You might not be familiar with VF Corporation, but you certainly know many of its leading outdoor gear and apparel brands: EastPak, JansSport, Napapijri, The North Face and Timberland are only the start. Now, the company is taking on a project that is certainly timely during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis: expanding access to city parks.
According to the nonprofit The Trust for Public Land, almost 1 in 3 Americans – or about 100 million people – lack access to any city parks within a 10-minute walk of their homes. That eye-popping figure includes 28 million children.
To that end, VF is working with The Trust for Public Land to chip away at that disturbing statistic, starting with a $500,000 grant to the nonprofit VF funded through its foundation. The four projects to benefit from this program are for parks and other open spaces in Atlanta (a rendering of which is shown above), Dallas, Denver and Los Angeles. The grants will accomplish a variety of goals, including, of course, the building and expansion of new city parks, expanding greenbelts or commissioning public art. Further, all four of these projects are predominantly located near or in communities of color.
“Over the last several months, we have seen just how valuable parks are to a healthy, livable, and equitable community,” said Diane Regas, president and CEO of The Trust for Public Land, in a public statement. “We know, though, that not all parks are created equal and more must be done to create high-quality parks where they’re needed most. The work these communities are doing across the country is demonstrative of what happens when people are united for a common cause to improve their neighborhoods. We’re grateful for the partnerships that make change happen, including from The VF Foundation.”
According to the City Parks Alliance, the benefits of city parks are more than a place to walk during self-imposed quarantine or for having a picnic outside. The long-term payoffs include the encouragement of more active lifestyles, which can result in lower healthcare costs; a boost to local economies; lower temperatures in surrounding neighborhoods; and cleaner air, which of course is a boost for public health. And now, city parks are a way for cities to improve equity: Historically, while city planners built parks for the benefit of white communities, they also built many of America’s highways through once-thriving Black neighborhoods.
Image credit: The Trust for Public Land
Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010, and became its Executive Editor in 2018. He's based in Fresno, CA, from where he happily explores California’s stellar Central Coast and the national parks in the Sierra Nevadas. He's lived in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, and has traveled to over 70 countries. He's an alum of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California.