Browning Day is proud to support the Indianapolis Parks Foundation at their 15th Annual IPL Mayor’s Lunch for Parks today! Our city’s investment in parks – both existing and new – is critically important because there is now, as parks advocates have long preached anecdotally, a quantifiable correlation between a community’s park system (in both size and quality), and its overall quality of life, sustainability, and economic capacity. Parks are critical infrastructure; just as much as quality roads, schools, and utilities. The old model of parks – one where the biggest decisions park directors cared to champion was whether to purchase a blue or green playground – IS DEAD. Parks today are immeasurably more complex, and are being asked by their leaders and constituents to do more than merely provide places for play and recreation, as critically important as those things are.
Today’s parks are also being asked to DIRECTLY and QUANTITATIVELY impact community health, social equity, sustainability, and economic development, to name only a few. Gone also are the days when systems “survived” (and I emphasize survived) as slaves to the general fund. When parks are viewed as “amenity” and not as “infrastructure,” they are one of the first budget line items to be cut. Today, parks systems across the U.S., ours included, are working collaboratively with the private sector to deliver public park projects, and in Indianapolis, The Parks Foundation is the primary conduit for this collaboration. Given this reality, a city, we must embrace a future where both the public sector and private sector rise up collectively and partner together to increase Indianapolis’ quality of life through the support and development of our most important economic, environmental, and social tool; our parks!
Ryan P. Cambridge, PLA ASLA APA, is a practicing registered landscape architect who serves as the Planning Practice Leader at Browning Day; a multi-disciplinary planning and design firm in Indianapolis (www.bdmd.com). Since 2008, Ryan has helped lead the development of more than 20 system planning efforts for municipal governments across the United States, representing nearly $750 million in future “public realm” investment. Ryan is a self-professed “parks geek” and seeks to further the awareness of, and investment in, the public realm though his leadership on the Board of Directors for the Indiana Parks and Recreation Association, the Advocacy Committee of the Indianapolis Parks Foundation (Ryan is also the event chair for the upcoming 2017 IPL Mayor’s Lunch for Parks), and the Programming Committee for the Indiana Chapter of the Urban Land Institute. Ryan is also privileged to be one of only a handful of professionals in Indiana currently serving on the Project for Public Spaces Placemaking Leadership Council (pps.org).