Conversations with Olmsted: Parks, Equity, and Public Health

On September 21, 2021, hundreds of viewers tuned into Conversations with Olmsted: Parks, Equity and Public Health. Hosted by Olmsted 200 and our founding partners APHA, the third installment in the series explored the role parks, and nature can play in achieving health equity and what can be done to equalize resources and ensure safe and equitable access to parks and green space for all communities.

The panel discussion moderated by Mitchell Silver, former parks commissioner for New York City Parks, featured three distinguished experts. During the hour-long discussion, this panel examined how parks serve as critical health infrastructure and what barriers communities, especially communities of color, face when it comes to equal access to parks and green spaces. 


Featured speakers:

Richard Louv,  a journalist, author and 2008 Audubon Medal awardee. His newest book is Our Wild Calling: How Connecting with Animals Can Transform Our Lives — and Save Theirs. He is co-founder and Chair Emeritus of the nonprofit Children & Nature Network, supporting a new nature movement.

– Autumn Saxton Ross, the National Recreation and Park Association’s (NRPA) first Vice President of Education and Chief Equity Officer. She most recently served as the Mid-Atlantic Regional Director and Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Lead for NatureBridge, the largest residential environmental education partner of the National Park Service.

– Vaughn Perry,  the Director of Equity for the 11th Street Bridge Park, a project planned to be Washington, D.C.’s first elevated public park located on the piers of the old 11th Street Bridge. This will be a new venue for healthy recreation, environmental education, and the arts.

The program was also introduced by APHA executive director Dr. Georges Benjamin.


Additional Resources

– For more information about Richard Louv’s Books: “Last Child in the Woods,” “The Nature Principle,” “Vitamin N,” and “Our Wild Calling” check out his website 

– The Children & Nature Network: works to support people and organizations working worldwide to reconnect children with nature

– Check out the 11th Street Bridge Park Project

– A bridge turned park in SE DC can be a national example of how to reconnect communities


NRPA Research and Reports

– NRPA Engagement with Parks Report

– Parks and Recreation: Advancing Community Health and Wellbeing

– Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Parks and Recreation Report

– Story Map: Equity in Parks and Recreation A Historical Perspective

– NRPA Equity Action Plan  

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