Our Commitments:
Community

Community is at the heart of everything we do.

The relationships we have with our neighbors and places we love form the bedrock of thriving, empowered communities.

Yet trust between neighbors in the U.S. is 50 percent lower today than it was fifty years ago. As our social fabric frays—strained by political divides, social distancing measures, racial and economic segregation, and much more—it becomes harder for local communities to mobilize and address health, climate, and equity challenges.

Trails, schoolyards, parks, and lands—these are some of the public commons essential to connecting communities and rebuilding relationships across lines that divide us. And how we create these shared spaces is just as powerful as simply having a park nearby. Our decades of working with communities and local leaders from a diverse cross section of the country has taught us that it’s the process of designing, programming, and stewarding public spaces that really catalyzes the building of community.

 

What is the process?

For starters, something profound happens when neighbors hear (and can believe) organizations that say, “We care about what you want for the community,” and “Here are the tools to make it happen.”

At Trust for Public Land, we are investing in resources that make it easier for land stewards everywhere—urban and rural, red to blue, U.S. born or immigrant—to unlock their communities’ potential through the creation and activation of parks, trails, schoolyards, and land.

As our President and CEO Diane Regas puts it, “Community leaders will go far beyond what anyone can dream up around a conference table or in a hall of government. That’s why our commitment to community at TPL is the heart of everything that we do.”

SUPPORT OUR WORK

Teresa Bendito of Wenatchee's Parque Padrinos holds a microphone and speaks to a crowd

Community green spaces can build relationships, foster pride, and ultimately catalyze a more equitable shift in power.

From a transformed public park in small-town Washington to revitalized alleys in Los Angeles, our work across projects and places drives toward three main outcomes: community relationships, identity, and power.

Relationships

Participation builds bonds. Our decades of working with communities to build outdoor spaces have shown us that when individuals organize around a shared goal—such as shepherding a green space from concept to creation—mutual understanding, empathy, and respect can grow. With these attributes, a community’s ability to respond to the challenges of climate change, public health, and social injustice can improve, as well.

Identity

Inclusive, safe public spaces are where cultures can connect, and individuals can start to care more about their community and take pride in it. This type of connection and sense of identity is vital for an ever-diversifying and -digitizing country. What’s more, a 2010 survey of American residents revealed that the strongest contributing factors to one’s sense of community were not the usual suspects of jobs, economy, or education, but green space and public space.

Power

Public spaces and their collaborative creation can show communities what’s possible when they work together. Because our community process is inclusive and respectful, every project we support leans on the expertise of residents, leaders, and partners—honoring their wealth of knowledge. This approach encourages sharing and ultimately demonstrates the collective potential that exists in every American community.

How we put community first

The Health, Arts, Parks, and Equity (HAP-E) toolkit

Created with health advocates in mind, this collection of case studies, principles, and policy guidelines provides guidance on how to use place-based arts and culture to achieve health equity.

ACCESS THE TOOLKIT

The Toolkit for Health, Arts, Parks, and Equity (HAP-E)

Common goals power park advocates’ community-changing work

In rural Washington and bustling Los Angeles, park advocates are tapping into the power of a common goal.

LEARN HOW COMMUNITIES POWER CHANGE

A woman in a pink shirt stands outside while holding a bowl of cherries

Ten ways parks can foster more welcoming communities

It's up to all of us to welcome new arrivals in our communities. Here are some ideas about how our friends and neighbors are using parks to build stronger bonds with neighbors.

EXPLORE WAYS TO BUILD NEIGHBORHOOD BONDS

People gather around a wheelbarrow full of planting material during a tree-planting event at Midway Peace Park in St. Paul, MN.

Get in touch

Contact Geneva Vest to learn more about our community-centered approach.