On a Journey to Spread Good Vibes and the Healing Power of Nature — Episode 129
I am so excited for today’s episode because I’m talking with someone I have been eager to connect with since NRPA’s partnership with Merrell began. If you visit today’s guest’s website, the words “Nothing But Good Vibes” might be the first thing you notice. And, if you’re following him on social media, you are sure to pick up on some of those good vibes, as well.
Will “Akuna” Robinson is one of Merrell’s ambassadors, and his outdoor recreation journey began in 2016 when he attempted to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail to help with PTSD from his previous military service.
Akuna says that he fell hard for hiking, nature and the community that surrounds the trails. His journey has evolved into sharing the healing power of nature with veterans, people of color, and everyone who does not fit the stereotype of being “outdoorsy.”
Tune in to our full conversation below to learn more about Akuna’s journey to healing and community-building through hiking. We also discuss some of the findings from Merrell’s Inclusivity in the Outdoors Report and how they relate to his own experience of spending time outside. You’ll also learn:
- How Akuna’s journey of sharing the healing power of nature began
- The message he tries to leave behind wherever he goes
- Perceptions of inclusion and safety in the outdoors within the Black community
- How we can continue to break down barriers so that everyone can experience the power of outside
- How Akuna hopes to inspire other Black people who are considering outdoor recreation
- Akuna’s favorite ways to get outside, and so much more!
More episodes from "Open Space Radio: Parks and Recreation Trends"
A Doomscroll Break: Parks and Recreation on Social Media — Episode 135
31:01If you’ve been following NRPA on social media, you may already be familiar with my guest today via some very fun, informational, and engaging Instagram reels that have been gracing your feeds for the last few months. Today I am so excited to be joined by my colleague and the amazing person behind all of NRPA’s social media content, Christina High. Christina joined the team as our marketing coordinator in 2022, and she has been doing some really amazing work ever since when it comes to rethinking our social strategy, what kind of social content we’re producing, and continuing to build an engaged social media community. Recognizing the power that social media has nowadays, and how there are many ways park and recreation agencies and professionals can be using social media to their advantage, I’m really excited for our listeners to get some of Christina’s insight today. Tune in to our full conversation below to learn more about Christina and how she’s using social media to highlight the power of parks and recreation. You’ll also learn: How parks and recreation can be a positive corner of the internet/social media Why social media is such a valuable tool for park and recreation agencies to use in their awareness, education and marketing efforts Things to consider when creating a social media plan or strategy What kinds of trends are performing best on the various social media platforms Tips for ensuring your social media posts are inclusive and accessible How to build an engaged community on social media, and much more! Additional Resources: Follow NRPA on Instagram Follow NRPA on Facebook Follow NRPA on LinkedIn Follow NRPA on Twitter Follow NRPA on (our BRAND NEW) TikTok
How to Build a Culture of Safety — May Bonus Episode
47:55The May issue of Parks & Recreation magazine is out now, and on today’s bonus episode of Open Space Radio, we’re diving deeper into the feature article, “Building a Culture of Safety for Aquatic Facilities,” by Stephanie Shook, CPRP, the senior product manager of aquatics and instructors for the American Red Cross. I’m so thrilled to be joined on the show by two individuals who were highlighted in the article: · Dr. William Ramos, a member of the Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council and associate professor at Indiana University School of Public Health · Nichole Bohner, the aquatics division manager for City of Round Rock, Texas, Parks and Recreation. They each share their experience when it comes to building a culture of safety — something that is of the utmost importance at aquatic facilities and the wide range of other park and recreation offerings. Tune in to our full conversation below to learn how you can create a culture of safety in your community. You’ll also learn: What a “culture of safety” really means Why leadership being present is critical to a culture of safety The importance of communication and employee engagement Challenges to building a culture of safety Intentional steps to building a culture of safety, and much more! Additional Resources: American Red Cross Training Services Round Rock Parks and Recreation: Lifeguards
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Celebrating Earth Month with Merrell and Marion, Iowa — Episode 134
36:48All month long, NRPA has been sharing ways that parks and recreation is a climate hero in celebration of Earth Month. Whether it’s increasing biodiversity, managing millions of acres of open space, providing nature-based programming or responding to weather-related disasters, park and recreation professionals are on the front lines of creating a more sustainable future in communities across the country. I’m so thrilled today to be joined by Regina Hill, the CSR marketing manager for Merrell, who NRPA is proud to partner with on our Earth Month campaign, among many other things, as well as Mike Cimprich, the city arborist for the Marion Parks and Recreation Department in Iowa. Mike was honored with Merrell’s Changing Nature of Work Award for his critical work in the city of Marion after the 2020 Central Severe Weather-Derecho, known as the “costliest thunderstorm event in U.S. history” – causing widespread power outages, damage to homes, businesses, powerlines and trees. In fact, 40 percent of the city’s public trees were lost in this storm Tune in to the full episode below to learn more about Mike and his team’s efforts, how Merrell is honoring and supporting these efforts, and the important work that happens as a result of partnerships. You’ll also learn: What Earth Month means to both City of Marion and Merrell How Mike and his team stepped up to help their community during an uncertain time Why Merrell is excited about supporting Mike, as well as other park and recreation professionals across the country What the future of environmental resilience looks like in Marion, Iowa How we all play a role in sustainability efforts, whether through planting trees or marketing efforts (or whatever your specialty is!) What continues to drive Mike and Regina to do this important work, and much more! This episode is sponsored by Merrell’s "Good things come to those who hike" campaign. The real magic of hiking is about the moments that happen along the way. Each hike, another discovery. Another moment that we can share, remember and relive as we move through our lives. Those are the good things that come to those who hike. Visit www.Merrell.com and start discovering your #goodthings when hiking.
Reflecting on Earth Month: A Look Back at Sustainability and Climate-Focused Episodes — Episode 133
29:33April is Earth Month, and all month long, NRPA is celebrating the ways that parks and recreation is a climate hero. I encourage you to check out some of the top ways that park and recreation professionals are creating healthier, more sustainable communities and tackling the world’s toughest climate issues. On today’s episode, we take a look back at a few episodes from the past year, in which my guests talked about climate solutions, sustainability, and all things protecting and preserving nature and the spaces that do so much for us. Tune in to the full episode below to hear clips from these previous episodes (and I encourage you to listen to each full episode, as well): On one of our most recent episodes, episode 131, I spoke with Norma Edith García-Gonzalez, director of Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation, to discuss how she's leading with equity, as well as L.A. County's recently adopted 30x30 plan to address climate change and conserve 30 percent of lands and coastal waters by 2030 On episode 124, I was joined by staff from City of Detroit Parks and Recreation: Jac Kyle, a manager I for nature programming, and Rachel Felder, a naturalist, to learn more how partnerships are helping advance their work, fight environmental injustices, and create a new generation of environmental stewards in Detroit. On episode 122, I was joined by Maneula Barón, a Colombian-American sustainability activist, artist and founder of The Girl Gone Green, an inclusive community that fosters social and environmental change and encourages people to live more consciously. We discussed where to start with your own environmental programming at your agency, as well as how to effectively communicate environmental issues through the lens of others. On episode 112, I was joined by Jad Daley, CEO of American Forests, to discuss how trees play a critical role in building environmental resilience, cooling our neighborhoods, and improving the health of our communities. We discuss why trees in urban areas are so important and the various roles that trees play when it comes to our health, in terms of reducing heat, filtering air pollution and more. And finally, we take it all the way back the 2022 April bonus episode, when I talked with my colleague, Ayanna Williams, NRPA’s director of community and environmental resilience, about all things Earth Day. We discussed ways park and recreation professionals are building more resilient communities, ways to ensure decision-makers prioritize environmental justice beyond Earth Month or Earth Day, and more. Related Links: NRPA Earth Month Five Ways Parks and Recreation Is a Climate Hero This episode is sponsored by Merrell’s "Good things come to those who hike" campaign. The real magic of hiking is about the moments that happen along the way. Each hike, another discovery. Another moment that we can share, remember and relive as we move through our lives. Those are the good things that come to those who hike. Visit www.Merrell.com and start discovering your #goodthings when hiking.
On a Cross-Country Mission to Advocate for Trans Rights — Episode 132
54:40Attacks targeting LGBTQ+ rights, and especially the rights of transgender youth, are currently taking place in state legislatures across the country. With bans on gender-affirming care for trans youth and the country’s first drag ban, numbers of anti-trans bills were recently introduced, with an alarming number of bills advancing in states across the country. Many of these bills also are aimed at preventing transgender youth from participating in sports in ways that align with the gender with which they identify. These recent attacks on the trans community is an attack on human rights, and an attack on our mission to build inclusive, equitable communities where everyone can feel safe, feel like they belong, and ultimately, thrive. Today, I’m thrilled to welcome someone who is taking their advocacy for trans rights across the country. Cal Dobbs is a queer transgender ultra marathoner and long-distance hiker who is running across America — from California to Florida — to fight for inclusion of transgender people in sports and access to gender-affirming healthcare. What was once a childhood dream to run across the country is now a reality for Cal, but for something way bigger than they had ever imagined. Cal also is the first known trans person to achieve the triple crown of hiking – that is, they thru-hiked the entire Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail – so they are no stranger to extended adventures. Tune in to our full conversation below to learn more about Cal’s story, how you can follow their run, and how park and recreation professionals can support this important mission. You’ll also learn: · How Cal’s relationship with physical activity and outdoor recreation began · What inspired Cal’s dream to run across the country · How Cal plans to make transformative connections with people across geographic, political and ideological lines in order to make lasting change · What kind of impact anti-trans legislation has on the trans community, as well as society as a whole · How park and recreation professionals can ensure they are building safe, inclusive communities where no one is excluded or required to face additional rules or scrutiny to full participate, regardless of gender. · The importance of community care, and so much more! Related Links: Cal’s Website Follow Cal on Instagram Subscribe to Cal's YouTube Page Become a Member of Cal’s Patreon Support Cal’s Run and Documentary Contribute to Equality Arizona Fundraiser Outside Magazine: Cal “Starburst“ Dobbs Becomes the First Reported Publicly Trans Triple Crowner
Continuing a Legacy of Service to Create a Better World — Episode 131
39:18Los Angeles County is doing some big things and the department of parks and recreation is continuing to make an impact when it comes to equity, environmental resilience and the health and well-being of its community members. I’m thrilled to be joined today by Norma Edith García-Gonzalez, who has worked for Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation for more than a decade and was appointed as director of the department in 2020 — becoming the first woman and first person of color to lead the department. What’s more, Norma now leads the same department that made such an impact on her in her youth. Norma has been a true community leader in advancing the department’s mission, which I’m excited to talk about today. We’re also going to discuss LA’s 2022 Parks Needs Assessment Plus (PNA+) Final Report, which was recently adopted as the county’s 30x30 plan — which is the goal of conserving 30 percent of lands and coastal waters by 2030 to address climate change. Tune in to our full conversation below to learn more about Norma and the good work that’s happening in Los Angeles County. You’ll also learn: How Norma’s career in parks and recreation began The historical barriers when it comes to serving the most vulnerable populations in Los Angeles County How Norma and her staff are intentionally centering their work in equity and anti-racism How the 2022 PNA+ Final Report was adopted as L.A. County’s 30x30 plan to address climate change Some of the opportunities and challenges when it comes to achieving the 30x30 goal of conserving 30% of lands and coastal waters by 2030 Why this work means so much to Norma, and so much more! Related Links: Los Angeles County Parks Needs Assessment Plus (PNA+) Final Report Open Space blog post: Conservation Reimagined: Los Angeles County’s 30x30 Plan Parks & Recreation magazine: Los Angeles County’s Parks Needs Assessment Plus
How Lifeguarding Provided a Foundation for a First Responder — March Bonus Episode
35:00The March issue of Parks & Recreation magazine is out now, and on today’s bonus episode of Open Space Radio, we’re diving deeper into one of this month’s articles, “From Lifeguard to First Responder.” I’m joined today by the author, Craig Pattenaude, the marketing and communication specialist for Cosumnes Community Services District (CSD) Parks and Recreation, as well as Cole Munsey, who Craig highlights in his article. I’m thrilled to welcome them both to the show to learn about Cole’s journey and how a job as a lifeguard propelled him into a career as a first responder, as he recently graduated from the Cosumnes CSD Fire Department intern program. Tune in to the full conversation below to learn more about Cole’s journey and why serving as a lifeguard was so beneficial in preparing him for his future career. You’ll also learn: How a traumatic family experience motivated Cole to become a “helper” How serving as a lifeguarding reinforced Cole’s desire to help others and inspired him to pursue a career as a firefighter What skills Cole learned as a lifeguard that he continues to use today What inspired Craig to connect with Cole to help share his story How Cosumnes CSD is working with staff to help develop their skills for either an extended career in parks and recreation or other areas of the community How Cole and Craig have been impacted personally by this work, and much more! Related: · Instagram video highlighting Cole's story (produced by Craig!) · Cosumnes CSD website
Advancing Physical Activity and Health Equity Through Active Parks! — Episode 130
32:29Parks and recreation is vital to community health and well-being. Local park and recreation agencies connect every member of the community to essential programs, services and spaces that enhance quality of life. And, local parks and recreation provides so many opportunities for experiencing the benefits of physical activity. According to the guidance from the Community Services Preventive Task Force, park and recreation and public health professionals play a role in ensuring all community members have equitable opportunities to get active. The Active Parks! Increasing Physical Activity Through Parks, Trails, and Greenways recommendation states that combining 1) essential infrastructure improvements with 2) additional activities — like structured programming, community engagement, access enhancements and more — can increase the use of parks, trails and greenways for physical activity. To support park and recreation and public health professionals in advancing this recommendation, NRPA developed the Active Parks! Implementation Guide. The guide includes a step-by-step process professionals can follow to equitably increase physical activity, plus case studies, sample actions and more. The guide also supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Active People, Healthy NationSM initiative, which aims to help 27 million people become more physically active by 2027. We are so excited to have worked with CDC on this new resource, and I was thrilled to learn more on today’s episode in my conversation with Ken Rose, who leads CDC’s Physical Activity and Health branch and oversees national efforts to increase physical activity. Tune in to our conversation below to learn: Why partnerships between public health and parks and recreation is critical to increasing physical activity and advancing health equity in communities The origins of the Active Parks! Implementation Guide and what inspired this movement Key considerations for park and recreation professionals interested in using the guide Why Ken believes the guide will transform physical activity in communities How park and recreation professionals can join the Active People, Healthy NationSM movement, and much more! Related links: Active Parks! Implementation Guide: Increasing Physical Activity Through Parks, Trails and Greenways Active People, Healthy NationSM Blog Post: Activating Parks, Trails and Greenways for Physical Activity Active Parks! Increasing Physical Activity Through Parks, Trails, and Greenways recommendation
On a Journey to Spread Good Vibes and the Healing Power of Nature — Episode 129
28:00I am so excited for today’s episode because I’m talking with someone I have been eager to connect with since NRPA’s partnership with Merrell began. If you visit today’s guest’s website, the words “Nothing But Good Vibes” might be the first thing you notice. And, if you’re following him on social media, you are sure to pick up on some of those good vibes, as well. Will “Akuna” Robinson is one of Merrell’s ambassadors, and his outdoor recreation journey began in 2016 when he attempted to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail to help with PTSD from his previous military service. Akuna says that he fell hard for hiking, nature and the community that surrounds the trails. His journey has evolved into sharing the healing power of nature with veterans, people of color, and everyone who does not fit the stereotype of being “outdoorsy.” Tune in to our full conversation below to learn more about Akuna’s journey to healing and community-building through hiking. We also discuss some of the findings from Merrell’s Inclusivity in the Outdoors Report and how they relate to his own experience of spending time outside. You’ll also learn: How Akuna’s journey of sharing the healing power of nature began The message he tries to leave behind wherever he goes Perceptions of inclusion and safety in the outdoors within the Black community How we can continue to break down barriers so that everyone can experience the power of outside How Akuna hopes to inspire other Black people who are considering outdoor recreation Akuna’s favorite ways to get outside, and so much more! Related Links Merrell Inclusivity in the Outdoors Report Akunahikes.com Follow Akuna on Instagram Follow Akuna on Facebook
CAPRA Volunteers: Together We Grow Parks and Recreation — Episode 128
37:13NRPA's Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA), is the only national accreditation of park and recreation agencies and is a valuable measure of an agency’s overall quality of operation, management and service to the community. Achieving CAPRA accreditation is the best way to demonstrate that your agency and your staff provide your community with the highest level of service. But, there is one thing that this program cannot do without – it’s dedicated volunteers. CAPRA volunteers have the opportunity to review, visit and mentor agencies and solidify personal recognition of the defined standards of excellence that accredited park and recreation agencies are held accountable to. CAPRA volunteers also become part of a broader network of professionals who understand the benefits of accreditation for park and recreation agencies and are trained to bring back these standards to their own agencies. As we look ahead to NRPA’s CAPRA volunteer acquisition campaign coming up in March, I’m excited to welcome two individuals to the show today to discuss their experience being a CAPRA volunteer. Joining me is Rod Tarullo, the director of parks, recreation and golf for City of Golden, Colorado, and Christi Giles-Reed, the community program coordinator for City of Dallas, Texas. Tune in to the full episode below to learn why adding “CAPRA volunteer” to your resume may be your next move, as well as how serving as a volunteer can strengthen your skills and experience as a park and recreation professional. You’ll also learn: How being CAPRA volunteers has impacted Rod and Christi professionally and personally How serving as a volunteer will benefit your own agency and agencies across the county Tips on how to become a CAPRA volunteer The benefits of accreditation for park and recreation agencies Rod and Christi’s favorite stories from their time serving as CAPRA volunteers, and much more! Related Links: Apply to Become a CAPRA Volunteer Blog Post: Is Being a CAPRA Review Team Member Right for Me? Blog Post: What Does It Mean To Be a CAPRA Volunteer? Parks & Recreation magazine: CAPRA Volunteering: Preparing the Next Generation of Accreditation Leaders Learn more about CAPRA CAPRA FAQs