Park Partnership Engagement and Workshop
Since 2015, City Parks Alliance has been working directly with cross-sector teams in cities, leading a 3 to 6 month planning process to identify their most critical challenges and greatest assets and opportunities related to parks and the partnerships that sustain them. This process culminates in a workshop designed to help park and recreation leaders build skills for effective cross-sector park partnerships, seed replication of innovative ideas, and support new collaborative partnerships.
The Park Partnership Engagement has three phases:
1. Discovery and Reflection:
City Parks Alliance interviews a broad range of stakeholders – nonprofits, city agencies, community groups, and others – and shares a synopsis of findings with a core planning team. This provides an opportunity for partners to learn more about and reflect on the key challenges and opportunities the park system faces, in order to inform the workshop content and design. City Parks Alliance identifies innovative ideas or models from around the country that offer relevant solutions for the host city.
2. Park Partnership Workshop:
These single or half-day workshops convene a broad network of 50-60 local organizations that come together to build relationships and skills, learn about models from other cities, and develop a shared action plan. Workshops are led by professional facilitators and utilize a robust curriculum that includes interactive, peer-to-peer learning designed to help city leadership teams and their cross-sector partners explore new approaches to challenges and jumpstart new collaborations.
3. Implementation and Accountability:
City Parks Alliance follows up with host cities for 3-6 months after the workshop to support the implementation of their action plan and to facilitate continued peer learning with other cities.
Elements of a typical workshop include:
- Guest speakers who share relevant and replicable models from other cities
- Interactive case studies based on real examples from other cities that allow participants to engage and problem-solve with one another
- Core curriculum modules that meet the needs of the host city
- Teaching videos that share relevant partnership models
- Facilitated dialogue to help participants apply learning to their local context, and
- Action planning to identify implementation strategies
City Parks Alliance’s Learning Exchange is focused on strengthening existing partnerships for a single park or a single set of partners. By bringing together public, nonprofit, and private sector partners collaborating in the operations, maintenance, and programming of a park, CPA is able to assist in identifying and reaching consensus on key challenges and opportunities, provide relevant partnership models, and guide partners through the process of implementing agreed-upon changes.
The Learning Exchange has three phases:
Phase 1: Discovery and Reflection
CPA interviews partners, reviews relevant agreements, master plans and other background material, and shares a synopsis of findings with partners. CPA identifies other partnership models from around the country that offer relevant best practices and uses partnership agreements from its ParkXChange Resource Library to help partners identify strategies for strengthening their partnership.
Phase 2: Learning Exchange
CPA works with local partners to identify a model partnership from another city, then connects local partners with their peers from the other city and facilitates a Learning Exchange between the two sets of partners. Local partners use this Learning Exchange to identify and reach agreement on priority changes they need to make to strengthen their partnership.
Phase 3: Implementation and Accountability
City Parks Alliance facilitates regular calls between the local partners to provide them with an accountability framework as they move forward with implementing their agreed-upon changes.
City Parks Alliance’s Skill-Building Workshop is a stand-alone event designed to help participants strengthen skills in a particular area. Participants can be from a variety of cities and organizations. City Parks Alliance has developed a unique core curriculum for its workshops based on what park professionals identify as their most consistent and persistent challenges. Skill-Building Workshops delve into one of these core curriculum areas, which are designed to teach skills in:
1. Principles for Effective Park Partnerships
Based on extensive research into cross-sector partnerships, cross-agency partnerships and collaborative governance, City Parks Alliance has identified ten principles for effective park partnerships. We provide an overview of these principles in a report, Principles of Successful Park Partnerships, and incorporate them into curriculum, interactive case studies, and activities for Park Partnership Workshops.
2. Power-sharing and Collaboration: Strategies for leading change through coalitions
Based on research into change management, collaborative governance and power-sharing, City Parks Alliance has developed a unique curriculum on effective strategies for leading change through coalitions. Managing change through cross-sector partnerships and loosely knit coalitions requires skills in collaborative governance, leading from behind, and power-sharing across sectors. City Parks Alliance has incorporated these concepts into a core curriculum and interactive case studies that highlight effective examples in action.
3. Community Engagement: Building Ownership through Engagement
Through its national network of public and nonprofit park leaders, City Parks Alliance has identified innovative examples and effective strategies for engaging economically distressed and culturally diverse communities in parks and public spaces. City Parks Alliance’s approach to teaching engagement incorporates community-driven creative placemaking, strategies for inclusive economic development, and ideas for consistent and inclusive programming that builds relationships, trust, and community ownership of public spaces.
4. Citywide Park Nonprofits
Recognizing that citywide park nonprofits play a critical role in advancing equity in public space investments, operations, and activation, City Parks Alliance researched the most effective and established citywide park nonprofits around the country and has developed a curriculum for teaching how to establish new and strengthen existing citywide park nonprofits. The curriculum identifies the five core functions of the most effective citywide park nonprofits and keys to success and long-term sustainability of these organizations. It incorporates interactive case studies that highlight effective examples in action.