The challenges facing cities are daunting. From systemic inequities and economic disparities to more frequent and more devastating extreme weather events, cities are being forced to find solutions to confront climate change and improve the quality of life for all of their residents, especially those who have historically been marginalized.
The upcoming Greater & Greener (June 18-21, Philadelphia), City Parks Alliance’s biennial urban parks event, showcases the ways cities are integrating city parks as part of comprehensive resiliency planning.
City managers and planners have long recognized the many benefits that flow from investment in a robust urban parks and recreation system. Urban parks help manage stormwater and mitigate flooding through smart gray and green infrastructure. They filter rain, reduce water pollution, protect drinking water and decrease the rates of waterborne illness. They provide tree coverage that helps cool the built environment, reducing the heat-island effect. Urban parks also contribute to a healthy citizenry, reducing the costs of physical and mental healthcare. And they’re on the frontlines of efforts to ensure equity with responsive and inclusive parks programming.
This June 18-21, with Philadelphia as our backdrop, through panel discussions, and interactive tours and mobile workshops, we offer participants at Greater & Greener multiple opportunities to learn how cities are responding to these existential threats by leveraging and investing in urban parks. We know that you’ll leave refreshed, inspired and with practical tools you can use back home.
Here’s a sample of what’s on offer:
Pioneering Plants, Participation and Partnerships: Stormwater Management for a Greener Future. Last year, the Philadelphia Water Department reached its year-10 milestone goal of more than 2,150 greened acres, keeping more than 2 billion gallons of polluted water out of rivers annually. See it in action, exploring two city parks as case studies, and hear from PWD staff how they and their partners pulled it off.
Local Strategies for Climate Resiliency. Southwest Yonkers, NY, home to 80,000 residents, is a historically marginalized and racially-segregated community along the Hudson River. We highlight the work of three civic space programs showcasing effective climate justice partnerships between grassroots constituencies and major public institutions.
Managing Urban Land for Climate Resiliency. The path toward building healthy and resilient cities requires big shifts in urban land management practices and conservation. Take a deep-dive into innovative solutions, such as managing trash, planting experimental micro-forests, measuring carbon storage in urban forests and community-centered decision-making in climate-ready programs.
Cooling Off in the Age of Climate Change. We’ll hear from experts about why extreme heat is the least visible, yet most dangerous, weather effect of climate change, especially for underserved communities. Learn about innovative pilot programs aimed at overcoming barriers to increasing tree canopy and how to improve access to public pools.
Learn to Float: Building Resilience with Human-Made Wetlands. Explore how floating wetlands can be used to increase access, improve water quality, and mitigate the effects of climate change across three case studies in Boston, Chicago, and Baltimore, and how authentic community engagement was incorporated into these innovative projects.
The Global Context: Parks’ Roles in Health, Climate and Biodiversity. Learn how park systems in Mexico, the UK and Canada are addressing health equity, climate change and the biodiversity crisis, and how COVID-19 has impacted the intersection of parks and public health.
Explore these and many other sessions via our conference schedule. Our goal is to inspire and excite you with experiences, ideas, tips and lessons learned. At Greater & Greener, you’ll meet urban leaders from across the country and around the world — and we’ll get you outdoors to see on-the-ground examples of innovative park projects that work. Register today so you don’t miss a thing!
Catherine Nagel is the executive director of City Parks Alliance.