Greater and Greener to Highlight Bay Area Park Stewardship

The leading international conference for urban parks takes place in San Francisco next month. The Greater and Greener conference is designed to bring together the nation’s urban parks leaders, including city planning and design professionals, public officials, parks and trails, and open space advocates, funders and innovators.

Greater and Greener occurs every few years in a major North American city to explore the opportunities and challenges facing today’s urban parks. The last incarnation of this conference took place in 2012 in New York City, drawing more than 900 people from across the United States and several countries. Organizers said it was the largest crowd of parks advocates ever assembled.

It was an amazing experience that informed me of the universality of the issues San Jose shares with cities across the country. The valuable opportunity that Greater and Greener offers is the sharing of solutions and ideas among the participants. Workshops, tours and discussions help the experts connect with those of us looking for answers.

Greater and Greener is presented by City Parks Alliance, the national organization for those involved in management, stewardship and advocacy for urban parks in particular and community parks in general. San Jose Parks Foundation is a member of the alliance.

Held on April 11 and 12, Greater and Greener will feature learning tours of San Francisco parks and trails, followed by two days of workshops and seminars and some additional tours, sprinkled in with time set aside for networking. The event plans to host more than 1,000 leaders and touch on urban park design, development, programming, funding and sustainability.

The San Francisco Bay Area is considered a good example of how creativity and innovation can be applied to park systems for the benefit of urban communities. Our foundation will send at least three board members to the symposium, along with yours truly. Several other San Jose parks professionals and advocates will be going, too, as this is an excellent opportunity for anyone who cares about parks to have access to the best thinking, the most innovative solutions and direct dialog with America’s leading experts.

The conference is open to anyone who is interested. Attendees may join for a single session, buy tickets to special events a la carte or buy a pass to the entire conference.

James P. Reber is the executive director of San Jose Parks Foundation, a veteran nonprofit entrepreneur and experienced special event planner and producer. He can be reached at [email protected] or 408.893.PARK.

2 Comments

  1. > … and open space advocates,…

    It’s about time that all of the “open space advocacy” gets some serious scrutiny.

    The first and foremost issue is that it takes huge amounts of land out of the marketplace and off of the tax rolls, thereby driving up the tax burden for the remaining property owners.

    Another issue with “open space” is that it’s misuse and abuse is a useful tool to for opposing and obstructing “development”, which is the private determination of the highest and best use of private property.

    Then, there is the whole shabby issue of insider privilege. Many “open space” properties are very grand, and very “restricted”. Only “caretakeers” and “custodians” can access and use the facilites to “make sure they are preserved for the public”.

    I’m sure that everyone has a story, I am aware of an “open space advocate” in another community who contacted a wealthy businessman and asked him to buy an “open space” parcel that would have created a buffer zone next to her property and — surprise! — increased the value of her property dramatically.

    “Open space” is one of this lovely touchy-feely terms that witl get any ballot measure passed. But it’s time for the public to smarten up start paying attention to who is benefiting and who is getting screwed from the largely unexamanied transfers of massive amounts of property in our local area.