Helen Beck

PhD Candidate at University of Washington

Originally from England, I moved with my family to Seattle nearly five years ago. I’m a social researcher and worked in the UK for charities, non-profits and publicly funded organizations conducting and managing research. Over the years I’ve carried out research relating to housing, drug addiction, skills, employment and the environment. For five years I worked for the English government conducting research with public park and recreation agencies to demonstrate the value of urban public parks.

In 2020 I joined the PhD Program in the Built Environment at the University of Washington, College of Built Environments. My research is focused on the management of public park and recreation services in urban areas. I am particularly interested in the role of the modern green space manager and the way in which our public park services are delivered in the face of extreme poverty.

Public parks are on the frontline in our cities responding to complex social and environmental challenges. This role is likely to get more important in the future. Short-term, broken window styles of park management that try to control and sanitize park use are not sustainable. I am exploring the application of an ethic of care to the delivery of park services, what this could entail, and how this would change current practice.