Urban parkland supports a diverse and wide range of users and uses. Parks are a crucial form of ‘nearby nature’ that provide space for activities, recreation, socialization, and engagement with the environment, and support social ties and place attachment. This talk will share insights from the Social Assessment of NYC parks and natural areas that was led by social scientists at the USDA Forest Service working in collaboration with NYC Parks and the Natural Areas Conservancy. This approach triangulates observations of park users, randomized rapid interviews, and observations of signs of human use to measure and describe the use and meaning of these spaces. By reading the landscape for social meaning, we can support management and programming of these sites not only as ecological resources, but as social spaces as well. The social assessment can also be used as a training and education tool to develop a new way of seeing.
Lindsay Campbell, Research Social Scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture