In July of 2016 DC Gardens ended a 16-month demonstration period of actively promoting gardens and gardening events via monthly e-blasts and social media – because start-up funding had run out. Its thousands of garden photos remain here and on Flickr and its videos onYoutube.
DC’s major green attractions – its outstanding public gardens and parks – are largely unknown to visitors and even to residents. Millions are spent promoting DC’s more famous attractions but that includes just one green one – the Tidal Basin during the Cherry Blossom Festival. (DC’s visitors bureau alone spent $18 million in 2014.)
What’s needed is a comprehensive online directory of DC’s parks and gardens and of local recreational organizations and events (gardening, walking, cycling, kayaking, birding, etc). It would also be a resource to visitors and people considering moving to the area. It might be called “DC Outdoors.”
- Major tools needed for a DC Outdoors campaign have recently been compiled: photos showing off 16 major gardens by month collected by DC Gardens, and web pages for DC’s 350+ parks created by DC Park Rx after extensive research. (Example of a park page.)
- Cities are competing for “greenest” bragging rights. DC boasts of its total square footage of green roof, but those sites aren’t accessible by residents or visitors.
- With the success of NYC’s High Line, cities are also now competing to create their own pedestrian garden attractions, and DC’s 11th Street Bridge Park is one example. Also in the works are the Wharf (a “World-Class Waterfront”), and a lively redesign of Constitution Gardens off the Mall. The Yards Park has already launched.
- New evidence of the benefits of urban green spaces to humans is frequently in the news, as is the importance of moving in fighting our national obesity epidemic.
- Now social media can be used to spread the word at no virtually extra cost. Their use by DC Outdoors would promote green spaces while creating connections between and among the recreational and gardening organizations in the area.
For best results, the DC Outdoors campaign would be conducted by a small marketing team experienced in the outdoors and social media. It could therefore be extremely low-effective. The campaign must be inclusive of all green-space attractions, avoiding the pay-to-play business model of Destination DC.
Public Health: This low-cost health intervention would result in more residents enjoying the physical, mental and emotional benefits of being in nature. More residents would learn about and participate in cycling, running, kayaking, gardening, etc. More residents would grow their own food.
Environmental: More gardening by DC residents means more plants to filter stormwater, provide for wildlife, etc. More residents using parks and gardens would increase public support for those green spaces, resulting in more volunteers, donations, and pressure to improve their condition. And kids who appreciate parks and start gardening are on their way to being environmentally concerned adults.
Business: More visitors and longer visits by others would result from promoting DC’s previously unknown attractions. The city’s appeal to people who love the outdoors would make it more competitive in attracting businesses and qualified employees. DC’s image as a “green” city would be enhanced.
HOW TO HELP
- Spread the word – by sharing this link.
- Residents, ask your Council member to make this happen.
- Local environmental and public-health nonprofits, take a stand with city government.
- Experienced activists in environmental or public-health causes, this cause needs you.