Parks and green spaces—playgrounds, pocket parks, outdoor recreation facilities, open spaces, trails, gardens, and green infrastructure—are crucial for community health and wellbeing, a fact made clear during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Parks protect health and promote mental wellbeing by providing people of all ages and abilities opportunities for physical activity, time in nature, social connection, and respite.
These vital resources also have climate benefits: they cool temperatures, cleanse air, filter stormwater, and replenish groundwater.
Even though there is broad consensus on the value of parks and green infrastructure, evidence shows that there are persistent inequities in access, availability, quality of facilities, and programming by race, place, and income.
African Americans, Latinos, and people who live in low-income, urban neighborhoods have less access to parks and green spaces than people who live in more affluent or predominantly white communities.
These inequities are the product of policies and practices like residential segregation, redlining, racially biased planning decisions, and exclusionary zoning, as well as problematic narratives and ways of working in the green space field that have often excluded or tokenized communities of color.
Park equity is the fair and just distribution of parks and green spaces, such that all communities have access to these health-promoting resources.
Park equity requires closing gaps in access to parks and green spaces that disproportionately affect low-income communities and communities of color.
Park equity entails multiple strategies to ensure procedural, distributional, and structural equity.
Learn more about park equity in PI’s new paper, Changing the Landscape: People, Parks, and Power, and webinar.
Photo credits: Prevention Institute/Drawing Change, Kounkuey Design Initiative, Social Justice Learning Institute