Ah parks. Trees. Swings. Sports fields. A stronger link for community connectedness than age, gender and income combined. Flowers. Pools.
Wait. Back-up there a minute.
I know that many people think of our parks as lovely green spaces. Pretty to look at, nice to enjoy. But how many understand the full impact of a park on a community? I love it when I have data to back-up my work.
A study recently published in BioScience shows that, even accounting for other factors that we'd think woudl skew the data, parks are key to the strength of a community. We're not talking economic strength here (that's a topic for another post), but the strength of the bonds that hold us together. Those same bonds that led neighbors to help other neighbors remove trees last November, that led us to invite our literally powerless neighbors over for warm meals and hot showers - what the authors call community cohesion. But let me have them speak for themselves...
"Controlling for other factors such as socioeconomic deprivation, population density, and unemployment, exposure to nature accounted for a full 8 percent of variance in community cohesion — meaning that people felt closer to their communities. To put that in perspective, individual factors such as age, income, and gender together accounted for only 3 percent of the variation."
Questions asked included how easy is it for you to get to nature? How much time do you spend there? Can you see nature from your home? (Now for most city dwellers nature isn't going to be wilderness...its going to be a park.)
I could restate everything that the author of the article or the authors of the study wrote...or I could point you to them and let them tell you themselves. Enjoy. And then go enjoy your nearest park. Its good for you and for the rest of us.