Parks & The Pursuit of Happiness

by Michael Halicki, Park Pride’s Executive Director

flower“I’ve always felt that happiness is the point of life. We Americans are fortunate to have the right to the “pursuit of happiness” enshrined in our Constitution, and nowhere is that right more accessible to us than in our National Park System where we experience it mentally, physically and emotionally.”

Audrey Peterman

Audrey Peterman

These are the words of Audrey Peterman, a nationally recognized leader in the movement to make America’s parksnational, state and urbanrelevant to every demographic group in our population. She believes that public lands are the glue that holds our country together. She is also, I am proud to announce, one of the amazing thought leaders that will keynote Park Pride’s 16th Annual Parks & Greenspace Conference on March 27th, 2017, themed Connecting with Parks.

The quote above is from her October article featured on the Huffington Post titled “National Parks Show Our Steady March Toward ‘Liberty & Justice for All’.” In this article, she continues:

“The great philosopher Joseph Campbell established that when we are out in nature, there is no accounting for the aggregate of ways it affects us beneficially, and today doctors across the country are writing prescriptions for healthy doses of nature to address a myriad of conditions.

As our public discourse becomes more rancorous and debased, I am grateful that Nature, the “product” we have been pushing for the past 20-plus years is increasingly being recognized as a key to a happier, more fulfilled life. In our national parks and wealth of public lands we have the opportunity to calm our minds, to distill essential truths about the development of our country and our shared destiny, and to see clearly our way forward.”

The City of Atlanta and DeKalb County has so many wonderful greenspaces where we’re able to find the solace and happiness that Peterman refers to, right in our own backyard. Our urban parks are places where we can come together as communities to find common ground and fulfillment in the relationships we create with our neighbors.

Blue Heron Nature Preserve

Blue Heron Nature Preserve

For this reason, we at Park Pride are thrilled that City of Atlanta voters enthusiastically supported both the TSPLOST and MARTA transportation referenda at the polls last week. The changes brought by these measures will not just bring the proven health and wellness benefits of greenspace to more Atlantans by increasing access to parks, but they will strengthen the fabric of our city as we become more connected and integrated. Most importantly, however, is that more individuals will have the opportunity to pursue their happiness through greenspace.

We invite you to join us at the Parks & Greenspace Conference in March. You’ll hear more wisdom from Audrey Peterman, learn about innovative ways to increase greenspace from across the country, and recognize and celebrate the ways that parks are making our cities happier, healthier, and more connected! Early bird registration is open and available for the first 75 registrants – register today at

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