These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

March 31, 2017

I wanted to bring some attention to a couple of stories I’ve seen recently that I just love and I think could easily be done elsewhere.

First, the Newnan Times Herald did a story about the small towns in Coweta County.  Maybe I like this story so much because I love small towns and think Georgia has some of the best anywhere, but listen to this great quote:  

“Sharpsburg is like an old, favorite quilt. It smells like your childhood, is worn in all the right places, and still keeps you warmer than any other store-bought comforter.”

The only thing that could make that better is if I could have actually heard Blue Cole say that.

Small town Georgia is the norm, not the exception, with 75 percent of cities under 5,000 in population. And then there are the itty-bitty cities of 500 or less population. What draws people there? What do they like about them? If they weren’t born there, how did they end up there? I’ve heard stories of people passing through a small town, falling in love with the old houses and quaint downtown and deciding then and there to make it their new home. Seems like there are a lot of story possibilities here.
 
The second story is one done by The SunLight Project that brings to light the economic and quality of life benefits of parks and greenspace. The story notes the economic and health benefits of greenspace, as well as the appeal across generations.

I saw an op/ed piece a while back where the author tied greenspace, and the socialization that comes with people gathering in greenspaces, as a way to reduce drug abuse. I don’t know if his hypothesis is true, nor can I find the article again, but it’s an intriguing theory when you consider the opioid epidemic gripping the country.

If you were to replicate this story in your area, I’d also suggest checking the tax rolls to see if properties located next to or near parks/greenspace were valued higher than other properties. That’s one way of showing the economic value of parks and greenspace in actual dollars.
 
What are your cities doing with parks and greenspace? Is there an actual plan they’re working? Are they considering how parks contribute to the economy or are they more health-focused? What about using recreation to address social issues? For example, GMA is working on a story for our paper on an organization that has set up a mini-soccer field for homeless youth and adults at a MARTA station. The games are bringing people together, while coaches provide additional life lessons, such as personal responsibility and job readiness.
 
The power of “play” is pretty amazing! What’s it doing in your community?
Amy

Amy Henderson: ahenderson@gacities.com; Cell: 404-387-0624, Twitter: @amyh_gma
Kelli Bennett: kbennett@gacities.com.; Cell: 404-796-5508, Twitter: @KelliB_GMA
GMA on Twitter: @gacities

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