Come Together: Park, Recreation and Open Space Cooperatives

By Haas, Glenn | Parks & Recreation, January 2003 | Go to article overview

Come Together: Park, Recreation and Open Space Cooperatives


Haas, Glenn, Parks & Recreation


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Come Together: Park, Recreation and Open Space Cooperatives

Park and recreation professionals are hardly strangers at building broad-based coalitions. But today's unique conditions require looking past previous models if we're to conserve for the future. Increasingly, our profession needs to establish cooperatives, an idea born in 1762 by Benjamin Franklin and thriving today.

A park, recreation and open space (PROS) cooperative is a recognized association of park, recreation, open space and related entities united voluntarily to achieve through collaboration what can't be achieved through individual and independent action. PROS cooperatives conserve the diversity of valued resources and recreation opportunities for the benefit these afford individuals, communities, the economy and the environment. PROS cooperatives:

Serve as a conduit connecting the diverse public, private and nonprofit entities managing parks, recreation resources and open spaces.

Pursue mutually identified needs, desires and opportunities that can be better achieved through collaboration.

Increase effectiveness through joint ventures.

Expand public understanding and support for conserving a seamless system of diverse recreation opportunities within regions, and help assure reasonable access and inclusiveness for all publics.

Foster a cooperative spirit, creative enterprise, and a level of public service and benefit that isn't possible through individual initiative.

PROS cooperatives have a few underlying principles.

Members are committed to corporate betterment: Cooperative members are investors in important endeavors that can be better achieved-and sometimes only achieved-through collaboration rather than independent action.

Mission is mutually defined: The mission of a PROS cooperative is framed by the mutually defined needs, desires and opportunities that can be better achieved through collaboration. Mutual interests can relate to planning, management, information, research, finances and physical connections. PROS cooperatives are recognizable associations: The nature of the association may range from an informed "virtual" organization, to one codified by a cooperative agreement or memorandum of understanding, to one legislated as a special district or other designation. Cooperatives should have a mission statement, organizational structure, responsibilities, planned direction, committed membership, leadership and accountability.

Membership is voluntary, diverse, open and committed: Membership is open to public (local, state and federal), private and nonprofit entities, and requires a commitment to collaboration. …

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