City residents and community park groups are eager to get involved in supporting their municipalities to make parks great. However, only 22% of city residents feel like they currently have a voice in influencing decision-making about their local park, down from 34% last year, raising questions about the effectiveness of online engagement methods cities have leaned on more heavily during the pandemic. There’s an emerging opportunity to improve collaboration by providing clear and meaningful avenues for engagement in park planning processes and volunteer-led programming, especially for groups who have historically experienced barriers to participation.
Volunteers involved in city-led volunteer programs are crucial to supporting stewardship and restoration efforts, community events in parks, and so much more. While many of these programs shuttered throughout the pandemic, we’re seeing many volunteers return en masse to activate their parks once more. This year, cities have an average of 4.4 volunteers per 1,000 residents—up from 2.7 last year and inching closer to the 11.6 volunteers per 1,000 we saw pre-pandemic.