Editor's Desk - September 2015
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Enthusiasm Can Be Catching

I visited Nashville in late July for a conference, and while there I took advantage of a little extra time on the clock to go out and ramble around in the hot, humid city. My goal? To work up a good sweat, and maybe even find a little bit of nature in the midst of the urban landscape. Happily, as part of that ramble I was tempted across the pedestrian bridge over the Cumberland River. After oohing and aahing over the stunning views overlooking the city, the hills and the river from the bridge, I wandered into the recently developed Cumberland Park.

Tucked into a handful of acres alongside the Cumberland and between two bridges (one for pedestrians and one for cars), this little park was exactly the oasis I needed at the moment. A hillside landscaped with butterfly-attracting flowers drew me in, and then the catwalk out over the river drew me further along. I ran up the terraced stairs up a hillside that sloped down toward an amphitheater, then looped around one more time, reading signs about the water-saving features and historic significances of the park site.

The discovery was doubly significant. Not only did I need that dose of nature, but on top of that, I'd just realized I was going to have to take on a feature story for this issue of the magazine, and I was in need of a good starting point. The story was to deal in some way with trails, and when I realized that Cumberland Park is connected to Nashville's greenway system, I thought my wanderings couldn't be more serendipitous.

You'll find the story about urban greenways and the bounty of nature to be found in the smartest urban settings on page 32, but before you flip the page, I want to tell you a little more about the big impression this little park made.

Nashville's Cumberland Park, in concert with the city's entire riverfront redevelopment, embodies so many of the missions that we embrace and champion here. It brings a community together in a different way. It took abused, abandoned and overlooked land and turned it into a jewel for the city. It encompasses a great number of green elements. It aims to educate the public about their natural and cultural resources. It provides a place to engage in active and passive recreation. To make a long story short, it's a brilliant success. What's more, the story's still not over.

While I'm gushing over the impression this park made, I'd also like to take a second to tell you how motivating it was to talk with Mr. Tommy Lynch, Nashville's park director, and his colleague Chris Koster, special projects manager. When I tell you that their enthusiasm is contagious, I'm not lying. Talking with these folks about their outstanding work along the Cumberland left me feeling excited and hopeful—not just for Nashville, but for urban centers across the county.

Knowing that there are champions out there who understand the value of green space, the value of a natural connection in an urban setting, the value of community interconnectedness makes me think that our great cities—which already have so much going for them—are only going to get better and better over the next decades. What's more, these kinds of projects aren't limited to urban areas. Smaller towns, too, can get on board and make parkland a priority in their planning processes.

Challenges and obstacles will always arise—whether it's simple economics or the complex interplay of stakeholders. But it's inspiring to see city after city, community after community come together to make projects like this happen.


Emily Tipping
Editorial Director,
Recreation Management