August 2021 - 18

FINANCE FOR THE FIELD
Equity: Do We Agree on
What We Are Talking About?
By John L. Crompton, Ph.D.
N
RPA is unequivocal in its commitment to equity, establishing
it as one of the organization's three pillars and declaring, " We
must put equity at the center of all we do. " Ironically, equity
always has been at the center of what we do, because it is implicit
in every decision recreation and park managers make - renovating
one playground rather than another; organizing special events in one area
of the community rather than another; assigning the best recreation managers
to one center rather than another and so on.
It is axiomatic that all of these
routine decisions result in " winners "
and " losers, " because when
resources are allocated to one group
or area they cannot be directed elsewhere.
Nevertheless, it is difficult
for most community members to
get excited about engaging in discussions
about these routine decisions,
even though their cumulative
impact on a neighborhood can have
a substantive impact on residents'
quality of life. Thus, despite its pervasiveness,
equity often remains a
hidden influence of government,
because the impact of routine operational
decisions on equity receive
Equity is an area into
which economists,
philosophers,
political scientists
and lawyers have
ventured, each
bringing a different
perspective.
little explicit attention.
Disputes over " our fair share " are
likely to increase as tax support for
recreation and park departments
continues to decline, populations
increase, tax caps increase, demographics
of urban areas change,
physical facilities deteriorate and
need renovation, more costs are
shifted to users, and community
groups mobilized by social media
multiply.
It is rare to find a park and recreation
agency that has explicitly
articulated an equity policy to guide
service delivery decisions. Three
reasons may account for this inaction.
First, the community may delegate
responsibility for ensuring services
are equitable to the judgement
of park and recreation professionals,
rationalizing that by virtue of
their training, expertise, experience
and intimate knowledge of the community,
they are best equipped to
determine " who ought to get what. "
Second is a lack of consciousness by
elected officials and managers who
have not been alerted to the equity
impact of their decisions of the pervasive
influence in service delivery
decisions. Third, because equity is
a slippery construct that has a wide
range of different interpretations, an
explicit discussion of equity is likely
to be highly controversial and divisive.
Thus, it is unlikely to be welcomed
by either elected officials or
managers.
On occasion, equity is used as
a synonym for equality. This may
be appropriate in some cases, but
it would be a misinterpretation in
18 Parks & Recreation | A UGUS T 2 0 2 1
| PARK S ANDRECRE AT ION . OR G

August 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of August 2021

August 2021 - Intro
August 2021 - Cover1
August 2021 - Cover2
August 2021 - 1
August 2021 - 2
August 2021 - 3
August 2021 - 4
August 2021 - 5
August 2021 - 6
August 2021 - 7
August 2021 - 8
August 2021 - 8a
August 2021 - 8b
August 2021 - 9
August 2021 - 10
August 2021 - 11
August 2021 - 12
August 2021 - 13
August 2021 - 14
August 2021 - 15
August 2021 - 16
August 2021 - 17
August 2021 - 18
August 2021 - 19
August 2021 - 20
August 2021 - 21
August 2021 - 22
August 2021 - 23
August 2021 - 24
August 2021 - 25
August 2021 - 26
August 2021 - 27
August 2021 - 28
August 2021 - 29
August 2021 - 30
August 2021 - 31
August 2021 - 32
August 2021 - 33
August 2021 - 34
August 2021 - 35
August 2021 - 36
August 2021 - 37
August 2021 - 38
August 2021 - 39
August 2021 - 40
August 2021 - 41
August 2021 - 42
August 2021 - 43
August 2021 - 44
August 2021 - 45
August 2021 - 46
August 2021 - 47
August 2021 - 48
August 2021 - 49
August 2021 - 50
August 2021 - 51
August 2021 - 52
August 2021 - 53
August 2021 - 54
August 2021 - 55
August 2021 - 56
August 2021 - Cover3
August 2021 - Cover4
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https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/march-2021
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