Parks and other public spaces have played an essential role throughout the pandemic. Recently, the Knight Foundation released a report that highlights how harnessing community involvement in design and programming at neighborhood parks, city-wide destinations and nature oases can help propel community development and foster equitable outcomes. This makes public spaces a key component of recovering from Covid-19. These findings make a compelling case for policymakers, funders, and practitioners to prioritize public spaces in seeking to drive more equitable outcomes nationwide – during and beyond the pandemic.

For the report, the Knight Foundation commissioned Gehl — a global urban planning, design and strategy firm — to conduct an impact assessment of seven public space projects in 4 cities that have received $5 million in direct Knight investments plus an additional $50 million in co-funding. Because the spaces range widely – from neighborhood parks to nature spaces to citywide destinations that offer art studios, beachscapes, and more – the study did not aim to compare the spaces against one another but rather to assess their impacts according to four key themes, and overall to life during the pandemic.

The findings revealed that emphasizing community engagement at every stage increased usage, attachment and trust, especially for people of color, with ripple effects that strengthened and improved communities beyond the sites. This could have nationwide implications for our post-pandemic recovery. For details, check out the full report here.

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