Last month, Forest Park Forever was pleased to join fellow Park leaders at "Greater & Greener 2015: Innovative Parks, Vibrant Cities," an international conference held in San Francisco and organized by the City Parks Alliance. Attendees included Senior Vice Presidents John O'Gorman and Tamara Sheffield; Park Operations Manager Bill Reininger; President and Executive Director Lesley Hoffarth; and Board member and past Executive Director Jim Mann. Forest Park Forever provided funds for City of St. Louis Park Maintenance Manager Alan Jankowski to attend as well.
Among the key take-aways from those who attended the conference:
- Forest Park Forever is becoming increasingly well known and respected by peers across the country. We heard from many park colleagues who look to our organization — and the strong and unique partnership we have with the City of St. Louis — as a potential model.
- Parks are such an important resource for healthy living, with park walking paths being among their most used assets. (Many readers will recall our work to improve Forest Park's path system last year.)
- It's beneficial for parks to have their own water systems — to eliminate or reduce the need for it to be pumped in — and to look for ways to sync water systems with changing weather conditions. (With our work restoring the Park's waterway system, this has been a focus for us — and will continue to be.)
- When using technology for Park visitors, provide interesting content but accept that there will be experimentation and iteration. (Be on the lookout for a new online interactive map coming this summer!)
- For programs involving young students in parks, don't just think of them as hired help — think how a program can help develop skills and provide longterm gains. (This was affirming to us, with Nature Works being in its first full year.)
Our staff greatly enjoyed hearing from the many impressive speakers and talking with colleagues from parks around the world about how we make our great parks even greater.