Magazine article Parks & Recreation

ORRRC and Homeland Security

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

ORRRC and Homeland Security

Article excerpt

This January marks the 40th anniversary of "Recreation for America," the Report to Congress of the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission (ORRRC). Starting this month, and in each issue of Parks & Recreation in 2002, we will include a section reminding us of the myriad accomplishments that resulted from the recommendations of this landmark commission. In my mind, it is the single most important recreation study of the 20th Century, because of its tangible results. Mr. Laurance Rockefeller, the ORRRC Chairman, and NRPA's first Chairman, opens the series of articles this month with his essay on the importance of the Commission's work.

2002 will also bring our Nation to grips with the most serious challenge to our internal security that we have faced since the War of 1812, when the White House was burned to the ground. The terrorists who have attacked us will not prevail!

While We take action, aggressively, to prevent further terrorist attacks, we must also assure that the homeland that we are defending, and our rights as equal citizens to enjoy the fine quality of life that we have in America, is not jeopardized in the process.

Too many of our elected leaders, at all levels of government, still make the false assumption that parks and recreation are not essential to our citizenry. In the coming year, or longer, we will face the challenge that local, state, and federal governments will try to fund homeland security by transferring public funds away from agencies and functions, such as recreation and parks, that they do not deem to be essential, in order to give greater funding to police, fire, first aid, or other agencies and programs who justify their budgets in terms of homeland security.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Literally in the wake of the collapse of the World Trade Center's twin towers, and radiating out from ground zero even faster than the smoke, dust and debris, Americans, first solemnly, then defiantly, and finally in a truly American spirit of community, gathered in public parks to share their emotions and bond together in a way that happens best in America in our public spaces, and especially in public parks.

That Americans choose to gather in public spaces to grieve and to celebrate should be well known to all. Too often though, we "just do it" and take the public parks for granted, never stopping to realize that having spaces for public gatherings, whether celebration or protest, is an essential American tradition that we cannot allow a focus on homeland security to endanger. …

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