In celebration of city parks.

This past weekend, the AIR Adventures team took part in the Hot Chocolate 15K, a popular running race held every January in San Francisco. This year’s race just happened to coincide with one of the biggest storms to hit the Bay Area in decades – and which led to overflowing rivers and downed trees in many areas. In spite of the rain, we enjoyed our time at the race – and are grateful to all the volunteers who braved the elements to put on a great event.

But this entry is not about the race, or even the storm. Rather, it’s moreso about where the race was held: in  Golden Gate Park, in downtown SF.

Nestled in the northeast corner of the city – and overlooking the famed bridge of the same name – Golden Gate Park offers over 1, 000 acres of green, public space in the midst of the hustle and bustle of one of the most densely populated cities in the U.S.. Within the park, visitors can enjoy a variety of activities: from a stroll through the park’s gardens – including the Japanese tea garden and garden of Shakespeare’s flowers; to a rowboat trip on Stow Lake and catching a glimpse of Strawberry Hill in the process; to – as we opted to do this past Sunday – going for a run.

Regardless of the activities in which park visitors choose to engage, the important thing is that the park offers them as a public service. And this, really, is the beauty of city parks – whether in San Francisco, NYC, or Anywhere: they offer an all-to-important haven of peace, quiet, and greenery for urban dwellers.

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It could be San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, or New York City’s Central Park – but this is actually Hagley Park in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand.

When thinking of conservation efforts – like we here at AIR Adventures aim to promote – the conservation and protection of city parks don’t often come to mind. But they, too, should figure into our efforts to protect green spaces. Why?

The non-profit organization City-Parks Alliance highlights five primary value of urban parks, which we summarize below:

  1. Environmental: Parks help create human and energy efficient cities that are the best hope for slowing global warming. As our sister organization, the Alliance for International Reforestation, reminds us: every tree planted helps to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, and fight climate change. City parks are yet another important ally in this fight!
  2. Community: Well-maintained parks promote community engagement and civic pride. Not all urban residents have the financial means to travel to a park like Yosemite or Yellowstone. City parks ensure that all residents – regardless of economic status – are able to experience and enjoy nature. Additionally, parks help to contain urban sprawl, and research shows the reduce crime – leading to safer communities.
  3. Economic: As key pieces of a city’s infrastructure, well-maintained parks can result in measurable health, environmental, and community savings. One example is the city of Philadelphia, which saved an estimated $16 million in public expenditures as a result of storm water management and air pollution reduction.
  4. Educational: Access to parks provides children with learning opportunities that are crucial to their future success and healthy development. The hands-on learning provided through city parks is especially critical for children who would not otherwise have access to outdoor resources, and can help close the educational achievement gap.
  5. Public health: People living near parks have greater opportunities to be physically active by running, walking or participating in other heart happy activities.

 

So while we here at AIR Adventures encourage you to get out and enjoy – and protect – those great vast wild spaces, we also encourage you to visit and learn more about the city parks that may be right around the corner. Because nature should be for everyone to enjoy, whether in sunshine – or the occasional rainy day.

Interested in learning more about global conservation efforts – and how you can help create a healthier planet for us all to enjoy? Then visit the Alliance for International Reforestation now, or just go here to make a direct donation. Thanks for reading!

 

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