Skip to Main Homepage

Asking Intentional Questions

Town Branch Park inclusion planning workshops and sessions. Credit: Eileen Phillips, Town Branch Park.

In Lexington, Kentucky, a world-class park is slated to emerge from what was once a nine-acre parking lot. A diverse group of local leaders, the Town Branch Park Partners, was formed to make sure the project lives up to its mission to be the “community’s living room.” They set guiding principles in a 2019 inclusive park plan that specifies “recognizing the African-American history and other under-told stories connected to the site” and “collectively imagining a park that contributes to the vitality of all people and fosters a sense of belonging.”

They didn’t pluck these principles out of thin air. Instead, they relied on input from a community survey. In addition to connecting with the networks of staff, Board members, and park partners, they reached out to historically underrepresented communities. They provided interpreter services in the top seven languages spoken in Lexington. They arranged in-person outreach for senior citizens and those experiencing homelessness. They placed paper copies of the survey at public library branches. They hosted events where participants could talk over a meal. They got 2,077 responses—double their target.

The survey aimed to gather input on what people enjoy about Lexington’s parks—and what barriers make them feel unwelcome. The community was asked to select from a list of barriers including personal, emotional, and/or cultural safety concerns; lack of transportation; lack of diversity/representation; and lack of physical accessibility. The data the Park Partners gathered is informing Town Branch Park’s design, operations, and programming. And the inclusive park plan helps Town Branch Park to hold themselves accountable to the community input they directly incorporated into their plan.

“Continuing community engagement in the evolving park design has been a multipronged effort focused on providing fun and meaningful ways to encourage a diversity of voices to provide input,” says Executive Director Allison Lankford.

Download PDF

Share this Case Study

Share on mail

Would you like to showcase your own work to embed equity in your infrastructure reuse project?