Join us for next park study tour, a one-of-a-kind opportunity to explore and examine a parks and recreation system in one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the country.
Through a carefully-curated itinerary, participants will investigate how Austin leverages resources and partnerships to meet its growing demand for access, equity, programming, and connectivity. With such explosive growth, providing sufficient, high-quality parks and programs to all of its residents is a heavy lift.
Confronting Austin’s history of racial segregation along with its rapid gentrification, the Park and Recreation Department, its park partners, and elected leaders, have placed equity at the forefront of decision making and allocation of resources.
Tour participants will learn about Austin’s innovative approaches to tackling these complex issues, which many cities across the country also struggle to address. The tour maximizes networking opportunities with fellow park professionals while hearing from a diverse mix of local voices.
Thursday, April 2nd
The tour kicks off Thursday evening on beautiful Lady Bird Lake, offering exceptional views of downtown, and showcasing successful partnerships between the city and its nonprofit partners. Attendees will experience the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail, a 10.1-mile pedestrian and bicycle trail connecting many of Austin’s parks and open spaces. The Butler Trail provides residents with immersive connections with nature and water while also serving as a major connector in the heart of the city.
Friday, April 3rd
Day two brings us closer to how Austin is confronting difficult history through interpretation and programming in parks, historic sites, and public spaces. Participants will visit the Oakwood Cemetery & Chapel Visitors Center and Rosewood Park – two historically significant sites that provide opportunities for interpretation of difficult and diverse histories of Austin. Attendees will learn about the recently completed rehabilitation of the chapel, which now serves as a visitor’s center and museum. At Rosewood Park, established in 1929 as Austin’s first public park for African Americans, tour participants will learn about how racial segregation was institutionalized in the city’s early years and how the Parks and Recreation Department now works to interpret Austin’s rich and diverse historic and cultural resources.
Saturday, April 4th
The last day of the tour wraps up at Republic Square, which was recently redesigned and developed as a vibrant urban park. Attendees will hear from local partners about how the square provides daily programming, amenities, and a full-service café.
Austin’s robust cadre of park and trail partners are creating unique and sustainable approaches to cross-sector partnerships. Learn about effective partnership advancements, such as the PARKnership Program, whereby community members and business partners can adopt their park, participate in volunteer days, propose enhancements at their local parks, and donate resources.
Natural Spaces and Greenbelts
Learn how Austin is protecting its natural features and connecting its communities via trails and gardens as part of its new long-range plan. See first-hand how Austin ensures that every child across the entire city has opportunities to engage with nature.
Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
Gain knowledge about the city’s creative, data-driven approach to provide access to parks for everyone and the associated challenges of serving diverse residents with differing interests and income levels in order to achieve the city’s ambitious equity goals.
Historic Preservation and Re-Interpretation
Discover Austin’s diverse programming through a lens that explores the city’s history of segregation by way of its parks and public spaces. As the city grapples with its difficult history and its rapid growth, it aims to provide access and programming for all by learning from its past while being proactive about addressing gentrification, equity gaps, and homelessness in the future.