitness program for both advanced and beginner water enthusiasts alike — where participants gain underwater skills and confidence that can be applied to their everyday lives.” As for who is welcome to join, Briere says it is open to “anyone who is looking for mental and physical growth. It is tailored so that people with limited to no swimming background or water confidence can [participate in] the program and develop the necessary skills to progress further within the community.” When it comes to the future prospects of the program, Briere is confident it is headed toward a national platform and beyond. “My hopes moving forward are that DEF and UTL become an international phenomenon,” he says, “with the ultimate goal of DEF becoming an Olympic training tool, while UTL develops into an Olympic sport.” To learn more about UTL, visit www.utlnation.com. – Lindsay Collins, Associate Editor for Parks & Recreation magazine

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IMPACT YOUR CAREER, IMPACT YOUR COMMUNITY Do you want to open the door to bigger and better opportunities for your career and community? Demonstrate your commitment to parks and recreation by becoming a Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP).

APPLY BY FEBRUARY 29 TO GET A FREE CPRP PREP COURSE (UP TO $250 VALUE)

Apply now at nrpa.org/CPRP-VIP


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PARKS & RECREATION JANUARY 2020  ◆  TOP TRENDS IN PARKS & REC FOR 2020  ◆  EQUITABLE PRICING STRATEGIES  ◆  LESSONS IN LEADERSHIP

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