Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability: New Watchwords Bring New Opportunities

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability: New Watchwords Bring New Opportunities

Article excerpt

Last month, NRPA headquarters was full of activity as our Board of Trustees gathered for its Spring Meeting. We were honored to have your leaders here--some for the very first time--to meet and talk about the great opportunities for this organization moving into the future. While here, the board approved our operating budget for the new fiscal year, beginning July 1. But they also approved something that has taken a year to develop: an ethic for environmental stewardship in parks and recreation.

You can read more about this groundbreaking document on our Web site, but I want you to know just how important this is for you, for your community, and for the park and recreation movement in America. You see, going green is a hot trend these days, and everyone seemingly wants to get on board--for many and varied reasons. But we have a multitude of reasons that make this more than just a trend for us. Adopting sustainable practices in all we do will improve the work we do in our communities, help citizens to lead better lives, and position parks and recreation as essential and unique services--particularly at the local level and especially in urban areas.

First, the global financial crisis and resulting economic slowdown has required all of us to rethink how we invest tax dollars and deliver services, for the simple reasons that we must reduce energy consumption and cut costs. Smart agencies across the country are taking a hard look at how they can increase efficiency and initiate more sustainable practices. But the heart of our Stewardship Ethic is not just about saving costs, it's about doing the right thing because it will lead park and recreation agencies to reduce carbon emissions, conserve natural resources, and provide leadership and education in our communities.

Yes, now is the right time to adopt green practices in our operations, but it's also time to create new programming and services that educate the public about sustainability in park and recreation facilities as well as provide examples to elected leaders and the community at large. Bottom line: Don't just recycle! Teach citizens, businesses, and government leaders how they can get in on the act.

Second, children and youth are so important to parks and recreation, and we need them to help invest in our future as they grow into adulthood. …

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