Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Great Ideas Flourish in Texas

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Great Ideas Flourish in Texas

Article excerpt

NRPA's 2013 Congress sparked inspiration and advanced the field of parks and recreation

With more than 6,000 at- tendees, 375 exhibitors and 250 education ses- sions, the 2013 NRPA Congress and Exposition only added to the mantra that "everything is bigger in Texas." The focus of this year's event was on Great Ideas - and they came with a flourish. Over three days, attendees, speakers and exhibitors swapped great ideas during count- less networking events, education sessions and on the expo floor, and individuals and agencies nationwide received recognition for their great ideas as well.

It Starts With Two Words

With NRPA's three pillars in the background, the Opening General Session set the stage for three days of learning, networking and sharing. Each of the speakers focused on two key words they felt exemplified the profession and the association. Outgoing Chair Steve Thompson, CPRP, spoke about "customer ser- vice." He said that parks and recre- ation will flourish because "we never, ever forget the human element." The same goes for NRPA, he stated.

"I am buoyed by the fact that NRPA strives to constantly reinvent itself and stay ahead of the curve, with sophis- ticated data-management tools, com- munication devices and membership resources that help you perform at the top of your game," he said.

NRPA President and CEO Barbara Tulipane then took the stage to dis- cuss the "new normal" and "social equity." She began her remarks by sharing the results of a 2010 survey where members reported that with- in two years they felt their agencies would be back to where they were be- fore the economic slowdown. "So, do you feel we are back to normal?" she asked. "Let's face it. We are living in a world where change is constant and it's happening at breakneck speed. So, the questions before us are, how do we anticipate change and how do we know that our response to that change is right?"

Tulipane went on to explain that a number of new economic models have emerged within the field. "And do these new models threaten the very thing that truly sets our work apart - our unique ability to provide access to health, wellness, conserva- tion and many other benefits to all people in the communities we serve? I certainly hope not."

The fact is, Tulipane said, that peo- ple of all colors, economic means, and physical and mental abilities have access to parks and recreation. "So as our world continues to change and as we consider emerging models, we must not forget the role we have in the public good, the role we have in social equity."

Tulipane turned the stage over to incoming Chair Robert Ashcraft who discussed "collective impact." Ashcraft explained that collective impact is "the ability to come together in a collabora- tive way to achieve substantial impact on large-scale social problems."

Ashcraft then outlined the five characteristics that separate collective impact from casual forms of collabo- ration. Those are a common agenda, shared measurement systems, mutu- ally reinforcing activities, continuous communication and the presence of a backbone organization.

Through the three pillars, PROR- AGIS, programs like 10 Million Kids Outdoors and publications like Parks & Recreation Magazine, Ashcraft said that NRPA exemplifies a collective impact movement. "We are seeing more and more people out there - from average citizens to federal enti- ties to elected officials coming to the realization that parks and recreation is essential - and we should feel proud of that," he said. You can see videos of Thompson, Tulipane and Ashcraft at www.youtube. …

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