Medison city lifestyle

As we close out the summer, as the new Parks Alive Coordinator, I am pleased to report the successful conclusion to Parks Alive 2023. Building stronger neighborhoods across Madison through Parks Alive was a continued interdepartmental effort in collaboration with local nonprofits, organizations and local food vendors across neighborhoods centered around nine parks.

These community-centered events offered an enhanced experience in the parks by providing residents with tunes spun by local DJs as they enjoyed free food and cool treats from local food trucks and Chocolate Shoppe Ice cream on the hot summer days. Family-friendly activities were made available by the amazing contributions of more than 40 of our local organizations and nonprofits. There was also some extra Hollywood magic in the air as films were shown on selected dates in the evening for residents to enjoy.

Although heat waves, rainstorms and air quality issues forced some events to cancel, neighbors had 27 opportunities over the summer to engage with the program and more importantly each other. Attendees reported that their kids counted down the time to head over to their neighborhood park for Parks Alive. One resident said, “On Parks Alive days, I couldn’t keep them in the house if I tried!” Other residents also shared why they love to come to Parks Alive events, “I looked forward to these events as a good excuse to leave the house and have in-person interactions now that I’m retired. It’s nice to socialize and have someone to talk to.”

Fostering strong neighborhoods is an essential part of our public health and safety goals of violence reduction. Public Health Madison and Dane County’s “roadmap” for healthier, safer communities describes the natural outcome for programs like Parks Alive. Residents got the chance to connect with resources but more importantly, have face-to-face time with committed and talented local government staff. Along with Bubba and Cooper, the horses of the Mounted Patrol, residents met and spent time with first responders, park rangers and law enforcement personnel building bridges toward improving government-community relationships. 96.3% of neighbors registered high rates of satisfaction with the program and all of them wanted to see the program continue next summer and even into other seasons. Participants even expressed an interest in an expansion of activities to include cooking classes, tech-based activities, art making and public art and mindfulness activities.