The Problem with Underestimating Fun

My 7-year-old niece recently spent the week us “in the big city” as a mini-vacation and a chance for us all to spend more time together since we’re only able to see her family a few times a year. I asked her what she wanted to do while she was in the Chicago and her answer was “go to a park and ride a train.”  I’m not going to lie – the urban planning geek inside of me was a little proud that the two things that she mentioned were open space and public transportation.  But, in order to fulfill her wishes, I happily promised that we’d make sure that we crossed both of those items off of the list that week.

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Scandinavian Design meets Parks & Recreation

One of the benefits of travel is the opportunity to see things from a new perspective, often reinforcing that for all of our differences, we’re really all the same.  And while most people like to leave work behind when they take a trip, visiting parks and spending time outdoors is something that both my husband and I really enjoy, so luckily traveling to new destinations means that this park nerd gets the chance for both work and play.

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Recreation Results is Growing

For over 15 years, I’ve been fortunate to work in an industry that has a direct impact on creating desirable, vibrant, sustainable, and connected communities. I've tried to spend my whole career emphasizing the value of parks & recreation and helping make local government smarter, more data-driven, and more innovative. 

Through my own work, I’ve seen the power that data & innovation efforts can have to change both the performance & culture of local government.  I've loved having the opportunity to share what I've learned with others in conferences and workshops throughout the country, and throughout the world with this blog.  As a former engineering student who found her way into parks & recreation, there is nothing more exciting than demonstrating how data & systems can help positively impact people.  And even better, it seems as though most park & recreation agencies are starting to be open to it as well, even if they aren't sure how to get started.

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Realizing the Potential of Big Data in Local Government

As much as we hate to admit it, we humans are a fairly predictable bunch. Our habits, routines, and preferences generally remain the same until some external circumstance changes or life event such as moving, getting married, changing jobs, etc. occurs.  (If you doubt me, I would highly recommend Charles Dugg’s book “The Power of Habit” to learn why).

This is why in job interviews, interviewers usually ask a few “Tell me about a time when…” questions. They are trying to learn about past behaviors of the interviewee in order to gauge potential for future success. 

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Igniting Innovation at Our Agency

It shouldn't come as any surprise that government agencies don’t have a reputation for being the most innovative type of organization.  So when our management team determined that they wanted to put resources behind supporting new innovations within the agency, it was important to me that the process itself didn’t include any of the stereotypical bureaucratic red tape either.

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