Guest Post by: Shauna Friedman
In Kitsap County, public parks are crucial community spaces. Everyone deserves access to green spaces where they can play outdoor sports and games, enjoy sunny afternoon walks with their friends, and simply relax. But in order for an area to maintain clean public parks, these outdoor oases need advocates. By working with Leadership Kitsap, you can pitch in with impactful community projects and provide essential support for the county’s public parks. Here’s how to ensure that the public parks in your area remain a welcoming space for years to come.
Designing Parks With a Purpose
Parks serve a variety of purposes in a given community. In Kitsap County, many people come to public parks to spend time with their loved ones, enjoy the outdoors, and get some exercise. Public parks can even be used as networking spaces! Local organizations or companies may want to hold outdoor events at the parks and utilize these spaces to bring people together.
Think carefully about the purpose of a particular park before proposing any changes – for instance, if people will be using a space for networking, they definitely won’t want to feel cramped. Make sure that it’s easy to maneuver around the space so that no one will feel cornered.
Inspiring Community Initiatives
Are you wondering how you can make a difference for your local parks? If you’re not sure where to begin, you can start by researching other successful community service projects in Kitsap County for inspiration. For instance, the Safe Parks, Safe Solutions project involved several community organizations collaborating to install needle collection bins in multiple local parks. Additionally, the Wild Society Community Hike Day project facilitated a gear drive and Family Hike Day at a Kitsap County park. Projects like these help people stay safe in public parks and rekindle their love of the great outdoors.
Connecting With Local Government
In order to effectively advocate for your public parks and other community spaces, you need to learn how to communicate with your local government. At first, this might sound a little nerve-wracking – but with time, you’ll get more comfortable reaching out to your elected officials. For example, She Should Run recommends attending city council meetings, joining a local board or commission, or volunteering on a political campaign for a candidate in your county or district.
Creating Accessible Parks
How can you ensure that everyone feels truly comfortable at your local public parks? Make sure that these spaces are not just designed for able-bodied people. It’s important that people with disabilities can enjoy public parks to the fullest, too. Rethinking the Future recommends using multi-sensory elements in playground designs, having ramps, seats and tables, and clear passageways available to visitors, and using non-slip materials for walkways.
Keeping Parks Safe
Everyone needs to be safe when they’re at a public park. The safety of park visitors should be paramount. Unsafe incidents in public parks can cause people to feel less invested in funding and supporting public spaces. But what can you do to ensure that your parks are genuinely safe? Protect visitors against the heat, as well as the wind and precipitation during the rainy season, by planting trees and building shelters, establish a clean-up program to get rid of litter, and hire contractors to maintain any equipment so that no one gets hurt while using it.
Public parks are essential for the health of any community. If you care about your local parks, but you’re not sure how to advocate for them, these tips will show you how! By applying these strategies and ideas, you’ll be able to go the extra mile as a public park advocate.
Want to get involved with community service in Kitsap County? Get plugged in with Leadership Kitsap! By applying for the program and connecting with community service projects, you can become part of our next leadership cohort.
Shauna Friedman has made volunteering and activism a driving force in her life and regularly volunteers for local organizations, canvas for political candidates she believes in, and demonstrate support issues that are important to them and the world. She created Service Powered to encourage others to make community action a central aspect of how they live their lives.