Park Pride’s Roundtable Series brings together experts and thought leaders—both local and national—to provide context and insight into the current parks and greenspace landscape, and highlight actions that attendees can take to get involved.
Whether you’re a parks and recreation professional, government representative, landscape architect, student, or community member, Park Pride’s Roundtables are free and open to the public thanks to the generous support of our Corporate sponsors.
September 2023 – Inclusive Play Spaces
Did you know that playgrounds have more diverse users than any public space amenity? Or that half of all playground visitors are not children? Research shows that play provides the foundation for how humans learn and connect, underscoring the importance of play spaces that are accessible to and inclusive of all ages and all abilities.
In this virtual Roundtable discussion, Meghan Talarowski shared insights on the importance of accessibility to play, types of innovative play spaces, and how to incorporate more inclusive play into local greenspaces. Attendees were encouraged to reimagine play spaces in their local parks, schoolyards or backyards, for all ages and abilities to enjoy.
Moderator: Eli Dickerson, Park Pride Director of Education
Speaker: Meghan Talarowski, Founder and Executive Director at Studio Ludo, a nonprofit working to build better play through research, design and advocacy.
June 2022 – Moving Parks Forward: A Conversation on Atlanta’s Park System
As Atlanta embarks on a new chapter under the leadership of Mayor Dickens and with Activate ATL serving as a guide for our parks and recreation system, the future appears bright for local parks. However, it is important to examine the city’s past to understand what is required to move forward to a stronger, more equitable park system that serves all Atlantans.
How has Atlanta’s history impacted the state of our park system? What catalyzed Atlanta’s jump from #49 to #27 on the 2022 ParkScore Index? How can we advance an equitable park system where every Atlantan has access to a quality park? How does Atlanta fit into the national context of park leadership and innovation? How do we move Atlanta—and our park system—forward?
We dug into these questions and more at Park Pride’s Summer Roundtable, taking place virtually on Thursday, June 16 from 12 – 1 p.m. over Zoom.
Moderator: Michael Halicki, Executive Director of Park Pride
- Linda Hwang, Senior Director of Strategy & Innovation at The Trust for Public Land
- Tara Buckner, Urban Planner at the City of Atlanta’s Department of Parks and Recreation
- George Dusenbury, Georgia State Director at The Trust for Public Land
October 2021: Beyond Parks: Pushing Past Park Boundaries to Make Atlanta a More Livable City
Parks are places of connection. They are an important part of the urban environment, and just as they are surrounded by the neighborhoods that make up a city, they must be part of the conversation when considering the broader issues these communities face. In order to make Atlanta a more livable city, it is imperative that we push beyond park boundaries to start thinking of parks more holistically.
At this Park Pride Roundtable, subject matter experts discussed the ways that parks connect to a broader set of issues–affordable housing, active transportation, and regionalism–that affect our neighborhoods as well as the larger world around us.
Moderator: Maria Saporta, journalist and founder of Saporta Report
- Lisa Gordon, President and Chief Executive Officer of Atlanta Habitat for Humanity
- Michael Halicki, Executive Director of Park Pride
- Doug Hooker, Executive Director of Atlanta Regional Commission
- Rebecca Serna, Executive Director of Atlanta Bicycle Coalition
June 2021: From Good to Great – Going Beyond Atlanta’s ParkScore
In May, The Trust for Public Land released an updated ParkScore ranking, showing that Atlanta’s score had slipped from 40th to 49th among the 100 largest US cities. What actions can we take now to get our city back on track?
At this Park Pride Virtual Roundtable, Charlie McCabe, parks and placemaking expert, shared the findings from a recent study (commissioned by The Trust for Public Land and funded by The Arthur M. Blank Foundation) of Atlanta’s park system. He also discussed recommendations to making great parks accessible to all Atlantans.
City of Atlanta Mayoral candidates (or representatives from their campaign) were also on hand to provide their responses to the study’s findings.
October 2020: Outdoor Play in Times of Crisis
Imagine you’re a child living through the COVID-19 pandemic in a home without a backyard in a neighborhood without a park? Where could you go outside to play and enjoy the fresh air that’s safe? The lack of a neighborhood park is a reality for far too many Atlantans; approximately 28% according to the most recent Parkscore Ranking.
Theresa Casey, an internationally recognized expert on play, has spent years studying the experience of children in crisis situations (like that which we face today) and the vital role of outdoor play for healthy coping, learning, and childhood development.
Live from Edinburgh, Scotland, Theresa shared her findings about the basic need to play, the mental and physiological benefits of play, and why outdoor play is essential for children.
Theresa is the author of a brief, easy to read publication directed to “parents and careers” with practical advice on play in the time of COVID. The publication, entitled Play in Crisis, has been translated into multiple languages and is available for download from the International Play Association.
June 2020: OUTdoors. INclusive. A Vision of Nature for All
As Atlanta adjusted to the reality of COVID-19, the importance of access to nature became even more apparent. With the city shut down, it was no surprise that more and more people turned to neighborhood parks to engage with nature and relieve stress.
Not all Atlantans have been reaping the health benefits of nature during this difficult time, however. Many communities – and particularly communities of color – do not have access to nature near their homes. The global health pandemic and corresponding shutdown have highlighted disparities in access to nature like never before, and amplified the urgent need for action.
This past year, through the generous support of the Turner Foundation, Park Pride and our partner nonprofits worked to advance a city-wide shift in attitudes and policies about equitable access to parks and nature, and are moving forward with several initiatives designed to form meaningful connections between people from all walks of life with nature.
At this Roundtable, Park Pride, The Nature Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land, and the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance discussed innovative ways groups are using parks to drive positive health, economic and social outcomes. From a visionary nature park on the south side of Atlanta to a program helping children have foundational experiences in nature, learn how advancing a vision of Nature for All has the potential to revolutionize environmental advocacy in Atlanta.