Style & Substance

If you haven't noticed, 2004 is a political year. And, as per usual, we're being bombarded with a lot of style, but little substance, from both sides of the political spectrum.

Politics aside, I run into style sans substance more often as organizations across the spectrum attempt to communicate their goals with poetic prose and pretty pictures.

The end result is often confusing and leaves those who'd like to help meet the goals -- whether volunteers, sponsors, consumers or the employees charged with actually meeting those goals -- grasping at straws as they try to figure out what, exactly, the goal really is and what it looks like.

The practical application -- or substance, if you will -- competes with a morass of jargon that attempts to synchronize synergies within the context of a meaningful dialogue in a global community that positions the organization in a re-invented paradigm. It's the parallel process of enriching the end-user in a user-friendly venue while impacting a plethora of diverse communities toward a common goal.

That's right... It's really quite simple once you think about it.

That's why it was quite refreshing to put this issue together, and really all of the issues we've published up to this time. We're not perfect, and our interview subjects and contributors aren't either.

However, what is refreshing is the connection they've been able to create between lofty and often abstract goals (such as "connecting people to places") and a reality that actually reflects the goal by effectively communicating and translating its purpose.

In one of many examples found in this issue, George Bellovics, Grand Illinois Trail Coordinator for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Sterling, Ill., mentions the mission of "connecting people to places" through the Grand Illinois Trail.

The full story about the trail and the important connection point in Savanna, Ill., is found on page 26, so I won't spoil it. But the foundation of the story, and why it's so important is this... Those who are instrumental in making this vision come to fruition realize the importance of a noble vision tempered with clear and solid marching orders.

This would translate into a practical application that was easily understood and communicated by each person and organization involved in making it happen. Perhaps the litmus test for a successful project statement is one in which the how outweighs the why.

Our hope is that the article, and all the articles we publish, provides both vision and practicality. Some "jargon" is necessary to communicate, but we will strive to keep it within the context of offering unique and creative perspectives that will help you, and perhaps even entertain.

As always, let us know how we're doing, and how we can dig to the root of these great stories and tidbits of advice provided by parks and recreation professionals. And, let us know what you're doing, how you've solved problems and encountered solutions that have maximized your resources.


Regan D. Dickinson