♦ OPENING KEYNOTE with Gil Penalosa
Parks and Other Public Spaces: Creating Vibrant & Healthy Communities for All
Communities around the world are facing challenges including economic uncertainty, pressure around population growth, the effects of climate change, and public health crises. Parks can help to address all of these challenges, while also contributing to local culture and social integration. Using specific examples to focus on the various challenges mentioned above, success stories of parks from around the world and their impacts on local communities will be shared.
An emphasis will also be placed on the importance of community involvement. When evaluating the success of a city, an important measure is looking at how we treat our most vulnerable citizens: the children, older adults and lower income groups. When evaluating a park system, the same tools should be applied. To get an accurate evaluation, we must honestly listen to the community. Citizen engagement is vital throughout the entire process. In order to maximize the benefits that park systems can bring, we must develop broad alliances, with many groups including, elected officials from all levels of government, a multi-departmental public sector staff, universities, civil society, businesses, media, etc. A shared vision and commitment to action are essential to “moving from talking to doing.”
Gil Penalosa is passionate about creating cities for all people; vibrant cities and healthy communities for everyone regardless of age and social, economic, or ethnic background. Gil is the founder and chair of the internationally recognized Canadian non-profit organization 8 80 Cities. Before immigrating to Canada, Gil was Commissioner in Bogota. He holds an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, where he recently was selected as one of the “100 Most Inspirational Alumni” in the school’s history. In 2015 Gil received a Doctorate Honoris Causa from the Faculty of Urban Planning at the prominent Swedish university, SLU. Last year Gil was listed in Planetizen’s Top 100 Most Influential Urbanists.