Seattle to host international conference in 2023 exploring how parks can transform urban landscapes

“City Parks Alliance” cites Seattle’s commitment to the role of parks in developing healthy neighborhoods

The city of Seattle has been selected by City Parks Alliance to host the organization’s Greater & Greener international urban parks conference in 2023.

The conference, which is expected to attract roughly 1,500 people from 200 cities and 20 countries, brings together professionals and political leaders from around the world to explore the power of public parks to transform urban landscapes. The Greater & Greener conferences are presented every other year by City Parks Alliance.

Seattle was one of 10 cities selected last year to compete to host one of the next three biennial conferences after the upcoming Greater & Greener 2017: Parks Connecting Cities, Cultures, and Generations conference in Minneapolis and Saint Paul.  Denver was named the host in 2019, with Philadelphia winning the honor in 2021 and Seattle in 2023.

“Seattle was selected because it’s showing what can happen when you earn the trust and support of residents for the expansion and maintenance of parks and open space,” said Catherine Nagel, executive director of City Parks Alliance. “It’s one of the fastest growing cities in the United States, but it’s also recognized as one of the most livable cities in the country.”

Greater & Greener 2023 is expected to attract park and recreation leaders, city planning and design professionals, public officials from the health, transportation and public works sectors, neighborhood advocates, funders and innovators. Attendees will tour the Seattle area to gain an understanding of what’s worked for the city while also participating in conference sessions to explore the issues, challenges and opportunities facing today’s urban parks.

“This conference offers benchmarking with peer organizations from around the world and a chance to look at how other agencies are dealing with problems like density and homelessness,” said Christopher Williams, the deputy superintendent of Seattle Parks and Recreation and a City Parks Alliance board member. “We think we have something to share with our sister agencies and that’s why we wanted to host, but the two-way exchange of information is what’s critical. This is an incredibly important conference.”

Barbara Wright, Board of Park Commissioner with Seattle Parks and Recreation added: “Hosting the Greater & Greener conference is a fabulous opportunity for Seattle to share our rich diversity of unique park partnerships and also to learn from innovative thinkers, planners and leaders in parks, health, and transportation who provide park and recreation opportunities in new and emerging ways.”

Seattle, while blessed with beautiful natural surroundings like the Cascade Mountains, Puget Sound and Mt. Rainier, is in the midst of a stunning green space transformation within its city limits. Residents approved creation of the Seattle Park District with its own taxing authority in 2014, providing Seattle with a source of financial stability.

And the city now is in the process of tearing down an elevated highway that has long separated downtown from its shoreline, setting the stage for a 26-block waterfront park with a nine-acre central public space for Seattle’s growing center city. This project is moving forward because of a unique public-nonprofit partnership with Friends of Waterfront Seattle, an independent nonprofit committed to raising $100 million from philanthropic sources for construction and operation.

“Hosting the Greater & Greener conference in 2023 is perfect timing to share Seattle’s new waterfront park with a national and international audience of park leaders and thinkers. The conference will be great for Seattle and great for the attendees,” said Heidi Hughes, Executive Director, Friends of Waterfront Seattle

“We view this project as offering the type of transformational change for the city as did the 1962 World’s Fair,” says Christopher Williams, adding one of Seattle’s greatest strengths is the range of private partners that have stepped forward to support the public park system. In addition to Friends of Waterfront Seattle, those partners include the Seattle Parks Foundation; The Trust for Public Land; Downtown Seattle Association; Associated Recreation Council; University of Washington; Forterra; the Seattle Aquarium; Metropolitan Improvement District, and Visit Seattle.

City Parks Alliance is the only independent, nationwide membership organization solely dedicated to urban parks. It leads and serves a community of diverse organizations, championing high quality urban parks throughout the nation. CPA’s vision is that everyone in urban America will have access to parks and green spaces that are clean, safe and vibrant.

For more information, see www.greatergreener.org or www.cityparksalliance.org.