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Editor's Desk - November 2009

Take the Good With the Bad


"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow."
—Melody Beattie, author

"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings."
—Eric Hoffer, social writer and philosopher

As 2009 begins to wind down and we turn our sights to 2010, it's a good time to look backward at where this year has taken us, before we figure out how to deal with the one before us.

For most of you, 2009 has probably been pretty tough. I've heard plenty of great stories from people who are thriving despite the recession, but they seem to be the exception rather than the rule, as many readers report they are struggling with budget cuts or outright elimination, while they aim to serve larger numbers of people who are looking for low-cost recreation, sports and fitness closer to home.

As you look back on a year that is now drawing to its close, you might be thinking about programs that have been cancelled, people who have been let go, projects and plans that had to be put on hold for now.

And as you consider what's coming in 2010, you are likely still worried. Most accounts suggest that 2010 is not going to get easier for the government-run facilities, for parks and recreation departments, schools and school districts and others reliant on government and taxpayer funding.

According to the National League of Cities (NLC) annual report on fiscal conditions, cities are still in the early stages of registering the effects of the economic downturn, and the ability of cities to meet their financial needs was expected to worsen in 2010. This reflects the fact that city tax revenue is only collected at specific points during the year, or over the course of several years, in the case of property taxes. This causes a time lag of 18 months to several years before economic shifts impact city fiscal conditions.

"Cities face the burden of confronting the effects of the downturn for years after any recession ends," said report co-author Michael A. Pagano, professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. "This means that cities will be navigating the implications of the downturn for a while longer, even if the business climate turns around immediately."

As a result of the budget shortfalls, cities are taking a number of steps. Sixty-seven percent instituted hiring freezes or layoffs. Sixty-two percent cancelled capital infrastructure projects. Thirty-two percent cut services other than public safety. Many are also decreasing their spending on non-personnel operating expenses.

"Although we are beginning to see signs of a possible recovery in the national economy, city officials will need to be more proactive than ever in terms of monitoring their budgets, reevaluating budget priorities and identifying new revenue and savings opportunities," said NLC President Kathleen Novak, mayor of Northglenn, Colo.

Many of you are likely anticipating the effects of these actions, and it's more critical now than ever to take steps to position yourself as a needed service in your community. Look to the National Park and Recreation Association (NRPA) for assistance with this project. The association plans to create several reports that will help you make your case. See our news section on the next page for some examples of parks and recreation districts that are successful and to learn more about the NRPA's initiatives in this area.

And yes, regardless of the steps you take, if the money isn't there, you'll be forced to cut programs and services.

But before you sink into doom and gloom about the past and the future, take a moment right now to think about the things that have gone right. Nothing is ever completely negative. You can always find a little light, a little something to hold onto and be grateful for.

Try this out: Write down three things over the past year that have worked. Now think about how you can build on those for next year. You can almost always find something that's good. Something that's right. Something that doesn't leave you stressed and worried, but instead makes you feel good about what you do.

As the national day of eating too much turkey and falling asleep in front of the television—also known as "Thanksgiving"—approaches, take a moment to not worry about the past and not get stressed about the future. Take a day to really be thankful for what you still have, for the good things you've done, and for all the positive movements and actions you can take in the coming year.

With gratitude,

Emily Tipping
Editorial Director
emily@recmanagement.com



Letter to the Editor

Thanks for publishing Judy Geer's article on rowing in the September 2009 edition. So true, and so few know about the Concept 2 indoor rower and what a great tool it is. I hope more learn from her great scenario she used with the Chatham, Mass., club and Carol Penfield's little study.

Also to boot—you had an advertisement on the back cover that used rowing imagery to illustrate their point about their product.

From my note, you can imagine that I am a rower both on and off the water, and it keeps me Telemark skiing with the best of the 30-year-old crowd, even though I am 60, too.

Thanks for publishing Judy's article to give your readers new stimulus to venture into some new territory for programs and equipment.

Mark Miller, Senior National Sales Manager
La Posada de Santa Fe Resort & Spa, A RockResort, Santa Fe, N.M.



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