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Organizations: Park Pride

 

Parks can transform neighborhoods and nurture communities.

“Parks are tangible and free gathering places in a community,” says Margaret Gray Connelly, executive director of Park Pride, a nonprofit that works with more than 70 “Friends of Parks” groups in Metro Atlanta. “They have a broad, positive ripple effect on their surroundings.”

Parks also bolster business. They create more foot traffic to support commercial activity, and living within 1,500 feet of a park can mean a homeowner’s property value goes up by as much as $10,000.

Since its inception in 1989, Park Pride, with its staff of professional landscapers, coordinates more than 15,000 hours of service with hundreds of volunteers in tracts as large as the 51-acre Maddox Park in Southwest Atlanta and as small as five-acre Little Nancy Creek in Brook-haven.  The organization re-cently broadened its mission to include urban farming and community gardens.

“There are a number of reasons this movement is growing, including Geor-gia’s No. 2 ranking in childhood obesity, and the number of ‘food deserts’ that impact our community’s most impoverished members,” Connelly says. “We’re working in partnership with key stakeholders to develop collective goals and create synergy and cohesion among urban farmers.”

Park Pride brings fund-raising savvy as well as prun-ing shears to these tasks, helping volunteers find more than $9 million in fi-nancing for capital improve-ments including playgrounds, fountains and fitness stations.

The City of Atlanta depends on Park Pride for its sustainability goals, including a public biogarden in West End Park, and the organization also works with Atlanta BeltLine for greenspace maintenance.

“We focus as much on community engagement as the environment,” Connelly says.

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