Month: April 2014

2014 Parks and Greenspace Conference Recap

On March 31st, Park Pride held the Annual Parks and Greenspace Conference at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Enough cannot be said about this year’s conference – over 400 community advocates and professionals turned out at the gardens, making this conference the largest and most successful in Park Pride’s history.

One reason for this year’s success is the conference’s extremely relevant topic, Pipes to Parks: Creating Greenspace with Rainwater, focused on green infrastructure. On average, Atlanta receives 50 inches of rainfall yearly. In 2013, however, that much rain fell in the *first eight months* and the year finished at over 66 inches of rain. 2013 was the fifth wettest year on record!

At the same time, continued land development is increasing runoff and creating a greater demand on our over-taxed stormwater systems. Pipes to Parks drilled into the incorporation of water management practices for the improvement of existing parks as well as the creation of new parks.


What exactly IS green infrastructure (G.I.)?

Great question! It’s defined as “Sustainable and natural management techniques that harvest, treat and utilize stormwater runoff in greenspaces such as parks, diverting water away from and reducing a need for traditional ‘gray’ infrastructure (i.e., sewers and drainage pipes).

blog3As Historic Fourth Ward Park demonstrates, green infrastructure  provides cost effective and elegant solutions to large scale stormwater issues that also provide the added benefit of an amazing world-class park! Natural stormwater management strategies have been implemented at Lake Claire Park, New Highland Park, Adair Park, and Peachtree Hills Park among others.

At varying scales, green infrastructure solutions offer greater benefits for our communities than traditional graywater solutions. The Parks and Greenspace Conference presenters spoke to the economic benefits of green infrastructure and employment opportunities created by projects incorporating G.I.’s methods. We heard about how combined sewer overflows and stormwater management challenges have been leveraged as opportunities for parks and greenspaces.

blog4We heard from Brad Lancaster on how to harvest water for FREE and turn flood water into irrigation water. We even saw his bun-dance 🙂

We saw green infrastructure in action during the Piedmont Park walking tour and the other tours leading up to the conference (see photos from Sugar Creek Garden and the Proctor Creek Watershed tours).

We heard from water management experts from all across the USA – from Philly to Milwaukee and New Orleans to Cleveland.

We discussed the partnerships necessary to have green infrastructure solutions implemented, and how stakeholders can layer funding sources for green infrastructure projects.

We also focused on the impaired Proctor Creek Watershed and the blight it’s created in the surrounding communities, and how three nonprofits are making progress to address the watershed’s serious issues by utilizing green infrastructure strategies.

Proctor CreekYou can see the complete program with descriptions from each session on our website.

We also took advantage of the Parks and Greenspace Conference to honor the 2014 Inspiration Award Winners.

It doesn’t need to be said, but the day was PACKED of good info and great greenspace networking!

People are talking about Pipes to Parks: Creating Greenspace with Rainwater:

  • I walked away with a strong sense of community.  Our commonalities are much greater than the things that divide us.” ~ Michael Halicki, Park Pride Executive Director
  • “It was really driven home to me that water conservation and management is everyone’s responsibility. This includes governments to communities, tundra residents to desert residents and all those in between.” ~ Marlina McKay, Park Pride Manager of IT
  • “I always enjoy the broad range of backgrounds that gather at the conference. Designers, interested citizens, and municipalities.” ~ Attendee
  • “The conference had excellent content and the theme was very on point, especially with what is happening in Atlanta.” ~ Attendee

It Doesn’t End Here …

Spring has sprung, and that means Atlanta is well into the rainy season – let’s not forget about all the great take-aways from the conference! Park Pride will be focusing on green infrastructure all year through our continued efforts to restore the Proctor Creek Watershed as well as through a series of FIVE green infrastructure tours! Click on the links below for more information about each tour.

blog5May 10 – McDaniel Branch Stormwater Restoration Tour

June 14 – Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve and Mason Mill Park Waterworks Tour

July 19 – E.L. Hughie Constructed Treatment Wetlands Tour

August 16 – Columbus Riverfront Tour

September 6 – Proctor Creek Watershed Tour

Save the Date

We’re already gearing up for the 2015 Parks and Greenspace Conference, and you won’t want to miss it! Mark your calendars for Monday, March 23rd at the Atlanta Botanical Garden! Topic announcement coming soon 🙂

Thank You Sponsors!

None of this would have been possible without the support of our conference sponsors! Special gratitude to Cox Conserves for being our Presenting Sponsor, not only for the Parks and Greenspace Conference but for our 25th Anniversary!


25 Days of Service – Lindsay Street Park

On Friday, April 4, more than 180 associates of the Blank Family of Businesses demonstrated their creativity by laying the groundwork for the first park for residents of the English Avenue community of Atlanta!

blog1This park will provide important greenspace and recreational opportunities to improve the health and quality of life of its residents. The Conservation Fund and Park Pride have engaged local residents and community leaders in the long-term vision, design and construction of the park. See the Proctor Creek Vision created by Park Pride and the area residents in 2010 and The Conservation Fund’s vision for Lindsay Street Park.

During its Sixth Annual All-Associates Day, volunteers from the Blank Family of Businesses grabbed their rakes, shovels, paint brushes and weed trimmers (provided by Atlanta Community ToolBank!) to start to build Lindsay Street Park. Additionally, other Blank associates added an artistic element to the park utilizing a vacant house on the site with the help of Dashboard Co-operative.
blog2Funded in part by a grant from The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, The Conservation Fund acquired an assemblage of five properties in English Avenue to be used to build Lindsay Street Park. Blank Family of Businesses associates put their muscles behind the grant, following the lead of Park Pride by removing invasive plants, installing sod and mulch, constructing benches, removing trash and debris, planting flowers, and painting.
blog3In the future, the project will also implement a job-skills training and an environmental education program at the park site. Employing the community in building and maintaining the park will provide income and important economic benefit to those neighborhoods.

Thank you to the Blank Family of Businesses for your hard work and committment! We’re proud to recognize you as part of our 25 Days of Service!


Congratulations 2014 Inspiration Award Winners!

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On Monday, March 31, 2014, Park Pride announced ten recipients for the 2014 Inspiration Awards during the Parks and Greenspace Conference, recognizing leadership that has led to tangible results in parks and greenspaces in Atlanta.

“This year’s Inspiration Awards focus on the concept of teamwork,” said Park Pride’s Executive Director Michael Halicki. “Our awards recognize not just single individuals but team players who work with others to affect change.”

Fourth Ward Park from Park Pride on Vimeo.

Nine of the Inspiration Award winners were commended for their participation as citizen advocates for Historic Fourth Ward Park, acting in the early days when the creation of a new park was not certain. The “citizen advocates and unsung heroes” of Historic Fourth Ward Park and this year’s Inspiration Award winners include: Judy Clements, Marie Cowser, Bill Eisenhauer, Jacqueline Echols, Ph.D., Derek Matory, David Patton, John Perlman, Markham Smith, and Cedric Stallworth. Each of these individuals contributed in different yet vital ways to the creation of Historic Fourth Ward Park. Check out the Park Pride website for a description of each of the winners’ contribution to H4WP!



The tenth Inspiration Award winner, Ellen Wickersham, has been a transformational change agent with Invest Atlanta since 2004 through her role as Senior Project Manager, Parks and Greenspace Acquisition. Over the decade, Ellen facilitated the acquisition of 500 acres of new parkland in the City of Atlanta. Her passion for parks is evident through her role on Park Pride’s Board of Directors and as a member of the Parks and Greenspace Conference Committee. Though she is moving on from her position with Invest Atlanta, we’re happy to announce that she will remain active and involved in parks and greenspace issues!

Ellen Wickersham from Park Pride on Vimeo.

Each Inspiration Award winner received a one-of-a-kind piece forged from re-purposed iron railroad spikes, glass and wood, generously crafted and donated by Andrew Lovell and Mark Wentz, local artists connected to Park Pride by the Lifecycle Building Center.



The artists had a beautiful vision for these pieces:

Captured in watery glass and supported by a forged iron railroad spike, this award offers a simple flower and stem, the emblems of Park Pride. The flower, in its transparency, represents the life-giving potential of water that connects with the water-related theme of this year’s conference. The stem, transformed through heat and determination, reflects the re-purposing of old, forgotten Atlanta railways into vibrant greenspaces that bring new life to our urban environments.

Thank you Andrew and Mark, and congratulations again to all the 2014 Inspiration Award winners!