Never Enough Funds

This is the final article of reflection in this series on “leadership” in park management. The first article reflected on “leadership” as a lifelong responsibility and not just a moment of time.

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The Leadership retort – “we can’t do this as we don’t have enough funds”

How often have you heard that reflection about why an organisation can’t make things happen, and even the simplest things. Can you ever imagine a Steve Jobs or a Richard Branson saying that?

In fact, Apple focuses on the product and what we need and the rest becomes history, as they say.

So why do organisations get stuck in that “mode”, can’t move forward because we aren’t funded to do this or that?

Do they convince themselves that what they are doing is already World’s best practice?

Do they convince themselves that all the funds have got to hit the ground?

Do they convince themselves that they are just not allowed to do anything – in Government this would be called policy paralysis?

Early in 2016 I spoke at a UK Park Leaders Roundtable hosted by Hort Week and Parks Alliance (UK) in London – effectively on this issue “Never Enough Funds”.  The topic they asked me to address was “Future funding of Parks – what can the UK learn from others?”

So Is there a silver bullet to “Never Enough Funds”?

Clearly for the last 10 to 15 years the park sector has endlessly pursued the funding conundrum without a sense of closure or clarity. Around the world all park organisations are caught in this nexus.

However, you don’t have to go far to find the evidence of the alternative funding models or even maybe the right solution?

There are so many examples, such as:

  • the original concepts from CABESpace and GreenSpace to the recent NESTA Rethink Parks in the UK.

I can cite (and talk in detail of) a range of alternative (and successful) models from:

•   Golden Gate (USA)

•   Central Park (USA)

•   The Lee Valley model (UK)

•   Lottery Approaches – Netherlands Postcode to your own Heritage Lottery (Netherlands), to

•   Cornwall Park Trust (NZ)

Around the world, we have tried all models from central government through to philanthropic to private models. It is interesting to note that the possible funding choices are linked very strongly to the Governance model chosen and the circumstances or context in their society, that sets “boundaries’ or limits?….but even more interestingly the Leadership that is associated with the so called successful models.

And I can speak at length on all of them and have documented these models in other articles. It is interesting to note that some of these models may have faltered or are faltering and it is mainly due to leadership (and understanding)

The “Never Enough Funds”Conversation

So why around the world do we constantly have this conversation? From the IUCN to World Urban Parks.

In a very Economic rationalist view clearly, no one really wishes to buy the “park” product be it the government, the community or individuals.  When your product is still left on the shelf. What do you do? Is the product out of date?

But we believe, we have a “great” product – and that maybe the case. In fact, we (all around the world) have taken the route to prove this – “The Value of Parks” syndrome – very rational and scientific approaches have been taken to prove the case – even with verification by the Big four Accounting companies. If we have produced the case for the value of parks, and I don’t doubt for a moment that we have, why are we still debating the ‘funding” dilemma:

•    Have we not prosecuted the case well?

•    Why has no one been willing to “buy” the product?

•    Have we not reached into government?

•    Leveraged our relationships?

•    Sought individuals of influence?

We can debate this endlessly the “Value of Parks” – and in fact that’s what the sector has been doing for decades. And I am not about to enter into this debate and am willing to accept it is a job well done in explaining the value of parks and I accept that it is still important.

I know this well, having guided the Australian & NZ Park sector (from Protected Areas to Urban Parks) to develop and prosecute the “Value of Parks” argument, even to the point of crafting a completely different mind set – Healthy Parks Healthy People, but where are they now? And why is the “Never Enough Funds” conversation continuing?

Funding Models what are they really?

The funding “models” we so desperately seek to understand, mimic, co-opt and implement, are they not just a plain rationale analysis of what they are, if it was life would be simple and we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation,…for example some of these models are as simple as this:

  • the Parks Victoria model in its day is just simply a “rating” based funding model,
  • Golden Gate is simply a philanthropic and partnership model
  • Central Park is just simply a philanthropic model
  • Cornwall Park is just simply an endowment model
  • The lottery model is well just selling dreams

and yes when others try to emulate them they are usually far from successful.

What are we missing in this analysis?

So, if you re-look at some of these models:

•    The Parks Victoria model was successful from the 1970’s to late 2000’s due to the vision of a Premier of Victoria to create the “Garden State” and hence why Melbourne has one of the best and most extensive parks system.

•    Golden Gate – is because of a unique individual in Brian O’Neill

•    Cornwall Park – Sir John Logan Cornwall – a farsighted individual

Clearly leadership is important – but doing the Journey – in many places we keep jumping ship on leadership, therefore understanding the vision/concept.

So is it just a question of leadership? 

And don’t we have that leadership now:

•    what President or Leader of a country has established a legacy park or urban park program?

•    What individual such as a Branson or a Gates have left a ongoing “park” system legacy,

•    What modern legacies are being developed that we should be following.

Different Mindset – A different product

Yes, leadership is important but it is actually what they did and the “trend” that they picked…yes the individual is important and how often do we “push” them aside?

“When did you pick the “Golden Gate” trend? And did you pick it early enough?”

What are the emerging concepts and who are the emerging “thinkers’ – the individuals….. The Skyline, The Urban City National Park…

However it it TIME……..Time to do it differently and in that I will constantly prosecute the case to “Rethink” Parks beyond even NESTA’s program and to back the crazy ones – the ones who think differently. And I am a big fan of programs like “NESTA” that enabling “thinking”.

When Brian O’Neill – the foundation of the Golden Gate model – started his journey back in the 1960’s, the fundamental concept was to connect with people and to empower people…the USA NPS ignored him, initially, as an aberration…they now wish that they had many more…

So, what would you do differently and how would this “fund” parks? So, this brings me back to the conundrum – Park Value(s) = extra funds. We spend a lot of time trying to convince everyone that parks are valuable and thus they should invest in parks.

However, the park product remains on the shelves and no one is buying?

The future or is it signposts from the past

The successful park models “just” went and created the “value” and the money side of the equation sorted itself. The Value that they created was different from the traditional “park” value – think skyline (USA), think the first National Park (over hundred years ago – it wasn’t about funding but belief), think Healthy Parks Healthy People, think Cornwall Park (UK).

It is one of my favourite things about Steve Jobs – was that he wished us to buy something that would change our lives and we did, he didn’t try to sell something to just make money…

Brian O’Neill (of Golden Gate fame) did exactly this “created” value before asking for money..the laneways of Melbourne are another classic…

So, the issue isn’t funding but a vision with leadership that fits the context of a society and a very deep belief. It is also fascinating to note that the successfully models have had a long-term consistence of individuals and not the revolving door seen more regularly in modern society.

So, Rethink, Redesign Parks – there are concepts in the world that are creating new park “values” such as:

  • The Urban National Park City concept – probably the biggest Rethink since the first National Park – visit London
  • Health Centric parks – a slow emerging concept from Japan to address an aging population where parks are the central feature of primary health care.

It is clear we need to:

  • Approach this challenge differently and the future of parks might need even more diverse individuals involved.
  • Understand the models better but more importantly understand who to back locally
  • Support, be passionate and belief in the “concepts” emerging in your own backyard
  • Rewrite the rules – The laneways of Melbourne
  • Pull the park model apart and have no fear – National Park City

The solutions have always been in front of us and in this great world – it only requires being aware and seeing what is possible:

“Instead of being afraid of the challenge and failure, be afraid of avoiding the challenge and doing nothing.”

Soichiro Honda, the founder of Honda Motor Company

In memory of the great Brian O’Neill 

“nothing was difficult everything was attainable” 

Lost in the Mist – do we lose our focus?

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15 years ago I was on a Board for a not for profit that provided environmental education to primary schools. It was a well-known iconic brand, that even the Weekly Times would support with free posters. This was the Gould League.

However slowly through the 80’s and 90’s as the education sector support drifted away and environmental consciousness expanded with the onset of climate change, the organisation started to evolve and broaden out into related “environmental” programs.  Sounds logical?

Part of this was funding (availability) driven both the change in support funding from the education sector and the draw of broader environmental change funding such as sustainability.

So the organisation was constantly battling to maintain its original purpose – primary school environmental education compared to delivering Environmental Sustainability actions such as rainwater conservation.  It wasn’t until a discussion regarding bidding for funding related to just water conservation anywhere and not just at schools, did it become so evident that the organisation might have lost its way.  Heard this before?

Even though the moral high ground of the broader environment agenda would seem right, the organisation a few years after I left the Board (due to this misalignment) went into re-mission – administration.

If and when you get to this point where purpose, brand essences and business logical aren’t aligned, the steps needed to be taken are hard and difficult and in many cases are conflicted as the world has also changed.  When you need to rebuild, you need to understand the fabric – you need to find the fabric.  This might seem simple but rarely is and will take time as it isn’t just an “internal” dilemma – reconnect with the original purpose is also a realignment with the market place and society that is more complex and sophisticated.  And it definitely isn’t just charismatic verbalisation of a concept – it is about making it real.

As stated by Steve Jobs – “focus and simplicity” might be harder than being “Lost in the Mist” and as clearly articulated by the famous management guru – Peter Drucker…

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A Modern Interpretation on Leadership in Parks

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In early 2015 I commenced with my first posting of Parks4Life:

Welcome to Parks4Life – Exploring Leadership and Innovation in park management

That blog outlined the key areas that I would focus on.  Since that first post I have explored:

  • Design Legacy – a conceptual concept that isn’t discussed or explored in the park management sector even though it is embedded in the National Park legacy and there will be much debate about what it is.
  • Park Governance Models – There have been many examinations of “park” management arrangements from a range of different perspectives such as governance, leadership, business models, revenue generation and innovation.
  • Key Emerging Innovations – such as London National Urban Park, NESTA Rethink

However, it has taken until now to come back to the “central” theme – leadership.  This blog commences this reflection and forward look at leadership in parks.

In 1995, I completed a Masters Research Thesis (as part of my MBA) on “A Review of Managerialism in Park Organisations in Australia”:

My interest in “Managerialism” and its impact in Public Sector management developed due to the interesting and frank discussions and debates that were a part of the Monash MBA program.  In this regard special recognition is due to the staff of the Public Sector Management Institute at Monash University especially David Corbett, Race Mathews and Professor Bill Russell.

This thesis involved an investigation of managerialism in Park organisations in Australia.  The application of the techniques introduced as part of the managerialist reform of Australian Park and Open Space organisations is examined and an alternative approach that enhances the likelihood of achieving the expected improvements is explored.

The managerial reforms in Australia have changed the public sector dramatically and the traditional public sector administration has all but disappeared.  However, the value of the reforms have been extensively debated and few empirical studies have been undertaken.

This paper explores the hypothesis that a holistic approach to the management of organisations may improve the chances of delivering the anticipated improvements which stakeholders including staff, management, clients and owners, desire.  Holistic management can best be described as a management philosophy founded in the quality movement and not a single management tool.

During the time I was undertaking my Thesis, I was taken by an observation by Peter Drucker (1974) in his book Management stated that:

“Few (government) service institutions today suffer from having too few administrators; most of them are over administrated, and suffer from a surplus of procedures, organisation charts and management techniques.  What now has to be learned is to manage the service institutions for performance.  This may well be the biggest and most important management task of the century” (p.166).

This statement (observation?) is still so very true and seems to haunt the public sector throughout the western world.

It has only been a recent event with an organisation that I have had some previous involvement with, that brought me back to this central theme of leadership and Peter Drucker.

I have recently published seven relative short articles through LinkedIn around a modern interpretation of leadership and the present leadership of integrity, visions and impact.   The public sector in the western world is gripped in a focus on what “leadership” means and what is integrity.  This discussion reminds me of the 1980’s debates on NPM – New Public Management – an era where rigorous debates were encouraged that help reshape the concept of Public Sector Administration into Public Sector Management.  The present discussion might just be a process of regaining the heart and soul of what is “public service” in a broader sense and not just the domain of the government.  It may lead to defining “Public Sector Leadership” – PSL.

 

The First Series: – Reflections on Leadership

Over time I will expand and explore this concept of leadership in parks and also reflect on great examples from around the world.

I encourage you to participate in this conversation as the challenges to society are immense however the benefits of a modern park system maybe set the foundation for society and a liveable communities and a sustainable world.

 

 

 

What defines a National Park City – Part 3

 

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Venice – A National Urban Marine Park?  Photo – Caitlin McCarthy 2016

In my first two blogs What defines a National Park City – Part 2, I started to explore:

  • the idea of the meaning of National Parks and it was interesting to understand that the modern definition of a National Park is different from the original intent,
  • the history and what might be National Urban Parks, and
  • What defines a city space – the context of the “Urban National Park”.

In this blog I will explore what constitutes the attributes that defines a National Park (in a modern sense) and are there other relevant approaches and how this might relate to “National Urban Parks”.

The categorisation process is really a post WWII concept that has emerged through bodies such as UNESCO, UN and IUCN.

The IUCN & Categories

It was in 1969 when the IUCN defined a system that categorised what are protected areas (or areas to protect conservation values).

A Protected Area can be defined as:

Generally, protected areas are understood to be those in which human occupation or at least the exploitation of resources is limited. The definition that has been widely accepted across regional and global frameworks has been provided by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in its categorisation guidelines for protected areas. The definition is as follows:

“A clearly defined geographical space, recognized, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values

Source:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protected_area

The IUCN have defined 6 Categories of Protected Areas and National Parks Category is defined as:

Category II: National Park

Large natural or near natural areas set aside to protect large-scale ecological processes, along with the complement of species and ecosystems characteristic of the area, which also provide a foundation for environmentally and culturally compatible spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational and visitor opportunities.

With a Primary Objective:

To protect natural biodiversity along with its underlying ecological structure and supporting environmental processes, and to promote education and recreation.

Source:  http://www.iucn.org/theme/protected-areas/about/protected-area-categories/category-ii-national-park

But what are the characteristics that define this classification system:

Other objectives

To manage the area in order to perpetuate, in as natural a state as possible, representative examples of physiographic regions, biotic communities, genetic resources and unimpaired natural processes;

To maintain viable and ecologically functional populations and assemblages of native species at densities sufficient to conserve ecosystem integrity and resilience in the long term;

To contribute in particular to conservation of wide-ranging species, regional ecological processes and migration routes;

To manage visitor use for inspirational, educational, cultural and recreational purposes at a level which will not cause significant biological or ecological degradation to the natural resources;

To take into account the needs of indigenous people and local communities, including subsistence resource use, in so far as these will not adversely affect the primary management objective;

To contribute to local economies through tourism.

Distinguishing features

Category II areas are typically large and conserve a functioning “ecosystem”, although to be able to achieve this, the protected area may need to be complemented by sympathetic management in surrounding areas.

The area should contain representative examples of major natural regions, and biological and environmental features or scenery, where native plant and animal species, habitats and geodiversity sites are of special spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational or tourist significance.

The area should be of sufficient size and ecological quality so as to maintain ecological functions and processes that will allow the native species and communities to persist for the long term with minimal management intervention.

The composition, structure and function of biodiversity should be to a great degree in a “natural” state or have the potential to be restored to such a state, with relatively low risk of successful invasions by non-native species.

Source:  http://www.iucn.org/theme/protected-areas/about/protected-area-categories/category-ii-national-park

Does our concept of a National Park need to evolve?

At this stage it is difficult to quantify the parameters that would make a parcel of land unique to be considered as a National Park.

What is a “large tract” of land?

Who determines “representative examples”? or

What is “recreational or tourism significance”?

Interesting questions, so who judges what will be a National Park?

  • The people behind “Americas greatest idea”?
  • The IUCN?
  • The UN?
  • Sovereign nations?
  • The community?

The IUCN has produced a lengthy guide on how to apply the Protected Area Management Categories (143 pages).

Source:   https://cmsdata.iucn.org/downloads/iucn_assignment_1.pdf

So returning to “America’s best idea” – the creation of Yosemite National Park – it certainly is a large tract of land that is in a natural state and represents unique biophysical features and is also of international significance as a tourism destination.  However this designation as a National Park occurred well before a classification system was agreed upon, some 105 years earlier.

In fact most countries designate parks as “National Parks” without any international assessment as would occur with say a “World Heritage” designation.  This doesn’t mean that parks don’t meet the agreed framework but there are many examples where this doesn’t occur and maybe the system should evolve.  The National Urban Parks concept does beg this question – who will judge if a City should be a “National Urban Park”.  However when the discussion does start to occur, it usually starts at the “1969 Protected Area” lens rather than a broader holistic concept.  Is the “1969 Protected Area” lens out of date? And has our thinking evolved?

If you start with the “1969 Protected Area” lens, very few parks in cities could be considered as Category II and that is without defining what being in a city means (see: So what is a City?) .  And no Cities would as the whole landscape (public and private) be considered as a “National (Urban) Park”.  And I stand to be corrected.

Other Concepts for defining a National Urban Park

So are there other concepts that maybe more relevant or should be incorporated to define a “National Urban Park”:

UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. This is embodied in an international treaty called the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage , adopted by UNESCO in 1972.

Source: http://whc.unesco.org/en/about/

The World Heritage system is a heavily defined process against clear criteria

To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria.

Source: http://whc.unesco.org/en/criteria/

 

ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites)

This non-government organisation “works for the conservation and protection of cultural heritage places”

Source:   http://www.icomos.org/en/

ICOMOS has developed a range of Charters and Declarations since 1964 including two that could help define the park topology in terms of city landscape:

 Charter for the Conservation of Historic Towns and Urban Areas (The Washington Charter) – 1987

Source:   http://www.international.icomos.org/charters/towns_e.pdf

Historic Gardens (The Florence Charter) – 1981

Source:   http://www.international.icomos.org/charters/gardens_e.pdf

And of course there are a range of UN related program that are driving new ideas and thoughts that may be applicable in defining a “National Park City” such as:

MAB – Biosphere

Launched in 1971, UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) is an Intergovernmental Scientific Programme that aims to establish a scientific basis for the improvement of relationships between people and their environments.

Source:   http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/environment/ecological-sciences/man-and-biosphere-programme/

Could a “National Park City” define itself in terms of the three functions of BioSpheres?:

  • Conservation – contribute to the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic variation
  • Development – foster economic and human development which is socio-culturally and ecologically sustainable
  • Logistic support – support for demonstration projects, environmental education and training, research and monitoring related to local, regional, national and global issues of conservation and sustainable development

UN-Habitat

UN-Habitat is the United Nations programme working towards a better urban future. Its mission is to promote socially and environmentally sustainable human settlements development and the achievement of adequate shelter for all.

 Source:   http://unhabitat.org/

Where next

So in this blog I have explored what constitutes the attributes that defines a National Park (in a modern sense) and the other relevant approaches and how this might relate to “National Urban Parks”.  However before we construct a classification system or bolted it onto another system with another purpose, it is worthwhile exploring in my next blog what might well be “UK’s Best Idea” for parks.

What defines a National Park City – Part 2

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Arthur’s Seat (Holyrood Park) – Edinburgh Scotland – A true National Urban Park?

In my last blog ” What defines a National Park City“, I started to explore the idea of the meaning of National Parks and it was interesting to understand that the modern definition of a National Park is different from the original intent.

Before I explore what constitutes the attributes that defines a National Park (in a modern sense), it is worthwhile exploring the present concepts of established “Urban National Parks”.

The Scandinavian countries have made definable progress in establishing “National Urban Parks” and there has been some (but limited) attempts to define what constitutes a “National Urban Park”.

Sweden: 26,000 ha

The Royal National City Park (Swedish: Kungliga nationalstadsparken) is (apparently – authors note) the world’s first national city park, established in 1995 in the municipalities of Stockholm, Solna and Lidingö in Sweden.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_National_City_Park

Finland:

The Pori National Urban Park was established in May 2002

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pori_National_Urban_Park

And more recently in Canada with:

Rouge National Urban Park – 7,900ha

Parks Canada is excited to work towards the establishment of Canada’s first national urban park – Rouge National Urban Park – in the Greater Toronto Area.

Once fully established, Rouge National Urban Park will be one of the largest and best protected urban parks of its kind in the world, spanning 79.1 square kilometres (7900ha – authors comment) in the heart of Canada’s largest and most diverse metropolitan area, overlapping the cities of Toronto, Markham and Pickering. Indeed, Rouge National Urban Park will be 22 times larger than Central Park in New York.

Source:  http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/on/rouge/about/apropos-about.aspx

It would seem that there have been a history of National Parks being created within the metropolitan boundaries of cities, even before the first Sweden Urban National Park.  Examples are

1987 -The Dandenong Ranges National Park (Melbourne Australia) – 3,500ha

The Dandenong Ranges National Park is a national park located in the Greater Melbourne region of Victoria, Australia. The 35,400-hectare (87,000-acre) national park is situated from 31 kilometres (19 mi) at its western most points at Ferntree Gully and Boronia to 45 kilometres (28 mi) at it easternmost point at Silvan, east of the Melbourne city centre.

The park was proclaimed on 13 December 1987 (1987-12-13), amalgamating the Ferntree Gully National Park, Sherbrooke Forest and Doongalla Estate. In 1997 the Olinda State Forest, Mt. Evelyn and Montrose Reserve were formally added to the national park.

Source:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dandenong_Ranges_National_Park

1998 – Table Mountain National Park – 22,000ha

Table Mountain National Park, previously known as the Cape Peninsula National Park, is a national park in Cape Town, South Africa, proclaimed on 29 May 1998, for the purpose of protecting the natural environment of the Table Mountain Chain, and in particular the rare fynbos vegetation. The park is managed by South African National Parks. The property is included as part of the UNESCO Cape Floral Region World Heritage Site.

Source:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Table_Mountain_National_Park

These two examples both meet the IUCN criteria Category II – National Parks and probably can be deemed to be also National Urban Parks as well depending on having a definition that is internationally recognised.

There are also many other concepts and constructs around significant urban parks.  I have spoken at length about the urban park legacies created by “Capability” Brown (think Hampton Court Palace – London), Olmsted (think Central Park – NY) and Brian O’Neill (Think Golden Gate – San Francisco).  Many of these have shaped the thinking around what defines a large urban park and thus what would be a National Park in a City or a National Urban Park.  The World Urban Parks  has also been exploring the concept of large urban parks and the role they play in cities.

It was recognised that large urban parks can have unique socio-cultural environmental and economic roles and issues. A World Urban Parks-hosted web conference of large urban parks leaders in November 2015 endorsed a terms of reference, and proposed a Large Urban Parks executive committee and initial activities to facilitate a Large Urban Parks Network.

Source:  http://www.worldurbanparks.org/en/programs/large-urban-parks-committee

So apart from who holds the title of the first true national park in a city and I will leave that to others to debate, explore and determine.  And all of that will depend on the definition and characteristics you may agree on.  It seems that the first attribute of a National Urban Park is that it needs to be in a city but what defines a city and its boundaries?

City Definition from Wikipedia:

A city is a large and permanent human settlement.[1][2] Although there is no agreement on how a city is distinguished from a town in general English language meanings, many cities have a particular administrative, legal, or historical status based on local law.

Cities generally have complex systems for sanitation, utilities, land usage, housing, and transportation. The concentration of development greatly facilitates interaction between people and businesses, sometimes benefiting both parties in the process, but it also presents challenges to managing urban growth.

Source:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City

City Definition from OCED:

Until recently, there was no harmonised definition of ‘a city’ for European and other countries member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). This undermined the comparability, and thus also the credibility, of cross-country analysis of cities. To resolve this problem, the OECD and the European Commission developed a new definition of a city and its commuting zone in 2011.

….cities with an urban centre of at least 50000 inhabitants

Source:  CITIES IN EUROPE – Lewis Dijkstra and Hugo Poelman 2012

Source:  http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/sources/docgener/focus/2012_01_city.pdf

So does that provide any clarity?

The OECD report of 2012 even gets more complex in defining a City based on commuter arrangements: “if 15% of employed persons living in one city work in another city, these cities are treated as a single city.”  And then there is the issue of “To better capture the entire urban centre, a ‘greater city’ level can be created. This is a fairly common approach and several greater cities already exist: Greater Manchester, Greater Nottingham etc.” OECD 2012 report – http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/sources/docgener/focus/2012_01_city.pdf

So what is a City?

Well the City of London is a City and technically has a population of 8000 people and an area of 290 ha.

 Source:   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_of_London

But we generally think of Greater London and a population of close to 12 million as the City.  So the first attribute probably needs to be around the OECD definition of greater cities.  However this doesn’t necessarily defines the physical boundary, unless you just assume the edges of a great city are defined by either a regulated planning boundary (Think – The Melbourne Metropolitan growth boundary) or existing local authority boundaries.

If you use the Melbourne definition, you tend to exclude the key service infrastructure such as the water catchments that enable a City to exist or the significant green belts that make Melbourne such a liveable City.  And given that the modern world is focused on Liveability as the world urbanises, we probably need to take an even broader interpretation of what defines a City.  Will this first attribute (the definition of a city) of defining a National Urban Park matter? NO?

Probably YES, as world institutions have a need to compartmentalise and define most things, so we can clear define a park as a “National Urban Park”.  In my next blog I will explore the attributes of what internationally defines a National Park and related concepts such as World Heritage and Biospheres to set a scene to actually explore a newer concept (than National Urban Parks) the National Park City paradigm.

What defines a National Park City

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Over the last twenty years, a number of Governments and individuals have been exploring the concept of national parks and cities.  Generally the discussion and the developments have mostly centred on the purity of the “national park” concept and have only seen limited progress of understanding of a National Park concept within a City.

However the Scandinavian countries have made definable progress in establishing “National Urban Parks” and there has been some (but limited) attempts to define what constitutes a “National Urban Park”.

Sweden:

The Royal National City Park (Swedish: Kungliga nationalstadsparken) is the world’s first national city park, established in 1995 in the municipalities of Stockholm, Solna and Lidingö in Sweden.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_National_City_Park

Finland:

The Pori National Urban Park was established in May 2002

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pori_National_Urban_Park

Since the 1970’s there have been a number of attempts to develop a typology or classification system for urban parks (including greenspace and green infrastructure), however they have generally failed to gain acceptance and international recognition.

Over the next six months, I am going to explore – what defines a “National Park City” and in this journey will explore the founding wisdom regarding national parks and posing what might be the criteria for a City to become a “National Park City”.

So where to start?

John Muir once said

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.

So what is a National Park, the standard definitions range from Wikipedia:

A national park is a park in use for conservation purposes. Often it is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or owns. Although individual nations designate their own national parks differently, there is a common idea: the conservation of ‘wild nature’ for posterity and as a symbol of national pride.[1]

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_park

to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN):

Category II: National Park

Large natural or near natural areas set aside to protect large-scale ecological processes, along with the complement of species and ecosystems characteristic of the area, which also provide a foundation for environmentally and culturally compatible spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational and visitor opportunities.

Source: http://www.iucn.org/theme/protected-areas/about/protected-area-categories/category-ii-national-park

And at this stage most individuals would be thinking of Yosemite National Park in the USA (apparently the first National Park) – yes a large area that is protected in law that would probably met the IUCN definition and would also met the Wikipedia definition especially reflecting “national pride”.

The Concept of a National Park

So where did this concept of a National Park come from and were they set aside based on the definition that now exists?  The history of National Parks as a concept was captured in a very significant documentary:

The National Parks: America’s Best Idea is the story of an idea as uniquely American as the Declaration of Independence and just as radical: that the most special places in the nation should be preserved, not for royalty or the rich, but for everyone.

Source: http://www.pbs.org/nationalparks/about/

But what was the original intent:

In 1864, Congress passes an act that protects Yosemite from commercial development for “public use, resort and recreation” – the first time in world history that any government has put forth this idea – and hands control of the land to California.

Source: http://www.pbs.org/nationalparks/about/episode-guide/

or

By the Act of March 1, 1872, Congress established Yellowstone National Park in the Territories of Montana and Wyoming “as a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people”

In 1864 there was no doubt that the significance of the landscape (the Cathedrals of the Valleys) provided the foundational motive but the legislative Act was about “public use, resort and recreation”.  This was far from the definition that we now associate with a National Park.  An interesting aside (but significant in a definitional sense) is that the park was placed in control of the California State.

So the definition of a National Park and even how we perceive a national park maybe a relatively recent construct.  This is truly reflected in exploring the history of the creation of parks that we call “National Parks”:

From the UK – access to the Countryside:

First freedom to roam bill fails

James Bryce MP starts a campaign for public access to the countryside by introducing the first freedom to roam bill to parliament in 1884. The bill fails but the campaign, which was to last for more than 100 years, had begun.

Early 20th century – Public demands access to the countryside

There is a growing appreciation of the great outdoors, the benefits of physical exercise, and the feeling of freedom and of spiritual renewal gained from open-air recreation. It is a response to widespread industrialisation, the expansion of towns and cities and the ongoing enclosure of land by landowners for farming or sporting reasons. Conflicts emerge between landowners and public interest groups as the latter demand greater access to the countryside.

1930s – Mass trespass on Kinder Scout increases pressure for national parks designations

A 1931 government inquiry recommends the creation of a ‘national park authority’ to select areas for designation as national parks. However, no action is taken and public discontent grows, leading to the 1932 mass trespasses on Kinder Scout in the Peak District. Five men are imprisoned.

Source:  http://www.nationalparks.gov.uk/students/whatisanationalpark/history

So why are the definitions now, really only a recent construct?

This poses many questions:

  • What do the definitions mean in a City sense?
  • What are the attributes that define a national park?

Much of this will be explored in future blogs about “What Defines a National Park City”

The modern “Tragedy of the Commons”

The majority of reports internationally regarding wellbeing, liveability or economic wellbeing always tend to result in identifying obesity and mental health issues as significant challenges or issues.  Issues that have significant economic costs as well as the obvious personal cost.

Just examine any of the international indicators to grasp the extent.
So recently I made an observation via Twitter in response to the four big issues for Australia.  My tweet was:

2 of the big 4 be solved with “up-stream” concepts “Healthy Commons Healthy Cities Healthy Communities” @WUParks

This was in response to the Fairfax-Lateral Economics Index of Australia’s Wellbeing:

http://www.theage.com.au/comment/the-four-things-that-drag-australia-down-20160607-gpdfrg

My tweet is part reflection on 16 years since the development of the Healthy Parks Healthy People concept that emerged out of the observation regarding the chronic societal health issues that were emerging (see Oxford Health Alliance).  A concept that was ahead of its time and has become central to park management worldwide (See USA National Parks Service).

So why are these chronic health issues even more chronic?  Have we failed to read the tea leaves?  Are we designing cities and even just where we live to address these issues?

Thus the comment regarding the “commons”.  The “Tragedy of the Commons” is a well known concept:

The tragedy of the commons is an economic theory of a situation within a shared-resource system where individual users acting independently according to their own self-interest behave contrary to the common good of all users by depleting that resource through their collective action.

Tragedy of the Commons

Given that openspace is the traditional and original “Common”, and is there for the benefit of everyone, have we “depleted” it as a resource that solves these chronic health issues?

It seems that it maybe the reverse that we haven’t tapped this resource well or even at times not at all.  There would be many who would argue that we may have depleted the commons in terms of Eco-system services or environmental value and I am not going to debate or dispute this and there are many other fine individuals discussing and prosecuting this.

So is it time to create “The health tragedy of the Commons” where in the future we are debating over a depleted resource that has generated exceptional health and community outcomes? Or do we create the (economic) concept of “The Benefit of the Commons”?
Clearly as cities grow, as we move to over 70% of the human population residing in cities by 2030 and we create these massive peri-urban sprawl – society need to make “space” work better to solve these chronic health issues but also create what should be sustainable, liveable communities.

The simple concept (strap line) ” Healthy Parks Healthy Parks” was a dramatic and strategic response in 1999 to the health challenges as well as the broader ethical value of parks (See Healthy Parks Healthy People).  This simple concept is underpinned by extensive science and knowledge and has in some areas of the world seen some interesting innovation in park management and use.  However clearly the “in park” response at a urban scale hasn’t kept pace even with the chronic health issues.  This is a global dilemma.

So it is time not only to Rethink parks, openspace and green infrastructure, it is time to start with a simple but matter of fact strap line – that is self evident and true (and may yet not have the underlying evidence):

Healthy Commons Healthy Cities Healthy Communities

Future funding of Parks – UK

I have just recently updated this post to include a Reflections section that includes recent media regarding this topic.

As part of a Hort Week and Parks Alliance (UK) Leaders Roundtable in London (22nd January 2016) on the “Future funding of Parks – what can the UK learn from others?”, I as the Deputy Chair of the World Urban Parks delivered the keynote and a range of observations.

The Organisations:

Horticulture Week has a long relationship with the Parks Alliance. The Alliance was established in 2013 by 40 key leaders from across the UK and grew from the “Making Parks a Priority” campaign run by Horticulture Week.

The Parks Alliance is the voice of UK parks, representing the people and organisations that create, maintain, invest in and use the public green spaces that we are proud to have at the heart of British life. We campaign at local, regional, UK and EU levels to ensure that parks are properly funded, their roles recognized and developed, and that the benefits that they provide are clearly understood and recognized.

The Roundtable Series:

This will be the first in a series of roundtables by the Park Alliance to develop policy positions. This roundtable will help us tease out what options we have for new funding models that will ensure that parks continue to flourish. We would like to be in the position where we could outline what a future park funding model could look like.

The Roundtable Participants:

Kate Lowe, Horticulture week

Drew Bennellick, Head of Landscape & Natural Heritage at the Heritage Lottery Fund

Sir Terry Farrell CBE, architect

Nadia Broccardo, CEO of Team London Bridge

Dave Morris, Chair of The National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces

Ben Rogers, Director of the Centre for London

Lydia Ragoonanan, Programme Manager for the Rethinking Parks at NESTA

Peter Massini, Principal Policy Officer GLA Environment Team

Kate Swade, Development Manager at Shared Assets

Maria Adebowale, Director of Living Space Project

Susannah Wilks, Director of the Cross River Partnership

Ed Wallis, Editorial Director and Senior Research Fellow at the Fabian society

Mark Camley, Chair of the Parks Alliance and Executive Director for Park Operations and Venues, LLDC.

Sue Morgan, CEO of Wandle Valley Regional Park Trust

Alistair Bayford, Regional Operations Director at The Landscape Group

Paul Lincoln, Deputy Chief Executive, Landscape Institute

Wayne Grills, Chief Operations Officer of the British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI)

My Keynote:

A brief outline of my thoughts and observation are outlined here:

Introduction

Many thanks for allowing me the opportunity to make a few opening remarks regarding this seemingly ongoing discussion regarding this topic, a discussion going on for decades – and that maybe my first observation – we may need to approach this challenge differently.

It is great to see such a diversity of participants from a few different sectors and with different views – and this maybe my second observation – the future of parks might need even more diverse individuals involved.

It is also great to see the UK trying and generating different approaches – be it low level bridges to create more effective use of space, to using dis-used tube lines as Cycle-lines to think tanks such as NESTA – and this maybe my third observation – the solutions maybe in front of you already…

Yes, I am likely to make a range of observations that might seemingly be critical of the park sector.  I might be harsh and demand that we do it differently, I don’t just stand on the sidelines but actively participate, so I am criticising myself and willing to accept the criticisms.  This is my fourth observation – a need to challenge all that we do – In the UK think rubbish and rubbish bins or how parks seem to be “gated”

So Is there a silver bullet?

For the last 10 to 15 years we have endlessly pursued the funding conundrum without a sense of closure or clarity.

You don’t have to go far to find the evidence of the alternative funding models or even maybe the right solution?

There are so many examples, such as:

Locally (UK) from the original work of CABESpace and GreenSpace to the recent NESTA Rethink Parks.

I can cite a range of alternative (and successful) models from:

  • Golden Gate
  • Central Park
  • The Lee Valley model
  • Lottery Approaches – Netherlands Postcode to your own Heritage Lottery
  • Cornwall Park Trust, to
  • Parks Victoria.

Around the world we have tried all models from central government through to philanthropic to private. It is interesting to note that the possible funding choices are linked very strongly to the Governance model chosen and the circumstances or context in their society, that sets “boundaries’ or limits?….but even more interestingly the Leadership that is associated with the so called successful models.

And I can speak at length on all of them.  It is interesting to note that some of these models may have faltered or are faltering and it is mainly due to leadership (and understanding)

The Conversation

So why around the world do we constantly have this conversation?  From the IUCN to WUP.

In a very Economic rationalist view or moment clearly, no one really wishes to buy the “park” product be it the government, the community or individuals.   When your product is still left on the shelf.  What do you do?  Is the product out of date?

But I hear you say we have a “great” product – and that maybe the case.  In fact we (all around the world) have taken the route to prove this – “The Value of Parks” syndrome –  very rational and scientific approaches have been taken to prove the case – even with verification by the Big four Accounting companies.  If we have produced the case for the value of parks, and I don’t doubt for a moment that we have, why are we still debating the ‘funding” dilemma.

  • Have we not prosecuted the case well?
  • Why has no one been willing to “buy” the product.
  • Have we not reached into government?
  • Leveraged our relationships?
  • Sought individuals of influence?

From Michelle Obama to Prince Charles – haven’t you got the “Royal” Parks?

We can debate this endlessly (the value of parks) – and in fact that’s what the sector has been doing for decades.  And I am not about to enter into this debate and am willing to accept it is a job well done in explaining the value of parks and I accept that it is still important.

I know this well, having guided the Australian & NZ Park sector (from Protected Areas to Urban Parks) to develop and prosecute the “Value of Parks” argument, even to the point of crafting a completely different mind set – Healthy Parks Healthy People, and where are they now?

Funding Models what are they really?

The funding “models” we so desperately seek to understand, mimic, co-opt  and implement, are they not just a plain rationale analysis of what they are, if it was life would be simple and we probably wouldn’t be having this discussion,…for example some of these models are as simple as this:

  • the Parks Victoria model in it’s day is just simply a “rating” based funding model,
  • Golden Gate is simply a philanthropic and partnership model
  • Central Park is just simply a philanthropic model
  • Cornwall Park is just simply an endowment model
  • The lottery model is well just selling dreams

and yes when others try to emulate them they are usually far from successful.

What are we missing in this analysis?

So if you re-look at some of these models:

  • The Parks Victoria model was successful from the 1970’s to late 2000’s due to the vision of a Premier of Victoria to create the “Garden State” and hence why Melbourne has one of the best and most extensive parks system.
  • Golden Gate – is because of a unique individual in Brian O’Neill
  • Cornwall Park – Sir John Logan Cornwall – a farsighted individual

Clearly leadership is important – but doing the Journey – in many places we keep jumping ship on leadership, therefore understand the vision/concept – consider HPHP.

So is it just a question of leadership?

And don’t we have that leadership now:

  • what President or Leader of a country has established a legacy park or urban park program?
  • What individual such as a Branson or a Gates have left a ongoing “park” system legacy,
  • What modern legacies are being developed that we should be following.

Different Mindset – A different product

Yes, leadership is important but it is actually what they did and the “trend” that they picked…yes the individual is important and how often do we “push” them aside?

When did you pick the “Golden Gate” trend?  And did you pick it early enough?

What are the emerging concepts and who are the emerging “thinkers’ – the individuals…..  The Skyline, The Urban City National Park…

However it it TIME……..Time to do it differently and in that I will constantly prosecute the case to “Rethink” Parks beyond even NESTA’s program and to back the crazy ones – the ones who think differently.  And I am a big fan of “NESTA” and enabling “thinking”.

When Brian O’Neill started his journey back in the 1960’s, the fundamental concept was to connect with people and to empower people…the USA NPS ignored him as an aberration…they now wish that they had many more…

So what would you do differently and how would this “fund” parks?  So this brings me back to the conundrum – Value = funds.  We spend a lot of time trying to convince everyone that we are valuable and thus they should invest.

Before I wrap up I wish to deviate slightly to highlight the greatest barrier: us, government and community Values….If we are underfunded from a government source and that will never change, can we let go and hand they over to anyone to do anything…chaos theory – the answer is “no” as we can’t trust others but we might have too…

Back to the main points:

The successful models “just” went and created the “value” and the money side of the equation sorted it self.  The Value that they created was different from the traditional “park” value – think skyline, think the first National Park (over hundred years ago – it wasn’t about one but belief), think HPHP, think Cornwall Park.  It is one of my favourite things about Steve Jobs – was that he wished us to buy something that would change our lives and we did, he didn’t try to sell something to just make money…

Brian O’Neill did exactly this “created” value before asking for money..the laneways of Melbourne are another classic…

So has the UK got the opportunity to create “value”:

The Urban National Park City – what can I say – amazing…but do any of you blog it, tweet it, talk about it or do you fear it (a sign that it might be the right thing) – it is about creating value and connection but very differently and they even pose the question that money might not be the central issue.

I am a big fan of what is slowly emerging in Japan as they rethink parks.  I have had the pleasure to work closely with their park leaders over the last few decades as they allow others to find the solution and also to “rethink” their roles.

So some observations:

  • We may need to approach this challenge differently.
  • The future of parks might need even more diverse individuals involved.
  • Understand the models better but more importantly understand who to back locally
  • Love and own your homegrown ideas
  • Rewrite the rules – The laneways of Melbourne
  • Pull the model apart – have no fear
  • The solutions maybe in front of you already…

So some thoughts:

  • Yes, create the first Urban City National Park
  • Create a health park – and again not just some isolated “gym” stuff
  • Stop – stopping people – what are our laneways…
  • “lifestyle” your offer – We shop, drink coffee, we “lifestyle” ourselves…they are just social processes…make parks central to them..
  • Redesign parks – design legacy…

 

Further Reflections:

Since my keynote there have been number of articles published and responses posted regarding this challenging conundrum:

An Article from: “Shared Assets” –

“Why are we still having this conversation!?”

http://www.sharedassets.org.uk/inspiration/why-are-we-still-having-this,conversation/?utm_content=buffer095d5&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Articles  from HortiCulturalWeek (UK)

 

“Parks programmes in UK are followed worldwide”

http://www.hortweek.com/parks-programmes-uk-followed-worldwide/parks-and-gardens/article/1382073

 

“Leadership is key, finds Parks Alliance debate”

http://www.hortweek.com/leadership-key-finds-parks-alliance-debate/parks-and-gardens/article/1381889

 

 

 

 

 

Park Governance Models – Part 3

Slide3This is the Third posting on the subject of Governance Models for Parks and Open Space. Please refer to the previous posting for context and framework:

In each blog I will provide examples from both ends of the spectrum. The first two examples were (see Previous Posting) were:

  • The Public Sector – Consolidated Revenue: the typical National Parks Service (eg: USA NPS)
    Slide3and
  • The true Benefit Organisation – financially independent from public funds: Cornwall Park (NZ)

The next two examples are:

  • Public-Rate – Parks Victoria
  • Social – NFP (Not for Profit) – Central Park Slide4Conservancy (USA) and Nene Park Trust (UK)

Park Governance Models – Part 2

This is the Second Blog on the subject of Governance Models for Parks and Open Space. As I venture through this topic I may use terminology that may be commonly used in Australia and New Zealand, so please contact me for either clarity or suggestions you have.

As I work through various examples that use these proposed framework (lens) and demonstrate the different and varied governance model, I will with each example briefly describe their key attributes and limits. The limits aren’t to be viewed as a criticism or a weakness of any given example but to highlight where and when this type of governance should be used and when another type of governance maybe more preferred.

Also I will keep stressing the point through out this topic, that there is no one perfect solution and many successful park systems have multiple Governance arrangements that provide flexibility and innovation.

As I explore this framework I will typically provide clear examples from both ends of the spectrum in each blog and over time this will provide a complete picture of examples of the spectrum of governance arrangements. However this will not provide you with an analytical tool to explore which one or many governance arrangements might suit a certain situation. However eventually I will address this challenge.

In each blog I will provide examples from both ends of the spectrum. The first two examples are:

  1. The Public Sector – Consolidated Revenue: the typical National Parks Service (eg: USA NPS) and
  2. The true Benefit Organisation – financially independent from public funds: Cornwall Park (NZ)

Slide2

Slide1 Slide2