Editor's Desk - May 2009
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You Are the Silver Lining

“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew.”

—Abraham Lincoln


t's amazing to me how many times when I hear someone talking about this problem or that challenge, that my mental response is, 'Hey, our readers can help with that!'

Whether it's the many-faceted challenges of the recession, the health care crisis or the drive to energy efficiency, parks, recreation, sports and fitness facilities are in a position to be of assistance.

Don't believe me?

Let's take a look at the economy. The news has been bad for a long time, though there have lately been signs of slight improvement. But how do our readers help? Well, on a large scale, investment in improvements brings jobs to the community, and while budgets have been cut across the country, many are still finding ways to make infrastructure improvements, and, in fact, new facilities are still rising across the American landscape.

Just to take a very big example, on Earth Day, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced an investment of $750 million in the national park system, part of more than $3 billion the Interior Department is investing under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Across the country, local economies will benefit from more than 750 projects that will create jobs while preserving our heritage and natural spaces for future generations to enjoy.

The National Park Service has had a backlog of critical construction projects for some time. The service worked through a merit-based process to identify investments that met the criteria put forward in the Recovery Act: that a project addresses the Department's highest priority mission needs; generates the largest number of jobs in the shortest period of time, and creates lasting value for the American public.

But this isn't all. From a different perspective, park districts, YMCAs and other entities can also help. How? Many of these facilities offer education on financial literacy, which is just what many Americans need to help them step back and assess their spending habits and learn to budget. And for those who are out of work, many recreation and community centers offer computer labs where they can search for jobs and send out resumes.

OK, how about health care—another major problem President Obama's administration is looking to tackle? While most of our readers don't provide health care directly, many are uniquely poised to help. How? Consider this: According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seven of every 10 Americans who die each year—more than 1.7 million people—die of a chronic disease. These diseases, cardiovascular diseases like heart disease and stroke, cancer and diabetes, are among the most prevalent, costly and preventable of all health problems. That last factor, preventability, is where you help.

Parks, recreation, sports and fitness facilities are the necessary link to prevention for many people. You help people get active, you provide places for passive and active recreation—and we all know that exercise and access to the outdoors are one key to preventing chronic illness. And many of you don't stop there. You also may offer nutrition counseling, guidance to help patrons lose weight, and even rehabilitation for those patients who have suffered from a chronic illness.

Your commitment to your patrons' health has also placed many of you at the forefront of addressing another of our nation's major problems—energy conservation. While the green trend has recently gained a stronger foothold in the mainstream, parks and recreation facilities have long been on the cutting edge. Just turn to our Innovative Architecture & Design Awards section in this issue, and you'll discover how many facilities have been designed with a commitment to sustainability. Two of our 10 winners were built on former landfill sites. Many are either LEED certified or are aiming to earn that distinction. Green roofs, solar power, rainwater harvesting, water-conserving restrooms—you've long been committed to ensuring your patrons' health—and the planet's health—through a commitment to reducing your impact on the environment, while building your impact in your communities.

Many of these award-winning facilities also demonstrate a commitment to the health and wellness of their communities, and their investment has paid off for both their patrons and the companies that helped to build these cutting-edge parks, recreation centers and fitness facilities.

I encourage you to turn to the awards section on page 20 and read about the projects we've recognized for their innovative approaches to these and other problems. Then, tell us how you're helping—tell us how you are ensuring your facility is part of the solution.


Emily Tipping
Editorial Director


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