Parks & Re-creation
I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright – Thoreau
I love to run, especially outside. It’s my time to unplug and let my mind debug from the day’s activities. What I have loved most about living in New York these past two years is running through the parks. From Prospect to Central, these places make the city habitable and bring balance to a world of chaos.
But it’s not just the parks that make a city great. It’s the waterfront and the waterways. When I lived in Memphis, I ran along the Mississippi River, thinking of where all those waters had been before they came our way. It was a special place, for everyone in the community felt welcome and it was one of the few times you saw ALL the people of Memphis. It was the heart and soul of the city.
Nature, including parks and waterways, provide recreation and allow us to re-create ourselves at the same time. They give us the chance to stop and breathe in deeply all that is good about life. John Muir once said, “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” Nature gives us the chance to start over and find new direction for our lives.
But does that re-creation stop with each person? Or does nature help our cities to re-create themselves? I’ve learned a lot about urban ecosystems, parks and waterways over the past year and believe it’s the latter. Most importantly, I’ve come to see the invaluable role nature plays within our cities and discovered the many ways where we can foster it.
Parks are vital to the re-creation of cities. They give us fresh air, fresh water and a place where people find nature. Green roofs are another part of that re-creation, turning cities from “grey” to “green.” Capping all types of buildings around cities, rooftops are environments beyond urban parks that create gardens in the sky and help clean our rain and keep storm drains from overflowing with pollution into our rivers. Trees thriving along waterways preserve riverbanks, prevent erosion and garbage into our rivers, and provide shade and habitats for wildlife.
That’s why I am excited about the program FedEx is kicking off this month with the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation. It’s a part of EarthSmart Outreach, utilizing our philanthropic and volunteer support to address environmental challenges special to cities with tools tailored to the urban environment. Grants will help six non-profits re-create and renew six urban spaces across the U.S., leveraging almost 300 FedEx team members to make their communities breathe a little easier.
These grants won’t solve all the challenges our communities face, but they can bring life to our urban areas and help re-create the future for our cities.
I like the direction we’re headed.
During the next three weeks, FedEx team members will participate in a day of service with NFWF’s grant recipients to help clean the Los Angeles River, plant trees in Memphis and Pittsburgh, mentor youth while building a green roof on Randall’s Island in New York City, convert a condemned nursery into a LEED-certified facility in San Francisco, and develop an outdoor-living classroom in Washington, D.C.