Park Pride Parks and Greenspace Conference


Parks & People: A Declaration of Interdependence

Quick Links to Conference Presentations
Morning Keynote - Peter Harnik
Morning Keynote - Cynthia Nikitin
Midday Keynote - Thomas Woltz
Afternoon Keynote - Alexie Torres-Fleming

Morning Sessions
Community Improvement Districts: Improving Parks and Places
20/20 Vision: The Role of Park Visioning in Shaping the Future of Your Greenspace
Creating High-Performance Public Spaces©: Effectively Blending Society, Economics and the Environment
ioby: A Community Fundraising and Engagement Tool
People for Parks: Perspectives on Park Creation and Greenspace Preservation

Afternoon Sessions
The Evolution of a Park Conservancy
Greenspace Heroes - 1
Greenspace Heroes - 2
Just Green Enough: Contesting Environmental Gentrification

The Parks & Greenspace Conference will feature four Keynote speakers, as well as ten breakout sessions focusing on different aspects of the interdependence of parks and communities.

Keynote Speakers

Peter Photo Peter Harnik is Director of The Trust for Public Land's Center for City Park Excellence. He has led numerous research projects into what makes for great park systems, and he speaks frequently and writes widely about the relationship between cities and parks. His most recent book, Urban Green: Innovative Parks for Resurgent Cities, published in 2010 by Island Press, was named one of the five best books of that year by the American Society of Landscape Architects' blog.

Cynthia Photo Cynthia Nikitin is the Senior Vice President of Project for Public Spaces. Her expertise stretches from the development of downtown master plans and transit facility enhancement projects, to the development of public art master plans, to using placemaking to create safer cities, and more. She facilitates approximately 40 public workshops, visioning sessions, and public meetings annually. Cynthia serves as the Director of the National Endowment for the Arts Citizens' Institute on Rural Design, managing the corporate-sponsored "Heart of the Community" program, and spearheads Project for Public Spaces's alliance with UN-HABITAT to create 300 great public spaces in cities across the developing world.

Alexie Photo Alexie Torres-Fleming is the Executive Director of Access Strategies Fund, and an activist, community organizer, advocate and urban planner from the South Bronx, NY. She co-founded the Bronx River Alliance and the Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance to support community residents of the South Bronx committed to the reclamation and restoration of the Bronx River. The organizations' successes included the clean-up of an abandoned concrete plant and a manufactured gas plant, the expansion of the Bronx River bike and pedestrian greenway and development of green infrastructure to contain storm water and mitigate sewage overflow.

Woltz PhotoThomas Woltz is the owner of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects (NBW). In 2011 he was invested into the American Society of Landscape Architects Council of Fellows, among the highest honors achieved in the profession, and was named the Design Innovator of the Year by the Wall Street Journal Magazine in 2013. Woltz is leading NBW towards creating and reinvigorating public spaces through community engagement and public-private partnerships, as reflected in projects such as Centennial Park (Nashville), Memorial Park (Houston), and Hudson Yard (New York City).

7:30 - 8:30 AM    --    Registration & Continental Breakfast

Hardin Visitor Center

Day Hall

8:30 - 10:25 AM    --    Welcome & Opening Plenary Session

Day Hall

8:45 - 9:25am    --    Another Change in Climate: The Heating up of the Urban Parks Movement

The Trust for Public Land

Keynote Speaker:
Peter Harnik, Director, The Trust for Public Land, Center for City Park Excellence

Peter Harnik has been following and investigating the growth and evolution of the city parks movement for nearly two decades. He has helped chart and analyze the resurgence of urban parks from the depths of despair in the 1980s to such breakthrough successes today as Piedmont and Centennial Olympic Parks in Atlanta, Millennium Park in Chicago, Railroad Park in Birmingham and the High Line in New York. Harnik will discuss the latest techniques in park-building, park-fixing and park-funding, as well as the critical role that park advocates must have in the process.

9:30 - 10:10am    --    Parks as Multi-Use Destinations and Catalysts for Community Development

Keynote Speaker:
Cynthia Nikitin, Senior Vice President, Project for Public Spaces

With the importance of parks growing in the public's consciousness, now is the time to question what distinguishes great parks. Project for Public Spaces has identified nine strategies that help parks achieve their full potential to become active, multi-use, accessible, inclusive, safe public spaces that enhance neighborhoods and catalyze local economic development, highlight community authenticity and support multiple users.

10:25 - 10:40 AM    --   TRANSITION TO SESSIONS

Sessions take place in rooms throughout the Atlanta Botanical Garden and will begin promptly. Please see the map on Page 3 for reference. Park Pride staff and volunteers will also be available to guide you.


•    Community Improvement Districts: Improving Parks and Places

George Dusenbury, IV

Kevin Green, President & CEO, Midtown Alliance
A.J. Robinson, President, Central Atlanta Progress (CAP) and Atlanta Downtown Improvement District (ADID)
Denise Starling, Executive Director, Livable Buckhead

The City of Atlanta's Community Improvement Districts invest significant time, money and effort to create new public spaces and improve existing ones. Listen to three Atlanta business leaders discuss how and why they invest so heavily in parks.

•    ioby: A Community Fundraising and Engagement Tool

Erin Barnes, Co-founder & Executive Director, ioby

How can crowd-funding support park advocates in Atlanta and other great cities? Join a discussion with ioby (In Our Back Yards), a fundraising platform for communities, to hear real-life case studies of how neighborhood and park groups from Brooklyn to Los Angeles use crowd-resourcing to fund their neighborhood-transforming work.

•    20/20 Vision: The Role of Park Visioning in Shaping the Future of Your Greenspace

Walt Ray, Director of Park Visioning, Park Pride

Byron Amos, Friends of Vine City Park
Mandy LeCompte, Friends of Little Nancy Creek Park
Barbara Marin, Friends of Springbrook Park

Park Visioning is a collaborative process that helps communities identify the unique character and needs of their neighborhood to create a shared vision for a local greenspace. Representatives from three communities will share stories and offer insights into the transformative impact of the process on both the community and their park.

•    Creating High-Performance Public Spaces©: Effectively Blending Society, Economics and the Environment

HR&A Advisors

Candace Damon, Vice Chairman, HR&A Advisors

David Barth, Principal, Barth Associates
Connie Chung, Director, HR&A Advisors
Erica Madsen, Project Manager, Foresite Group

A High-Performance Public Space© (HPPS) is defined as a publicly accessible space that generates economic, environmental, and social sustainability benefits for the local community. An HPPS can be a park, trail, square, green, natural area, plaza or any other element of the 'public realm' that generates all three types of benefits. This panel discussion will focus on the unique qualities that lead to the creation of HPPSs, the factors that influence their planning and design, and case studies from Florida, Atlanta, and Boston.

•    People for Parks: Perspectives on Park Creation and Greenspace Preservation

Jonah McDonald, Author of Hiking Atlanta's Hidden Forests

Mera Cardenas, Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance, Inc.
Bruce Morton, Beecher Hampton Nature Preserve
Rochelle Routman , Morningside Nature Preserve

A panel of park advocates will discuss the importance of engaging a broad range of partners, including citizens, community leaders, government, nonprofits, funders, environmental advocates, and experts in land acquisition and development. Hear stories about the creation of Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, Hampton-Beecher Nature Preserve, and Morningside Nature Preserve, and learn about the multiple stages of staffing, funding, and development involved in protecting these greenspaces.

12:00 - 12:50 PM    --    PICNIC LUNCH

Day Hall

12:50 - 2:00 PM    --    MID-DAY PLENARY SESSION

Day Hall

12:50 - 1:05pm    --    Inspiration Awards

Commissioner Amy Phuong, City of Atlanta, Department of Parks and Recreation
Director Roy Wilson, DeKalb County, Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs

Park Pride's Annual Inspiration Awards recognize outstanding achievements in the parks and greenspace field. They honor leaders from across Park Pride's service area who inspire others to expand and improve public parks and greenspaces and work to raise awareness about critical issues.

1:10 - 1:50 pm    --    Private/Public Partnerships and the Creation of Resilient Public Space

Keynote Speaker:
Thomas Woltz, Owner, Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects (NBW)

Public/private partnerships have become the engines that drive the creation of public spaces. Thomas Woltz will discuss strategies and tactics in park creation, stormwater management, sustainable agriculture, and funding partnerships that transform degraded sites into healthy, connected and engaging civic spaces. Recent NBW projects illustrate that resiliency is achieved through the engagement of communities and stakeholders and through the consideration of the ecologic and economic health of our greenspaces.

2:00 - 2:15 PM    --    TRANSITION TO SESSIONS

Sessions take place in rooms throughout the Atlanta Botanical Garden and will begin promptly. Please see the map on Page 3 for reference. Park Pride staff and volunteers will also be available to guide you.


•    Just Green Enough: Contesting Environmental Gentrification

Tami Thomas-Burton, United States Environmental Protection Agency

Winifred Curran, Associate Professor, DePaul University

As cities strive to make their urban landscapes greener, environmental gentrification is a growing concern. Improvements like parks and bike paths raise surrounding property values and housing costs, which often result in the displacement of working class residents. Learn how sustainable development can provide communities with alternative ways of thinking about economic development, resource use, and social justice.

•    From Park to Plate: Civic Agriculture & Public Greenspace

Kwabena Nkromo, Founder, Atlanta Food and Farm, PBC Inc.
Ayanna Williams, Director of Community Building, Park Pride

Fred Conrad, Community Garden Manager, Atlanta Community Food Bank
Suzanne Girdner, Director, Atlanta Local Food Initiative
Alsie Parks, Office Coordinator, American Community Garden Association
Tina Perrin, Gardener, Welch Street Park Community Garden

The term "farm to table" has been popularized by the local food movement to emphasize the importance and value of establishing a more direct relationship between farmers and consumers. This session will explore the civic and agricultural benefits of growing food within City of Atlanta parks, or "park to plate," and highlight the resources that are available.

•    Greenspace Heroes

Jami Buck-Vance, Senior Manager, Corporate Responsibility & Communications, Cox Enterprises

Joy Carter, Leader, Friends of Constitution Lakes
Na'Taki Osborne Jelks, Co-founder, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance
Angel Poventud, Community Activist

Come hear from three local Cox Conserves heroes who have played pivotal roles in the creation, preservation and enhancement of parks and greenspaces in our community. Learn how these heroes leveraged their time, enthusiasm and community connections to turn suffering spaces into successful community places.

•    The Evolution of a Park Conservancy

Mark Banta, Executive Director, Piedmont Park Conservancy
Rosa McHugh, Executive Director, Chastain Park Conservancy
Catherine Spillman, Executive Director, Atlanta Memorial Park Conservancy

The directors of three Atlanta park conservancies at different stages of development will provide a comprehensive look at the evolution of park conservancies. The panel will offer unique perspectives on the operations, funding mechanisms and donor relations of their organizations.

•    How to Grow a Local Land Trust

The Conservation Fund

Stacy Funderburke, Assistant Regional Counsel, The Conservation Fund

Miriam Avins, Founder, Baltimore Green Space
Robin Cline, Assistant Director, NeighborSpace

Two greenspace enthusiasts will discuss the benefits and workings of local land trusts, entities that own land for the benefit of others. Using Baltimore Green Space (Baltimore) and NeighborSpace (Chicago) as the framework, this presentation will explore mechanisms of creating land trusts, as well as the challenges of maintaining them. The panelists will share strategies for navigating internal conflict, maintenance problems, and misunderstandings to keep well-loved greenspace in the hands of community members.


Closing session will begin promptly in Day Hall. Please see the map on Page 3 for reference. Park Pride staff and volunteers will also be available to guide you.


Day Hall

3:45 - 4:00pm    --    Announcement of 2016 Conference Theme

4:00 - 4:40pm    --    From the Ground Up -A Story of Community Action along the Bronx River

American Rivers

Keynote Speaker:
Alexie Torres-Fleming, Executive Director, Access Strategies Fund

Alexie Torres-Fleming believes that empowering communities with the skills and tools needed to engender change is as important as the physical results. In 1994, she founded Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice (YMPJ) to prepare young people to become voices for peace and justice. Under her leadership, YMPJ developed riverside parks, restored the Bronx River and improved access to it, and cleaned up brownfields. Ms. Torres-Fleming will share her experience working for positive change in her community and along the Bronx River.

5:00 PM    --    RECEPTION

Mershon Hall

Ed Castro Landscape