Advocate for Your Local Parks with These Strategies

by Luke Murray

Public parks are invaluable additions to many communities across the U.S., but unfortunately, they are often underfunded or aren’t maintained the way they should be due to a lack of city or state employees. That’s why so many citizens have become public park advocates, ensuring that their local spaces are safe spots for people from all walks of life. If you’re interested in becoming a park advocate, it’s important to keep a few things in mind, such as how to volunteer your time or recruit members of your community to help keep things looking nice. You might even start a public project at your favorite local park, such as a community garden.

Here are a few more things to consider when becoming a public park advocate.

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Help provide lighting for enhanced park safety

Many public parks are used at various hours of the day by families and individuals who use walking paths and other areas which may not be as well lit as they should be. Take a look at your favorite local outdoor spaces and take note of the lighting solutions. Are they adequate for the size of the area? If not, meet with your local park administrators to organize a fundraiser for new lighting. There are several options available, so do a little research to find the best choice for the space. Keeping in mind that light poles need to be durable as well as attractive.

Consider setting up a nonprofit

Whether your favorite local park needs new lighting or you just want to find new ways to support the community, setting up a nonprofit can be extremely helpful when it comes to applying for grants or public funding. There are several steps involved in creating a nonprofit, including creating by-laws in order to determine how the organization will be governed, how voting will work, and how often you’ll hold board meetings. You’ll also need to create a plan for handling conflicts of interest. A nonprofit can offer limited liability, tax-exempt status, and credibility, which will help when you’re trying to raise money for your favorite parks.

Build a sense of community

Working to make your local parks safer or raising money for their upkeep are great ways to fulfill your role as a public parks advocate, but you can also foster a sense of community by rallying around the groups that use those spaces. Kids’ sports teams, parents of young children, and pet owners make up a large portion of park visitors, and you can help support them by sponsoring one of the teams, organizing a public cleanup initiative for playgrounds, or advocating for things like hand sanitizer or pet cleanup stations. These are all great ways to get connected to the community and bring people together.

Incorporate creative placemaking

For many people, their local park is an important part of their community. It’s a place where people can come together to relax and enjoy the outdoors. However, parks can also fall into disrepair, becoming neglected and dangerous. One way to help ensure that your local park stays vibrant and safe is to advocate for it through creative placemaking. Creative placemaking is all about using art and culture to transform public spaces. It can involve painting murals, organizing events, or installing sculptures. By injecting some personality into your local park, you can help to make it a more inviting place for people to visit. And as more people use and enjoy the park, they’ll be more likely to support efforts to keep it clean and well-maintained. So, if you’re looking for a way to make a difference in your community, consider advocating for your local park through creative placemaking.
For inspired folks in the Monadnock region, Arts Alive can support your creative placemaking project to access grant and philanthropic funding through fiscal sponsorship. Additionally, The Local Crowd Monadnock is an excellent resource for locally supported crowd-sourced fundraising!

Do your duty

As a public parks advocate, it’s important to not only support the community but also to be on alert for potential safety issues. Even with new equipment and adequate lighting, park spaces still need to be watched to ensure there is no suspicious activity happening in parking lots or covered areas. As someone who spends a lot of time in parks, you will be well equipped to keep an eye on these spaces to ensure that they’re not attracting dangerous elements or creating safety hazards, as well as to report any issues to law enforcement.

Becoming a public parks advocate is a great way to connect with your community and make it a better place to live and play. Consider starting a nonprofit so you can add some legitimacy to your fundraising efforts as you strive to keep these parks looking great for everyone.

Check out this list of campgrounds in the Monadnock region!

Luke Murray created Council of Neighbors after an attempted burglary in his neighborhood showed the power of a neighborhood watch system in his community. He is passionate about helping neighborhoods across the country make themselves safer.

Photo via Pexels

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