How do you love your park? Do you jog its perimeter? Run your dog? Swing your kids? Sunbathe on the lawn? Whatever your relationship to your neighborhood park, this weekend is your chance to show it some love.
On Saturday morning, 2,000 devoted volunteers across the city will head out to their favorite local patch of green to pick up trash, paint faded fixtures, mulch trees and more to make ready their park for the 5th annual LOVE Your Park Week (LYPW).
Fairmount Park Conservancy (FPC) and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation’s eight-day hoopla encourages folks to celebrate the city’s local parks through a series of events taking place across the city. The reason is simple: The more people are involved, the better our parks are, says FPC Stewardship Coordinator Lindsey Walker. “When communities and neighbors are engaged, the parks tend to be in better shape,” because active citizens, for instance, organize cleanup days, host park events and even advocate for better maintenance by reaching out to City Council.
Through the stewardship program, Walker works to encourage the formation of and oversee Park Friends Groups made up of volunteers who work to keep their parks looking spiffy throughout the year. LOVE Your Park Week, she says, has made her job a little easier. “We started LOVE Your Park Week with 80 friends groups,” she says. “Now we have 115.”
There are lots of reasons to Love Your Park besides the obvious break from all that concrete. Adding greenery to a dull, vacant lot in a neighborhood has been shown to reduce crime rates. A Penn study of low-income areas in Philadelphia showed that planting trees in a neighborhood boosted nearby home sales by two percent. And then there’s the effect on our well-being. BioMed Central Public Health data shows that walking or running in green spaces has a positive effect on anxiety, anger, fatigue and sadness.
Whatever your reason for loving your park, there are tons of ways you can get involved this week. Here are some LYPW highlights if you …