Gathering for the Greener Good

Parks & Greenspace Conference

Monday, March 23, 2020 | 8:30 A.M. - 5 P.M.

Each spring, Park Pride hosts the annual Parks & Greenspace Conference, the largest parks conference in the southeast, showcasing thought leaders from Atlanta and across the nation. Through education and inspiration, the conference focuses on best practices for companies and individuals who are united by a common desire to improve parks and strengthen communities.

2020 Theme

“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” ~ John Muir

Whether you live in the city center, the suburbs, or on the countryside, your ability to access and enjoy nature is a vital component for living a happy, healthy life.

However, for those who live in cities, parks can be one of the few, if not only, places to experience nature on a daily basis. Parks offer relief from the concrete, noise, and hurried pace that surrounds us. The slices of nature that exist in parks also serve as important infrastructure for our cities and support habitats for the other living things with which we share this planet.

Connect to the Theme

The conference program, consisting of tours and lectures led by both local and national experts, will explore the relationship between parks and nature through discussions pertaining to:

  • Parks and health
  • Access to nature
  • Parks as Natural Infrastructure

  • Parks as Habitats
  • Parks as Reflections of a City’s Character

Who Should Attend

The Parks & Greenspace Conference offers something for everyone!

  • Parks & recreation professionals
  • Government policy makers
  • Architects & landscape architects
  • Urban planners
  • Citizens who want to build or improve a neighborhood park
  • Environmental & civil engineers
  • Real estate developers
  • Environmental lawyers
  • Anyone who loves parks!


Diane Jones Allen

Diane Jones Allen is currently the Program Director for Landscape Architecture, in the College of Architecture Planning, and Public Affairs, at the University of Texas at Arlington and Principal Landscape Architect of DesignJones LLC in New Orleans, LA.  Her research and practice is guided by the intersection of environmental justice, identity and sustainability in cultural landscapes, including “Nomadic” responses to “Transit Deserts,”: places of increasing transportation demand and limited access. She is the author of Lost in the Transit Desert: Race, Transit Access, and Suburban Form (2017).


David George Haskell

In a world beset by barriers, David Haskell’s work as a writer, scientist, and sound recordist reminds us that life’s substance and beauty emerge from relationship and interdependence. His first book, The Forest Unseen, that explored the secret world hidden in a single square meter of forest, was finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction and received numerous other honors. Haskell received his BA from the University of Oxford and PhD from Cornell University. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and Professor at the University of the South in Sewanee, TN, where his classes have received national attention for combining action in the community with contemplative practice.


J. Drew Lanham

A native of Edgefield, South Carolina, J. Drew Lanham is the author of The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature, which received the Reed Award from the Southern Environmental Law Center and the Southern Book Prize, and was a finalist for the John Burroughs Medal. He is a birder, naturalist, and hunter-conservationist who has published essays and poetry in publications including OrionAudubonFlycatcher, and Wilderness, and in several anthologies, including The Colors of NatureState of the HeartBartram’s Living Legacy, and Carolina Writers at Home. An Alumni Distinguished Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Master Teacher at Clemson University, he and his family live in the Upstate of South Carolina, a soaring hawk’s downhill glide from the southern Appalachian escarpment that the Cherokee once called the Blue Wall.


Kristine Stratton

Kristine Stratton is the president and chief executive officer of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). In her role, she is responsible for the nearly $20 million national organization that works to ensure that all people have access to parks for health, conservation, and recreation. NRPA is the national voice for the protection and creation of local parks, harnessing the passion and power of its more than 60,000 members and the millions of individuals they serve.


Early-bird registration for the 19th Annual Parks & Greenspace Conference is now open!

Join over 450 park professionals, advocates, and enthusiasts from across the country at the largest parks and greenspace conference in the Southeast!

Early-bird registration: $140
Limited to the first 75 registrants



The 2020 Parks and Greenspace Conference offers multiple opportunities to extend the learning and experience “The Nature of Our City” in action! Tour registration and payment is separate from conference registration.

We hope you’ll join us at one of our exciting tour options below!

Building the Blueway

Saturday, March 21, 2020
1 – 3 p.m. 
Blue Heron Nature Preserve
(4055 Roswell Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30342)
Cost: $5


Experience the “Blueway”: the new walking trail system at Blue Heron Nature Preserve with new and renovated segments to create a continuous 3-mile trail system at this gem of a ‘nature’ park in the middle of Buckhead. Learn about what it takes to build a pedestrian trail system in a heavily developed area with sensitive natural features while enjoying the scenery on the way.

Join representatives from the Blue Heron Nature Preserve, contractor Tailored Trails, and design consultant Pond on a walk as they share their experiences from fundraising and planning through design, permitting and construction of this new trail network.

Accessibility: Gravel and boardwalk type trail with some areas of steps and steep slopes. Portions of the trail are ADA accessible.

Workforce Development in Southwest Atlanta: Connecting People and Nature for Community Benefit

Sunday, March 22, 2020
9 – 11:30 a.m.
Outdoor Activity Center
(1442 Richland Rd SW, Atlanta, GA 30310)
Cost: $5


Join this interactive and engaging tour of green infrastructure and arts/creative placemaking projects completed in the Utoy Creek Watershed! Discover how this work is about more than improving stormwater management and water quality/quantity in public and private places, it’s about community benefits, and public-private partnerships to improve quality of life, economic opportunity, the environment, connecting people and nature, and mitigating displacement as our city grows and develops.

The projects visited on this tour–which include projects at the Outdoor Activity Center and Reverend James Orange Park–have been completed as part of Southface’s Atlanta CREW (Culture-Resilience-Environment-Workforce) green infrastructure workforce development program in partnership with WAWA, HABESHA, Greening Youth Foundation, the TransFormation Alliance, and the City of Atlanta.

Participants will hear from Atlanta CREW graduates who will share their experience with the program and projects.

Accessibility: All tour locations are ADA accessible.

2020 Conference Sponsors

Presenting Sponsor

Cox Conserves

Community Engagement Sponsor

Kaiser Permanente

Community Building Sponsor

The Home Depot Foundation

Venue Sponsor

Atlanta Botanical Garden


Integrated Land Design


ADS & Playground Creations
ASLA Georgia
Astra Group
Cooper Carry
Great Southern Recreation
Perkins + Will
Piedmont Park Conservancy
Playworld Preferred
Starr Whitehouse


Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters
City of Decatur Active Living
The Concord Group
Tree Conservation Commission
Woodruff Park