How Can I Improve My Park? New Poster Shows Advocates the Way

Thursday, July 17, 2014

It’s a familiar complaint among even the most ardent park lovers in New York City: navigating the road toward effective park advocacy is just too confusing.

But now, through a collaboration of New Yorkers for Parks, the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) and Partnerships for Parks (PfP) there is a guide aimed at lifting that fog: “How Can I Improve My Park?”

The fold-out poster, which features engaging design by Elana Schlenker and colorful illustration by Brooklyn artist Leslie Wood, is designed to help advocates cut through the often-onerous process of advocating for park improvements – from maintenance concerns like litter, broken benches or overgrown grass, to capital projects, like a new dog run or playground, increased signage or better wheelchair access.

Download the full poster here.

“Park advocates contact us all the time to ask: ‘where do I start?’” said Tupper Thomas, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Parks. “It’s a complex process, so we wanted to create a guide that eliminates any of that confusion and makes the process much smoother for those who know their local parks best but may not know how to navigate the city’s budget process. This poster will really empower park advocates from across New York City to make a difference in their communities.”

“This issue of Making Policy Public will make it easier for people, regardless of their backgrounds, to advocate for improvements to their local parks,” said CUP Executive Director Christine Gaspar. “We developed the poster with a focus on reaching underserved communities, who often have less access to resources. As with all CUP projects, this poster breaks down a complex process into a step-by-step guide to meaningful participation.”

"Partnerships for Parks is dedicated to sharing information and opportunities so people can effectively participate in the care and planning of their neighborhood parks and green spaces," said Sabina Saragoussi, Director of Partnerships for Parks. "This publication is an important part of empowering New Yorkers to have a meaningful impact."

“How Can I Improve My Park” was produced after soliciting extensive feedback from park advocates, and those who know the ins and outs of the park advocacy process at each step: community board members, borough president and Council staffers, and Parks Department officials.

In particular, the poster addresses several of the common concerns among park advocates: whom to contact about an issue or desired project, and when. It neatly lays out a course of action – from coalition building and letter-writing, to community board presentations and meetings with public officials. It also clearly describes the difference between advocating for a capital project and a maintenance or staffing issue.

New Yorkers for Parks, CUP and PfP will distribute posters at a free Partnerships Academy Workshop launch event for advocates on July 24 at the Parks Department’s Arsenal headquarters. Speakers at the event will include NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, New York City Council Parks Committee Chair Mark Levine, NYC Parks Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh, and NY4P Executive Director Tupper Thomas. Partnerships Academy is a training program of Partnerships for Parks that supports community-based park groups and individuals to achieve success.

The project is part of CUP’s Making Policy Public initiative, which features foldout posters that use graphic design to explore and explain public policy. Making Policy Public is published four times a year. Each poster is the product of a collaboration of a designer, an advocate, and CUP.

Additionally, the poster complements, an online toolkit developed by Partnerships for Parks and Hester Street Collaborative to help community members understand and participate in the NYC Parks capital process.

Support for “How Can I Improve my Park?” was provided by the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Surdna Foundation, A Blade of Grass, and the North Star Fund, and public funding was provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council.

To order a free hard copy, contact Emily Walker, NY4P's Outreach & Events Coordinator, at or 212-838-9410, extension 314.

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