ParkWorks is a Cleveland-based non-profit dedicated to improving quality of life through parks and greenspace. Their annual conference, the Cleveland Parks Institute, has been a source of information and inspiration for local parks staff and advocates.

Cleveland, Ohio – ParkWorks hosted its fourth annual Cleveland Parks Institute on Friday, March 22, 2002 at the Louis Stokes Wing Auditorium of the Cleveland Public Library. Entitled, “A New Day for Parks,” the full-day event featured educational speakers and seminars designed primarily for city of Cleveland Parks & Recreation staff as well as neighborhood development practitioners and general parks advocates.

The day’s events included a panel of prestigious local and world-renowned speakers on urban greening projects, including Enrique Peñalosa, former mayor of Bogotá, Columbia and visiting scholar at New York University, who discussed the many greening improvements his administration made, such as the construction of over 1,000 parks in less than three years and the introduction of “car-free days” to his city of 6.5 million. Also highlighted in the day’s events was Jim Diers, founding Director of the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, who spoke about the importance which new park development and existing park renovations are playing in Seattle’s successful and much-lauded neighborhood development plans.

Mayor Jane L. Campbell opened the day, underscoring the contribution that vibrant parks and green spaces can make to the city and region. “People who can choose where to live opt for cities that are attractive,” stated Mayor Campbell. “Parks are a vital component of what makes a city livable. They provide a means of connecting people, bringing a sense of energy and community to neighborhoods downtown and throughout the city. ”

The Cleveland Parks Institute is modeled after the Wallace-Reader’s Digest Funds’ Urban Park Institute, a national multi-day conference addressing similar issues. Other topics of this year’s Cleveland event included: the role of parks in neighborhood development; parks as forums for the arts; parks and recreation programs as a means to engage all segments of the population; an overview of regional park activities and planning efforts; and future plans for the city and region. The day also provided those engaged locally in parks activities an opportunity to participate in active dialogue about current projects and some of the critical issues facing the city given the current budget challenges.

“The Cleveland Parks Institute affords Clevelanders the opportunity to hear first-hand from world-class speakers who will detail their own truly inspirational work,” stated Ann M. Zoller, ParkWorks’ executive director. “This is a wonderful means to motivate Clevelanders to consider how best to capitalize on the many opportunities we have to use parks as a critical building block for the region.”

The Cleveland Parks Institute concluded with a reception at the Hyatt Regency Cleveland at the Arcade, where ParkWorks unveiled its recently published book, “A Walk in the Park”. The book, published by Ohio University Press and written by local award-winning author Diana Tittle, tells the story of fourteen unique parks in the northeast Ohio region. Noted photographer Janet Century has captured beautiful and compelling images for each of the parks.

The Cleveland Parks Institute is made possible with generous support from the George Gund Foundation, Neighborhood Progress Inc. and the Cleveland Public Library.