March 2011 - Parks & Recreation - 29

Crawford, was a master at mobilizing citizen support-turning out a thousand citizens at a city hall meeting, phoning their
councilperson, knocking on doors to alert
neighbors of a tentative cutback in services. He helped residents understand that
the parks, playgrounds, and recreation
programs were part of the community-
their community.
Parks and recreation needs to return
to this approach-but arming professionals and volunteers with information about
the benefits of such services in the process. Citizen boards and councils need to
be informed and ready to stay in the faces
of those who make decisions. The incredibly wealthy 1 percent of the American
public, which has the same economic resources as the lower 90 percent, doesn't
generally use park and recreation services-and often doesn't care if they exist. It's time to fight back. Time to return
our field to citizens who care about issues
such as obesity, urban economic development, juvenile delinquency, independent living for the elderly, physical fitness,
contact with nature, growing healthy food
in urban gardens, economic development
of their city, the ability to walk where one
lives, and learning skill-challenge forms
of leisure activity that carry over into work
skills. This kind of investment in social
and environmental infrastructure is key to
a higher standard of living. It's time to get
mad, get organized, and time to say that
we value our children, our families, and
our natural areas. Time to ask citizens to
step forward; time to turn the political action over to them.
As Dr. John Crompton (now a mayor
pro tem for a Texas city) has observed,
park and recreation boards need members who can interpret these research
findings to the public-and to political
decision-makers. Nurses and physicians
who understand the benefits of increasing physical activity and reducing stress,
hotel managers who realize the profits to
local businesses from sport tournaments
and other special events, representatives of minority groups who have seen
their park and recreation opportunities
	

deteriorate. All must play a major role.
The cuts to park and recreation budgets
have been acts of ignorance.
It is time for us and, more importantly,
the public, to turn out and say " We're mad
as hell and we're not going to take it anymore " -and to do so based on the facts.

Dr. Geoffrey Godbey is the President

of Next Consulting, a company concerned
with re-positioning leisure and tourism
services for the near future. He is also
Professor Emeritus in the Department of
Recreation, Park and Tourism
Management at Penn State University.
The author of 10 books and more than 100
articles concerning leisure, work, time use,
aging, recreation and parks, tourism,
health, and the future, he is the past
President of the Academy of Leisure
Sciences. Godbey is co-author with Andrew
Mowen of the recent NRPA white paper,
" The Benefits of Physical Activity Provided
by Parks and Recreation Services. "

References
American Society of Civil Engineers. 2009.
Report card for America's infrastructure-
public parks and recreation-2009 grade C-.
Retrieved May 24, 2010, from http://www.
infrastructurereportcard.org/fact-sheet/
public-facilities-public-parks-and-recreation.
Brooks, D. 2011. The Freedom Alliance.
New York Times, Feb. 11. http://www.
nytimes.com/2011/02/11/opinion/11brooks.
html?_r=1&ref=opinion.
Crompton, J. Personal
communication. Feb. 5, 2011.
Godbey, G., and A. Mowen. 2010. The benefits
of physical activity provided by park and
recreation services: The scientific evidence.
National Recreation and Park Association.
Smith, T. 2007. Trends in national spending
priorities, 1973-2006. General Social
Survey, National Opinion Research
Center. University of Chicago, IL.
The Trust for Public Land. 2009. Center for city
park excellence. Retrieved May 24, 2010, from
www.tpl.org/tier2_pa.cfm?folder_id=3208.
Zinn, H. 2011. Cited by Herbert, B. When
democracy weakens. New York Times.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/12/
opinion/12herbert.html?_r=1&ref=opinion.

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March 2011 - Parks & Recreation

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