Giving Compass' Take:

• Shanelle Smith Whigham, writing for Grist, discusses why outdoor-oriented organizations should join the pro-democracy movement to improve equitable access to outdoor space. 

• How can donor capital help underfunded communities get more access and encourage political participation? 

• Read about connecting youth to outdoors with equity.

As the weather begins to warm up (and especially after nearly two months of living under stay-at-home orders), everyone has been looking to get outside. For kids in the Stockyards neighborhood here in Cleveland, that will likely mean heading to the closest thing they have to a nearby “park” — a vacant lot bounded on one side by railroad tracks and a broken-down, chain-link fence on the other.

The neighborhood has come together to create a de facto park using donated benches and picnic tables, and the lot is sometimes mowed, but it’s also filled with weeds; there are no basketball courts, water fountains, or even bathrooms. For thousands of kids across the country, this kind of space is the closest thing they’ll know to a park. One hundred million Americans — including 28 million children — do not have access to a park close to home.

My organization, The Trust for Public Land, is working to change that. Ostensibly, our work is about ensuring equitable access to green space and creating parks, but it’s also about helping people find their voice in our democracy.

In order to ensure that communities across the country have equitable access to parks and other green spaces, we must also advocate for the pathways that determine how and where parks are built. The federal government uses census data to determine how it will distribute its budget of roughly $800 billion every year, including funding for parks. Officials at the local and state levels also rely on accurate census data to secure public funding for parks, schoolyards, trails, and lands, and to make sure investments are happening where they are needed most.

Read the full article about creating equitable outdoor access by Shanelle Smith Whigham at Grist.