The Topic: "Parks and open spaces" refers to those areas set aside by the city, state, or federal government for public access and protection of natural resources. Issues relate to the creation, preservation, restoration, maintenance, and best use of these spaces.
The Context: With more than 27,000 acres of parks, playgrounds, beaches and other recreational areas, New York City has the largest city park system in the U.S. (Add to that a state park in every borough, the Gateway National Recreation Area and four botanical gardens.) Yet the city has fewer acres of green space per person than any other major American city, and many neighborhoods lack parks. Community gardens on vacant city lots -- there are more than 750 -- are often the only green oases in low-income, minority communities.
Anne Schwartz is a freelance writer specializing in environmental issues. Previously, she was the editor of the Audubon Activist, a news journal for environmental action published by the National Audubon Society, and an editor at The New York Botanical Garden.