Park Stories: Douglas Park Advisory Council
On the unexpected warm and sunny Friday last week we got together with Latasha Parchman (pictured above with Angie, CPF Manager of Community Outreach), President of Douglas Park Advisory Council to talk about her new role on the PAC. The back porch of the Douglas Park Field House was the perfect place to enjoy the sun and overlook the park while we talked.
Latasha Parchman has lived in the Douglas Park community for 47 years. She is connected to her community on all sides of the park, and is committed to making Douglas park a place for people who live nearby to enjoy. Latasha saw a need to join the Park Advisory Council when she realized the community was unaware of a lot of the activities happening at Douglas Park. People were feeling left out of what was going on in their own neighborhood.
Initiative, Organization, Communication
Latasha says the success of Douglas Park Advisory Council depends on three things: initiative, organization, and communication. She says “You need to make yourself available. Go way beyond what’s expected.” Her first order of business was to get as educated as possible about the needs of the Douglas Park community and what was happening at the park.
Next, the PAC needed structure. Currently the group is working on creating a strategic plan to prioritize their goals. Members are dividing into subcommittees so each person has a purpose. Latasha wants each PAC member to hone their leadership skills as well, so each committee is organized by a team leader. Latasha says, “That’s what I believe in, organization and leadership.”
Lastly, the PAC wants to make sure that their work is spread throughout the Douglas Park community. They started engaging the neighborhood by sending a survey out through social media. The PAC let people know what the city was planning in Douglas Park, including the renovation of a nearby play lot. Latasha said the community was so excited to learn about this news, and the PAC plans on building their communication platform as they move forward.
The Douglas Park Advisory Council was one of the 2017 recipients of the Chicago Parks Foundation’s Connecting Communities Award. They will use this grant to enhance their Naw Head for Life Reunion this August. Latasha is excited to bring in community partners to this event to support health, local musicians, and good food. She says, “We want to show the Douglas Park community that we support you, no matter what level you are on”. Latasha hopes to provide resources to the community members at this event to help people reach their dreams.
The Naw Head for Life Reunion will be held on August 5th, 2017. The festivities will begin at 12 noon.
Latasha says that everyone should get involved in their local community. She recognizes that it’s hard work but worth the time. As for what’s next for the PAC, she says, "Douglas Park is coming with better things in the future."