Why are parks important? Biophilia.

I was just interviewed by a reporter about parks, especially Ferguson Township’s Tudek Park. Thought I’d share this with you. At a fundamental level, I believe we are all full of what E.O. Wilson calls biophilia, “the urge to affiliate with other forms of life.” When we make a good park where human art, recreation, pleasure, and nature meet, we manage our shared lives for biophilia. We make it easy for people to appreciate rain dripping from a silver maple’s limb. There’s little I can think of as an elected official that’s better than making sure that we have great parks.

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Why in general are parks important? How they improve life for those who utilize them?

Where to even begin? Parks provide common space for us, places for us to be free, places to feel safe, healthy, and close to beautiful things. Within every human being lives someone who wants to feel the rough bark of a hickory, who hopes to have a monarch butterfly land on their hand or watch a dragonfly dart by, who knows that children’s laughter fills us as much as food, who knows that the breeze in flowers, trees, grass, and in our hair makes us better people. We all love to play in beautiful places. Good parks like Tudek get us there.

Research has shown that there’s a connection between access to green and open spaces and health, happiness, lower rates of violence, and longer lives. What’s not to celebrate about that? So on a personal note, I know that I like them and spend time in them. As a policy maker, supporting common-space multi-use parks is obvious.

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