While there is an abundance of green space throughout Southern California as a whole, not all residents enjoy equal access to these resources. Throughout each of the counties and the Southern California region as a whole an similar pattern exists: Children of color living in poverty with no access to a car suffer first and worst in terms of access to green space and opportunities for physical activity. Health and quality of life disparities follow the same pattern as green access disparities.
The Values at Stake: Why Parks and Recreation Matter
Parks and other green space provide important benefits to people and the environment. The values at stake include the simple joys of playing in the park or school field; physical, psychological and social health; improved academic performance; positive alternatives to gangs, crime, drugs, and violence; and economic vitality for all. Parks also offer conservation benefits: reducing air, water and ground pollution, land conservation, and habitat protection for animals and plants. Additionally, parks play an important role in mitigating climate change and promoting climate justice. Parks promote spiritual values in protecting Mother Earth and her people, and preserving Native American values and Sacred Sites. Parks provide places celebrate cultural, historic, and public art resources. Fundamental values of equal justice and democracy underlie each of these other values.
Accessing the Report
Healthy Parks, Schools and Communities: Green Access and Equity for Southern California is available for download at www.cityprojectca.org/greenjustice, along with a two page summary of the report and shorter reports for six individual counties in English and Spanish. The report in PDF format can be read in an ebook reader using, for example, an iPad and GoodReader. The report is also available here: http://yousend.it/ovLDds.
According to David Fukuzawa of the Kresge Foundation, the “central policy recommendations could apply in communities throughout the country.” “We hope [the report] invites many others to engage in a discussion not just about parks but about the underlying issues of justice and fairness.
Dr. Anthony Iton of The California Endowment wrote of a county report, “Whether you are a parent, concerned citizen, educator, elected official or activist, we hope this report will be useful in your efforts to make your community a healthy environment.”