Parks and green spaces are our common ground. In a time when the United States—and, indeed, much of the world—feels increasingly polarized across political, racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic lines, green space offers a much needed space for building bridges and relationships across lines of difference. Based on Trust for Public Land’s extensive experience creating parks and protecting land with a diverse range of communities, we offer an evidence-based community engagement model, along with more than 50 recommended strategies for planning, programming, and design activities that are proven to help communities thrive.
The paper demonstrates how the formation of social ties, the development of a sense of belonging, and engagement with civic action can set up neighbors to shape and achieve their health, climate resilience, and equity goals. The Common Ground Framework is a call to action for all park advocates, shedding light on community engagement strategies, policy recommendations, and research needs that can drive a kinder, more connected future.