Magazine article Parks & Recreation

The Youngest Master Planners

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

The Youngest Master Planners

Article excerpt

Everett Parks and Recreation, Everett, Washington

DIRECTOR: Paul Kaftanski

INNOVATION: Children-armed with cameras-help with park master planning

SUMMARY: A group of local children were given an opportunity to provide suggestions to help create a new park master plan, by asking them to photograph their favorite park amenities.

Garrison Keillor once said, "Nothing you do for a child is ever wasted." In the City of Everett, Washington, we put that sentiment to the test in its master planning process. We provided a group of local English-and non-English-speaking children the opportunity to influence the park planning process by giving them cameras to take pictures of their favorite park amenities. We then incorporated many of their favorites into the final design. Their master planning input, communicated through the lens of a camera, provided insights into the recreational desires of our young park patrons.

One might consider involving children in master planning a risky venture. However, our departmental culture is infused with DNA that welcomes calculated risk-taking (based upon sound data), promotes experimentation within the context of best business and industry practices, and encourages innovation. These values and practices stem from our business principles-and are embedded within our department's strategic plan. Other examples of departmental innovation include customer GIS mapping, contract instructor incentives, and differentiated and peak seasonal pricing.

We facilitated a held trip to four area parks and playgrounds, with children from one of our summer parks day camps. …

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