A “Parks for Monarchs” Partnership

Over the past 20 years, it’s been estimated that the monarch butterfly population has declined by 90% due to the loss of their primary food source, milkweed, from deforestation and development. Park Pride, however, in partnership with dedicated community gardeners, the National Recreation & Park Association (NRPA) and Southwest Airlines, is doing our part to replant and rebuild the monarch’s natural habitat!

With the support of  NRPA’s Parks for Monarchs program, funded by Southwest Airlines, Park Pride supplied four community gardens in City of Atlanta parks with the resources needed to boost their gardens’ ability to support pollinators with the addition of multiple species of pollinator plants.



The largest planting took place at the Freedom Park Poncey-Highland Community Garden where community gardeners worked side-by-side with Park Pride and Southwest Airlines volunteers to install a brand new pollinator garden, complete with 189 locally sourced native plants.



“Our garden,” explained Wendy Marcum, co-leader of the Freedom Park Poncey-Highland Community Garden, “relies on bees, wasps and butterflies for pollination, and because of the help of Park Pride and Southwest Airlines, our pollinator garden is an even sweeter destination for these insects!



Kirkwoods Gilliam Park, Edgewood’s Walker Park and East Atlanta’s Brownwood Park also received plants through the Parks for Monarchs grant, thereby helping to create pockets of monarch-friendly gardens across the City.

For more information about Park Pride’s Community Garden Program, visit bit.ly/ppgardens.

A Journey Towards More Greenspace


The first Steering Committee meeting for the greenway along Memorial Drive.

On May 18th, neighbors, business owners, and nonprofit representatives from along Memorial Drive joined the first Steering Committee meeting of Park Pride’s Park Visioning Program. These dedicated stakeholders have embarked on an eight month journey of community building, negotiating, and stretching their imaginations with the ultimate goal of adopting a community-backed park masterplan.


The second Steering Committee meeting in action.

Led by the Director of Park Visioning, Andrew White, a professional landscape architect, this group will work to articulate the community’s needs for the proposed linear park that wold run the length of Memorial Drive between Oakland Cemetery and the State Capitol. White will then incorporate the community’s ideas into a conceptual masterplan.


The Steering Committee beginning a walking tour of the proposed park space.

The hopes within the Steering Committee for the park are as diverse as the committee members themselves, but a single dream binds them together: that the park, which is tentatively being called the “Memorial Drive Greenway,” will someday be a space that unites neighborhoods and is enjoyed by families and individuals of all ages and abilities.

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For information about Park Visioning, visit bit.ly/parkvisioning.

Park Pride and The Conservation Fund Announce Commitment to Building Community & Parks

CGI for blog

Park Pride’s Executive Director, Michael Halicki, takes the stage at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting as Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announces Commitment to Action.

On June 13, 2016, Park Pride, The Conservation Fund and partners announced a “Commitment to Action” to encourage economic growth and opportunity for those living within Atlanta’s Proctor Creek Watershed at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America Meeting. The neighborhoods within the Proctor Creek Watershed, including Vine City and English Avenue, have long suffered from the negative effects of combined sewer overflows, economic disinvestment, social and educational challenges, and lack of greenspace.

The commitment launched at CGI America to “Build Community with Green Infrastructure & Parks” focuses on the conversion of several blighted urban lots within the Proctor Creek Watershed into a vibrant park to be known as Boone Park West. Further, the commitment proposes additional benefits related to the park’s development—community engagement in park design and construction, education of community residents in green infrastructure solutions, and access to jobs and workforce training for residents—all of which will serve to catalyze economic revitalization for the surrounding community.


The current site of the future Boone Park West.

Boone Park West is part of a larger green infrastructure vision (Proctor Creek North Avenue Green Infrastructure Vision, Park Pride, 2010) that addresses the lack of greenspace and the need for stormwater solutions in the headwaters of the Proctor Creek Watershed. A key component of Boone Park West will be a green infrastructure amenity designed to capture, clean and infiltrate at least 37,000 cubic feet of stormwater from the surrounding streets, mitigating the recurrent flooding that has historically plagued these neighborhoods.

Boone Park West Concept_web

Through Park Pride’s Park Visioning Program, the final park masterplan will be based on the communities’ wants and needs and driven by community input.

Park Pride will facilitate a community-directed process to develop the park masterplan and ensure that the resulting greenspace meets the needs of the communities it serves. The Conservation Fund will support this community initiative, in addition to serving as the lead in property acquisition for all remaining lots. Other project partners include The City of Atlanta’s Department of Parks and Recreation, The City of Atlanta’s Office of Sustainability, the University Community Development Corporation, the Proctor Creek Stewardship Council, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and Greening Youth Foundation.

“Our Commitment to Action recognizes the role parks and greenspace can play in making Atlanta a more sustainable city. We are excited to have this opportunity to connect with the Clinton Global Initiative and thought leaders from around the country and to advance solutions to the challenges facing urban areas across the United States.” Michael Halicki, Park Pride’s Executive Director

Boone Park West will serve as an invaluable amenity to the community, providing residents in Vine City and English Avenue with a place to relax, exercise, play with their families, and meet their neighbors.

“By working in partnership with foundations, corporations, government agencies, other nonprofit organizations, and most importantly, with the local communities, we can meet the needs of area residents. This will be a Park with Purpose, providing environmental, economic, and social justice benefits that improve the health and quality of life for everyone in the Proctor Creek Watershed.”
Stacy Funderburke, The Conservation Fund’s Assistant Regional Counsel & Real Estate Associate


After Mayor Kasim Reed announced the Commitment to Action “Building Community with Green Infrastructure & Parks,” at the CGI America meeting, Halicki had the opportunity to speak directly to what this park means to the future of Atlanta’s Westside. Highlights of this press conference are quoted below.


“[Boone Park West] will increase public access to recreational opportunities, provide jobs and workforce training for residents, improve the environment, restore natural habitat, and act as a catalyst for economic revitalization and job creation.”

“Here’s some more good news… Trust for public land is working with the City of Atlanta to build a new world class 16 acre park, not far from where we are right now. I could not be more excited to announce the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation has committed $2.5 million as a seed grant for the  construction of Mims Park.”

-Mayor Kasim Reed



“In order for public parks to be relevant in blighted neighborhoods like Vine City and English Avenue, they need to be about more than just parks. They need to engage the community, and involve new partners. They need to provide additional benefits through green infrastructure, jobs training, and education. They need to be transformational. Boone Park West takes what we’ve learned from Lindsay Street Park and Vine City Park and takes it to the next level. It’s what the Conservation Fund calls a ‘park with purpose.’ It engages the community as a partner in conceptualizing the park, building the park, and activating the park. It involves an expansive group of partners that continues to build and grow. We are heavily invested in this commitment and this new transformational approach.”

-Michael Halicki, Executive Director of Park Pride


“Mims Park will be the westside equivalent of the Old Fourth Ward Park, for those of you who are from Atlanta, you have seen how that park transformed the neighborhood where it was. We believe the same thing will happen on the westside, that this is a community development project, it’s a sustainability project, that it will provide jobs, and it will solve a flood plane problem that’s been long standing in these neighborhoods. So this is an important centerpiece of what we believe will be catalytic redevelopment on the westside.”

-Penny McPhee, President of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation


Vine City Park Ribbon Cutting – Recap

The Vine City Park Ribbon Cutting that took place on Thursday, May 19 was a wonderful celebration of the teamwork and collaboration that went into making this park a more  useful space for the Vine City community.

Elected government officials and representatives from nonprofit and community organizations participated in the celebration, including: Mayor Kasim Reed; Commissioner of Parks and Recreation-Amy Phuong; Counsilmember Ivory Lee Young Jr.; Chief of Police George N. Turner of Atlanta Police Department; Major Timothy Quiller of Atlanta Police Department; Executive Director of Park Pride-Michael Halicki;  Assistant Regional Counsel and Real Estate Associate, Stacy Funderburke; Linda Adams of the Vine City Civic Association; and Byron Amos of the Friends of Vine City Park.

The ribbon cutting marked the completion of the park’s Phase II developments, which includes acquisition of additional properties doubling the size of the park and allowing for a range of new amenities. Vine City Park (on Atlanta’s westside) now provides an expanded playground, new exercise equipment and green infrastructure features, such as a rain garden, a dry creek bed and a micro-forest, as well as educational signage explaining how these features will help to mitigate the flooding caused by stormwater runoff that has historically plagued the Vine City neighborhood.

Park Pride is proud of the role we played to help the Vine City community articulate their dreams for their park through our Park Visioning program that resulted in a conceptual masterplan for Vine City Park.

See below for a photo recap of the event.

IMGP6492“Greenspace of course is a very vital tool in our communities to help to ensure that we are vibrant, that we are economically stable, that we have wonderful places for adults and community members and children to visit all across the city.” -Amy Phuong, City of Atlanta’s Commissioner of Parks and Recreation.


IMG_8276“One goal of mine is to make sure that everyone in our city, no matter where they live, is within a half mile walk of a park or a greenspace. Today brings us closer to that reality in Vine City and the westside.” – City of Atlanta’s Mayor, Kasim Reed

“Parks bring an endless amount of good to neighborhoods. They contribute to the quality of life for all of us. They strengthen the tapestry that is the City of Atlanta. Greenspace helps cities breath. They add a natural rhythm to our daily routines. They help us slow down in our lives, stretch out, and reflect on our sense of community and the greater good.” -Mayor Kasim Reed


IMG_8286b“The community established a vision for re-purposing this ground, and we’ve done everything we could to grow and develop that vision. We’re in the shadow of new houses that have been built in the last 15-20 years, right around you, stimulated by this park. Residents who have been here for decades, as I have, are not leaving.” – City of Atlanta Coucilmember, Ivory Lee Young Jr.


IMG_8304b“What’s so inspirational about this park is that it has really, truly been a labor of love. It’s been a vision of the community, of the residents, of Byron Amos.” -Penny McPhee, President of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation

“Park Pride has been an amazing partner for this park, and for so many parks in the City of Atlanta. We could not do it without Park Pride.” -Penny McPhee


IMG_8307b.jpg“This park is part of a larger vision. Park Pride developed a vision back in 2010 known as the Proctor Creek North Avenue Green Infrastructure Vision. Since that time we’ve been working with different partners to develop this vision park by park… So, echoing what Mayor Kasim Reed said, you haven’t seen anything yet. This is really just the second park in this larger greenspace vision.” -Michael Halicki, Executive Director of Park Pride


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Vine City Park Ribbon Cutting

Vine City Park, a City of Atlanta Park in west Atlanta (3)


On Thursday, May 19th, the Vine City community, Mayor Kasim Reed and several partner organizations will gather in Vine City Park at 10:30 A.M. to celebrate recent park improvements with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

The ribbon cutting marks the completion of the park’s Phase II developments, which includes acquisition of additional properties doubling the size of the park and allowing for a range of new amenities. Vine City Park (on Atlanta’s westside) now provides an expanded playground, new exercise equipment and green infrastructure features, such as a rain garden, a dry creek bed and a micro-forest, as well as educational signage explaining how these features will help to mitigate the flooding caused by stormwater runoff that has historically plagued the Vine City neighborhood.

The History

The creation of Vine City Park has been a collaborative effort from the very beginning. Community leaders determined to create a park for their neighborhood gained the support of the City of Atlanta and Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation to purchase several abandoned properties. In 2005, Park Pride began working with the community in order to transform these overgrown lots into a community greenspace.  Over several months, Park Pride worked closely with the Vine City community in a collaborative process to create a conceptual master plan or “Park Vision” for the new Vine City Park.

Vine City Park_2004

The Partnerships

This Vision included plans to develop the lots owned by the City into Vine City Park, and to continue to pursue the acquisition of the adjacent properties for a Phase II expansion.  With the continued support of the City and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, as well as Atlanta Renewal Community Coordinating Responsible Authority (ACoRA), the Atlanta Development Authority (now Invest Atlanta), the Waterfall Foundation and Henry Len DeFoor Trust, the community’s vision came to life as Phase I of Vine City Park.  As the community enjoyed the new park, they continued to push forward to achieve their vision of a larger park that would meet the needs of the community. With the help of The Conservation Fund, this dream finally became a reality as the additional properties were obtained.

“Phase II of the redevelopment of Vine City Park would not have been possible without the support of committed park advocates and community partners,” said Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner, Amy Phuong. “Like other cities nationwide, the City of Atlanta’s Department of Parks and Recreation’s public-private partnerships are instrumental in bringing new assets and amenities online in communities like Vine City and throughout the metro area.”

Working closely with both the Friends of Vine City Park and the Vine City Civic Association, collaboration from the following organizations have helped to bring the phase II park improvements to fruition: The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority, City of Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation, The Conservation Fund, Greening Youth Foundation, The Home Depot Foundation, Park Pride, PNC Bank, and U-Haul.

“Vine City Park represents what communities, philanthropists, nonprofits and businesses can achieve working together,” says Byron Amos, the leader of the Friends of Vine City Park.

Demari M

The Green Infrastructure

The green infrastructure amenities included as part of this phase of development place Vine City Park in a vital position amid the revitalization efforts underway on Atlanta’s Westside. “This expansion of Vine City Park is a part of the plan set forth in the Proctor Creek North Avenue Green Infrastructure Vision to address the stormwater issues and the lack of parks and greenspace in the Vine City and English Avenue neighborhoods,” says Park Pride’s Executive Director, Michael Halicki. “Park Pride is pleased that parks with green infrastructure are being held up as a win-win solution. We see Vine City Park and neighboring Lindsay Street Park as models for future park developments across the city.”

Vine City Park, A City of Atlanta Park in west Atlanta (2)

A Park with Purpose

The community-driven process that created both of these new park spaces focused on environmental, economic, and social justice outcomes that support local residents. For example, Vine City Park’s new rain garden, creek bed, and micro-forest were planted with over 620 deep rooted native plants generously provided by The Home Depot, and will help capture rainwater runoff and prevent it from reaching and overwhelming the neighborhood’s sewer system. These features were built in part by four neighborhood residents who received training and employment through Greening Youth Foundation’s Youth Conservation Corps. These layered benefits were supported in part by U-Haul and earned Vine City Park the “Parks with Purpose” designation by The Conservation Fund.

“A park is a place that brings people together, from building it, to hosting events, to simply enjoying it every day,” said The Conservation Fund’s Southeast Regional Assistant, Stacy Funderburke. “Thanks to the vision, dedication and support of all of our partners, Vine City Park and nearby Lindsay Street Park are community spaces that improve the health of the neighborhoods and quality of life for residents – they are truly Parks with Purpose.”

Vine City Park_Park with Purpose


Meet Alexis Haggerty: Park Pride’s New Communications & Development Summer Intern!


Park enthusiasts! Meet Alexis Haggerty, Park Pride’s
Communications & Development Summer Intern!

Alexis has joined us with a Bachelor of Arts in mass communication, a minor in photography, and a certification in nonprofit management from Georgia College & State University. During her time in college, she enjoyed working at the school’s volunteer coordinating center and helped with the student run gardening club.

“I am really excited to help tell the stories of the parks that I value so greatly.”
~ Alexis Haggerty

As the Communications & Development Intern, Alexis will provide support on a number of website and re-branding tasks in addition to helping maintain Park Pride’s social media channels.  Most importantly, she will help us to tell YOUR park stories!

Learn more about Alexis through our short interview below.

Why are parks important?

Parks provide invaluable services to our neighborhoods. They are common areas that help foster community. Great parks promote healthy living, both physically and mentally. Parks are especially important in a place like Atlanta because they provide much-needed getaways from high-stress city life!

Park Pride’s mission is “to engage communities to activate the power of parks.” In what ways are parks “powerful”?

The power comes from the value that the community puts in them. The more widely used a park is, the more power it has in bringing the community together. Parks also allow the people who care for them to take pride in something, so individuals are being empowered as well.

Why is it important for communities to have a voice in their parks? 

Parks are there for the community members, so it is crucial that they are happy with them! If they have a sense of pride in their parks, they are more likely to help maintain that space and spend their time there.

What are you looking forward to the most about your position as the Communications & Development Intern?

I am really excited to help tell the stories of the parks that I value so greatly. Community members do so much to keep their parks in good condition, and they deserve to be recognized. I am looking forward to having a little role in the great things happening at Park Pride.

What’s your favorite local park?

My favorite local park is definitely Piedmont Park. I love lounging on the lawn or taking my pup to make new friends at the dog park. Additionally, the connection it provides to the Atlanta Beltline, the Atlanta Botanical Garden, and all of the restaurants in the area makes spending time there so effortless.

What’s your favorite park activity? 

It’s hard to choose one favorite, but in my opinion, you can’t beat a simple picnic. Gathering friends together, sitting in the grass, and eating good food has to be one of my favorite ways to spend time. Sitting in a hammock under the trees is a close second.

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.