Partnerships For Parks Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary

Published on January 27, 2021, 8:16 pm
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Partnerships for Parks (PfP), a joint program of NYC Parks and City Parks Foundation, is pleased to announce its first-ever exhibition, It’s Our Park: 25 Years of Communities in Action.

The online presentation celebrates the program’s 25 years of public service through images that tell the stories of community volunteer groups and the impact they have had on their neighborhoods.

The exhibition will launch on Wednesday, February 17, 2021 from 06:00 p.m. to 08:00 p.m. with a virtual celebration and tour and will remain available, free of charge, through the NYC Parks website partnershipsforparks.org.

With the importance of urban parks and green space laid bare by the pandemic and a fiscal crisis looming, community support of local parks is as crucial now as it was when PfP was founded. At the virtual opening, PfP will explore this parallel with a panel discussion featuring PfP Founder Tim Tompkins, PfP Director Sabina Saragoussi, City Parks Foundation Executive Director Heather Lubov, NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, and other community and agency leaders considering the past and imagining the future of parks.

It’s Our Park: 25 Years of Communities in Action highlights both emerging and long-standing volunteer groups currently supported through PfP’s network. Using photography and narrative sourced directly from New York City community leaders, the PfP staff who work with them, and the NYC Parks’ archives, the exhibition celebrates PfP’s community partners, telling their stories through their eyes and showing the transformation possible when people come together in their neighborhood parks to effect change. Featured photos include moments from the Community Parks Initiative—NYC Parks’ investment in neighborhood parks with the greatest needs—launch at Martin Luther King, Jr. playground in Harlem, community visioning events in which PfP invites local residents to imagine changes in their neighborhood parks and guides them in the process of making those changes happen, and volunteers getting their hands dirty in parks across the city as far back as 1992. Select photos can be viewed here.

“We are excited to celebrate our 25th anniversary with such a moving exhibition honoring some of the many community partners we have been privileged to work with to sustain public green spaces in New York City over the last quarter-century,” said Sabina Saragoussi, director of Partnerships for Parks. “We hope the exhibition also generates thoughtful conversation that will help us all imagine the future of our city’s green spaces together.”

“We are proud to join Partnerships for Parks in celebrating their crucial stewardship and advocacy over the past 25 years,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP.  “This online exhibition highlights their longstanding work supporting communities throughout the city and helping our parks thrive.”

“One of the critical elements that makes Partnerships for Parks so unique and successful is the fact that it is a true public-private partnership,” said Heather Lubov, Executive Director of City Parks Foundation. “We have been honored to work alongside our NYC Parks colleagues and bring our resources to bear in service to our city’s parks. Our goal is to provide guidance to and facilitate productive interactions between local neighborhood residents and their government for the betterment of our city’s park system.”

Founded in 1995, PfP was created to support community groups citywide in caring for local parks and green spaces. It is a little known fact that many of New York City’s parks are actually sustained by volunteers. Dating back to the fiscal crisis of the 1970s, this grassroots activism transformed parks that were once neglected and dangerous into flourishing public spaces. Partnerships for Parks was created to support and grow this movement, which is as critical now as it was then. 

An innovative, joint program of City Parks Foundation and NYC Parks, PfP is in a unique position to mobilize resources from both public and private sectors to champion this work. Over the last quarter century, PfP has grown to support nearly 600 local groups working to sustain 400 parks and green spaces across New York City, typically engaging over 25,000 volunteers annually. Despite the ravages of CoViD-19, PfP succeeded in supporting nearly 500 groups at roughly 340 parks in 2020, overhauling its volunteer program with new safety measures in order to ensure the health of the communities it serves. In some cases, groups supported by PfP shifted gears during the pandemic and began providing mutual aid and various forms of CoViD-19 relief including meals and PPE for front-line workers and people in need, particularly in the hardest-hit areas.

For more details, please visit our website at partnershipsforparks.org or contact tomasia.kastner@parks.nyc.gov.



About Partnerships for Parks

Partnerships for Parks is a unique public-private partnership between City Parks Foundation and NYC Parks that supports and champions neighborhood volunteers by giving them the tools they need to advocate and care for their neighborhood parks and green spaces. More information about Partnership for Parks is available at partnershipsforparks.org.

Generous private support for Partnerships for Parks is provided by The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, TD Bank, Altman Foundation, the Greenacre Foundation, and the MJS Foundation. Public support is provided by the NYC Council under the leadership of Speaker Corey Johnson through the Parks Equity Initiative.

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