Youth Development

Youth Development

Engaging youth in the outdoors can unleash their curiosity about nature, build confidence, and strengthen leadership skills, ultimately supporting careers in the sciences, recreation, conservation and elsewhere. Urban parks and park and recreation agencies are rich with opportunity to empower youth and help them succeed. Speakers will focus on parks and programs that are providing close-to-home camping experiences, supporting new kinds of outdoor recreation, strengthening advocacy around environmental and social change, and offering “green” job training and employment in the parks profession and related fields. This track will also explore strategies for building greater diversity in the emerging leadership of parks and conservation. 

Healthy Systems

Planning Healthy Systems

City parks and open spaces improve our physical and mental well-being and make our cities and neighborhoods more attractive and healthy places to live. This track will explore the components of healthy and equitable park systems, such as linkages between parks and greenways, and connections to housing and development. Water management is also an important key to creating healthier communities. We’ll explore the vision of the Twin Cities’ historic park systems, built to address swamp land, and how both cities are preparing for and transitioning to 21st century changes, from climate to demographics to downtown investment, using their system of green spaces, lakes and the river. Our host cities will showcase major projects planned along the Mississippi River—the Great River Passage in Saint Paul and RiverFirst in Minneapolis—to create equitable recreational opportunities and sustain growth over the next generation. This track will also focus on green infrastructure, four-season recreation, and adaptive waterfront park development, with perspectives from mayors and public officials, healthcare providers, developers, and community leaders.  

Creative Culture

The Creative Culture of Parks

Parks are the democratic spaces of a city, where communities come together to express their identity. They provide an important setting for arts and cultural programming with multiple benefits: the arts can play an essential role in revitalizing a park, parks in turn can help introduce new audiences to artists and cultural organizations, and they both help strengthen local interaction among neighbors. In today’s urban parks, you’ll find everything from drum circles and sculpture installations to large scale music or dance performances, local theater, and outdoor films. Cities are also linking arts and greenspace to revitalize downtowns and neighborhoods, through “creative place making” that enlivens streets life via cultural trails, pop-up parks and place-based events. How do communities, artists and arts groups, and city agencies work together to integrate art into public land or the public realm? How is this done with respect to historical legacies as well as traditions of new immigrant communities? What are the opportunities for co-programming between parks and cultural institutions?
City Parks 101

City Parks Essentials

Explore all of the essential topics around sustainable park creation and management, including: public-private partnerships, building “friends” groups, park advocacy, innovative park funding, earned income strategies, technology tools, philanthropy, and other issues. This track provides the basic building blocks for connecting parks with other essential city functions through multi-sector collaboration.