This year’s ParkScore® index ranks park systems in the 100 most populous U.S. cities, and our 2024 ParkScore® report reveals compelling data about the connection between high-quality park systems and measures of social connectivity.

In our 2024 report, we examine the evidence that shows how parks foster social cohesion; then we recommend four key strategies communities and parks departments can deploy to create and encourage stronger social connections.

“The audacious, beautiful, and exciting promise at the heart of democracy is the idea that putting people into community with each other creates opportunities to learn the capacities, skills, and motivations needed to forge a common life together,” says Dr. Hahrie Han, a professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University who studies democracy and civic engagement. “So it’s ever more important that we have places like parks where people naturally encounter other people. It’s through those encounters that common interests can emerge that are grounded in, but also transcend, self-interest. I see things like parks as an integral part of our civic infrastructure. When we don’t have a multiplicity of those spaces, we know that people can revert back to more parochial tendencies that can create the kind of divisiveness we see in some parts of our society.”

Park agencies, policymakers, nonprofits, and individual advocates have important roles to play in driving more park funding and more park programming that can strengthen the fraying fabric of American society. Read about several communities that are already implementing some of the best strategies, and learn how you can help your town build a stronger park system.

Read the Full 2024 ParkScore® Report

 

 

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One-third of Americans, including 28 million children, lack safe, easy access to a park within a 10-minute walk of home. Urge your senators to allocate funding to create parks and enhance outdoor recreational opportunities by championing the Outdoors for All Act today!

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