How ‘Park In A Truck’ Is Creating Healthier Communities – Next City

How ‘Park In A Truck’ Is Creating Healthier Communities

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

1:00pm - 2:00pm Eastern

On Wednesday, August 12, at 1 p.m. Eastern, join Next City for our webinar with Kimberlee Douglas, the director of the Landscape Architecture program and director of the Lab for Urban and Social Innovation at Thomas Jefferson University. During this webinar, she will discuss “How ‘Park In A Truck’ Is Creating Healthier Communities.”

As cities continue to grapple with new realities brought on by an ongoing public-health crisis, communities are finding creative ways to design and manage public spaces. In 2019, the William Penn Foundation funded a research project with Temple University that conclusively identified the community benefits of maintaining public spaces — and the harms inherent in not doing so. For example, public spaces that are not well maintained invite litter, provoke fear of criminal activity, cause stress to area residents and send the message that a community is not valued. 

The Park in a Truck Initiative at Thomas Jefferson University reimagines how social, ecological and economic networks in cities are designed, built and maintained. Park in a Truck is a community-operated green network established through low-cost, fast-turnaround renovations of vacant lots. The initiative not only improves environmental, social and physical health in under-resourced neighborhoods, but also unites efforts to keep these spaces intact and helps residents take the lead in revitalization and reinvestment efforts. 

So far, they have built one park, with three more in the works. A park ambassador program has been implemented that pays local youth to program and maintain the parks. Park in a Truck has also completed an open-source toolkit that gives communities step-by-step instructions for how to design, build and maintain a park of their own. 

“Simply living near a park makes you healthier.,” says Douglas. “Exposure to green spaces boosts mental health and psychological well-being and helps reduce blood pressure, decrease cardiovascular disease mortality, increase social well-being, and promote positive health behaviors. Philadelphia needs more parks in under-resourced neighborhoods.”

Kim Douglas is the Director of the Landscape Architecture program and Director of the Lab for Urban and Social Innovation at Thomas Jefferson University. She was recently awarded the Anton Germinshuzen Stantec Term Chair in Landscape Architecture, which allows her to continue research on the effects of contact with nature on children. 

This webinar is to pay what you wish to register. Pay any amount that you would like or nothing at all. Those who become sustaining members of at least $5 a month, or who make a one-time donation of at least $20, may receive “19 Best Solutions of 2019” — Next City’s solutions of the year magazine. Your contribution toward this seminar will be used to find even more amazing guests, cover hosting fees and organize seminars like this one more frequently. A video of the webinar will be made available to those who register.

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