Month: March 2016

Park Pride’s 2016 Inspiration Awards

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Park Pride’s Inspiration Award Winners, honored at the Parks and Greenspace Conference on March 21, 2016

We know that great parks exist through the efforts of leaders who nurture and strengthen the bond between the parks and communities of which they are a part. Park Pride’s Annual Inspiration Awards honor these leaders:

Linda Bain

Bain 1Linda emerged as a champion of the Sandy Springs Conservancy in 2001 when she served as a founding board member and then later went on to serve as Executive Director until her retirement in 2015. Her collaborative attitude has forged a cadre of friends and volunteers for the Conservancy and has made Linda the go-to person for counsel on greenspace in Sandy Springs for the media, land and homeowners, elected officials, schools and civic groups, and more. She is a hands-on leader, a trustworthy partner and an influential park advocate.


Dave Butler

Dave portraitDave understands the benefits of natural greenspace and for years has been a tireless proponent of parks where nature is the playground. His ability to see beyond the conventional definition of “playing in a park” has enabled parks such as Constitution Lakes, Johns’ Homestead, and Clyde Shepard Nature Center to become integral parts of their communities. While Dave has retired from his position as DeKalb County’s Greenspace Environment Manager, he will continue to serve the environment and community with his enthusiastic participation in various park projects.


Pauline Drake

Pauline Drake.JPGJennie Drake Park is the jewel of Collier Heights thanks to the leadership of Pauline Drake. Pauline worked tirelessly for years to bring her mother’s dream for a park to fruition. Organizing brick sales and hosting workdays out of her childhood home, Pauline’s gumption transformed a collection of empty lots into a place where children now play in the creek and neighbors enjoy a quiet walk on a beautiful nature trail, creating a place where the community truly connects.


Cynthia Gentry

Me and sign in TurkishAtlanta’s local play expert is a defender of children’s right to play. After a terrible accident struck her neighborhood, Cynthia found her calling through her first project of raising funds for a memorial playground. Since then, she’s dedicated her life to researching play, encouraging play and playing with her grandkids. Cynthia is the Founding Director of Play Atlanta, a nonprofit that advocates for play, helps communities set a vision for a playful environment, advises developers on integrating play spaces throughout projects, educates about the importance of play, and much more.


Ronald Johnson

RonaldRonald is a proven master when it comes to positive park activation. From the park to schools, he brings play and good, clean family fun to a community that is often under served. He is an outspoken advocate for current and future parks in the Ellenwood Community. Creating a space where children can safely play and teens can engage in sports instead of getting into trouble motivated him to continue a family tradition of organizing the 19th Annual County Line / Ellenwood Roundup.



Karl Schultz

KarlAt Frazier-Rowe Park, Karl Schultz’s big idea is helping others achieve their big ideas. His magnetic, can-do attitude has made him an inspiration not just to his fellow Friends of the Park members, but to the community’s youth in particular. Karl has mentored four Eagle Scouts through the completion of projects in the park and motivated his daughter to build and install a “little free library” in the park as well. Karl is always the first to lend a hand during volunteer workdays, and in the case of the construction of the park’s new entrance arbor and playground, a strong arm too!


Esther Stokes

Stokes photo-1Esther is a firm believer that all Atlantans in all neighborhoods should have access to quality parks, and she has relentlessly pursued her mission to see this vision through to fruition. Her involvement in parks and greenspace spans 18 years, over which time she’s served on the board and as board chair of both Park Pride and the Piedmont Park Conservancy, as well as on the boards of the Historic Fourth Ward Park Conservancy, the Georgia Advisory Board of the Trust for Public Land and the Atlanta Audubon Society.


Congratulations award winners, and thank you for all you do for parks, greenspace, and our community!

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This year’s Inspiration Awards were specially hand crafted and donated by local artists A.B. Lovell and Mark A. Wentz from Americoglass. Thank you!

Fundraising (and Friend-Raising) Inspiration for Your Park



The Friends of Channing Valley Park have found a deLIGHTful way to bring their neighborhood together to celebrate the holidays and their local park!

Each year, the group sells and distributes luminaries before the neighborhood’s annual holiday party, and then lines the park with the electronically lit luminaries on the night of the party. In order to promote both the sale and event, the Friends group distributes fliers in mailboxes, sends emails through the neighborhood email list, and posts messages to social media (Facebook and Nextdoor). This past holiday season, the Friends sold 490 luminaries for a net profit of $462.

Adapt this Idea!

Luminaries aren’t exclusively winter holiday décor – have a spring May Day party or fall Harvest Festival and sell luminaries to light the evening and enhance the magic!

Friends of Frazier-Rowe Park Leader Wins Cox Conserves Heroes Award



Last October, Tom Branch, a volunteer with the Friends of Frazier-Rowe Park in DeKalb County, was selected as Atlanta’s 2015 Cox Conserves Hero, an award created by Cox Enterprises and The Trust for Public Land to honor volunteers who create, preserve or enhance the shared outdoor places in our communities.

Tom has coordinated hundreds of volunteers through regularly scheduled workdays to create a trail system and restore the park’s forest; his efforts have been transformational!

Congratulations Tom and the Friends of Frazier-Rowe Park for this great honor, and thank you for all of your hard work!

Park Pride Board & Staff News


A decade after starting the Park Visioning Department, Walt Ray has moved on from his role as the program’s Director and from Park Pride.

Luckily for us, he’ll continue to work with parks as the City of Atlanta’s Assistant Director of the Department of Park Design. In this position, Walt hopes to leverage his intimate knowledge of Atlanta’s parks and people to help the City continue to build a strong parks system for citizens. Together, we’ll continue to work to create a nationally recognized network of parks, greenspaces and trails in Atlanta.


Dorothy Kirkley cropped

Dorothy Yates Kirkley completed her term as Board President in January, 2016. We extend our deepest thanks to Dorothy for her leadership, propelling Park Pride to new heights in pursuit of our mission. She will continue to serve on the board as Past President.



Sadler Poe Pic

Sadler Poe has assumed the role of Park Pride’s Board President. Sadler has been a member of the Board since 2013 and served as the Chair of the Fund Development Committee since 2014.




Park Pride welcomes four new members to our Board:


Courtney Fletcher, Doosan Infracore International




JaKathryn Ross

JaKathryn Ross, Georgia-Pacific




Chris Williams_cropped

Christopher Williams, Sr., Georgia Power Company




Barbara Levy, Education Connection

Talking Advocacy Over Green Eggs & Ham

Ayanna_Green Eggs

Green Eggs and Ham panel from left: Sally Sears (South Fork Conservancy), Ayanna Williams (Park Pride), Na’Taki Osborne Jelks (West Atlanta Watershed Alliance), Commissioner Amy Phuong (City of Atlanta Department of Parks & Recreation).


On December 2nd, 2015, panelists served up plenty of greenspace insight to approximately 40 park advocates gathered at the Georgia Conservancy’s quarterly Green Eggs & Ham program. Ayanna Williams, Park Pride’s Director of Community Building, was among the panelists, all of whom are involved in creating more and better greenspaces in Atlanta.

“To successfully make changes in your park, it’s more effective to focus on what you do want to accomplish rather than what you don’t want to see in your park.”
~ Ayanna Williams, Director of Community Building

Sally Sears from the South Fork Conservancy, Na’Taki Osborne Jelks from the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, and Commissioner Amy Phuong of the City of Atlanta’s Department of Parks and Recreation, also participated on the panel.

Join the Conversation!

If you’re interested in park advocacy issues, Park Pride hosts the Parks Atlanta Rescue Coalition (PARC) meeting on the second Wednesday of each month. All are welcome! Visit Park Pride’s advocacy page for more information.

From Vision to Reality: Lindsay Street Park

On October 21st, 2015, a crowd gathered to celebrate the opening of the very first park in the English Avenue neighborhood: Lindsay Street Park. Community members, Park Pride staff, Atlanta city government, representatives from numerous nonprofit organizations and foundation, and Mayor Kasim Reed turned out to witness this major milestone in the community’s revitalization.

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Mayor Reed cuts the ribbon at Lindsay Street Park with Michael Halicki (far left) and several city leaders and partners that made this park a reality!

Lindsay Playground

New playground at Lindsay Street Park

“It gives us hope that now kids have a safe place to play.”
Pat Cambell, English Avenue Resident

English Avenue and neighboring communities have long suffered from flooding due to stormwater runoff, often resulting in the overflow of combined sewer systems. In 2010, Park Pride established a coalition of organizations and community members to create a broad plan, known as the Proctor Creek North Avenue Watershed Basin Vision (PNA Study), that used greenspace and green infrastructure to address the persistent flooding. Since that time, The Conservation Fund has brought the plan to life: Lindsay Street Park is the first park conceived by the PNA Study to come to fruition through the Parks with Purpose Program. Lindsay Street Park represents what is possible when a multitude of partners work together towards positive change. Park Pride is proud to be one of more than 30 organizational partners in the effort that made this park a reality.


Over 30 partners working in collaboration are responsible for bringing Lindsay Street Park to life!

To download the PNA Study completed by Park Pride in 2010, visit For more information about the Parks with Purpose Program and to see a list of the partners involved in the creation of Lindsay Street Park, visit

2016: Activating the Power of Parks



2016 is off to a strong start for Park Pride with many exciting developments expected in the coming year. In late January, the Board of Directors adopted a strategic plan that will guide the organization’s direction for the next three to five years.

When we kicked-off the strategic planning process in the spring of 2015, I entered with the assumption that Park Pride was already doing as much as we possibly could for our city’s parks, greenspaces and communities. But as the months progressed and we continued to carefully examine all of the different layers that make up Park Pride, I’m happy to say that my assumption was incorrect.

After careful thought and consideration, the strategic plan we’ve adopted will deepen our impact in parks and greenspace more than ever before in our 25 year history. We’ve stayed true to our core; we will continue to listen and respond to the needs of communities to advance wins for parks and greenspace. We’ve dug deep to pinpoint the most vital aspects of our work, and we will build on those, adding capacity to accomplish even more.

It begins with our new mission:
to engage communities to activate the power of parks.

It is our belief that great parks have the power to increase quality of life and strengthen the fabric of our city. Park Pride’s efforts in the years to come will focus on helping communities understand the importance of parks and access their many benefits.

Our new strategic plan defines the path by which Park Pride will progress toward our vision of “a nationally recognized network of locally inspired parks, greenspaces and trails that engages individuals, strengthens communities and transforms Atlanta.”

Park Pride’s board and staff are invigorated with the new energy that this plan brings, and we look forward to sharing this journey with you!

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Michael Halicki
Executive Director