Seeking Knowledge And Experience In 2010

Editor’s Note: This column, “LBWA” (Leadership By Wandering Around), is based on the premise that, in order to find out what’s going on in the field, a parks and rec leader has to leave his or her desk and “wander around” the area of operations, talk to people, ask questions, and kick around ideas with the individuals in the thick of delivering services to the public. So the author will bring up issues and ask the leaders among the readership to share their knowledge and experiences.

As I write this missive, the calendar tells me it is December 30, a day away from New Year’s Eve, two days away from the first day of 2010. PRB works on a three-month lead-time on material, meaning that by the time you read this column, it will probably be around March 2010.

So I should have been thinking about writing this particular message in September 2009. Well, that didn’t happen; as the saying goes, it’s hard to remember you came to drain the swamp when you’re up to your, uh, posterior, in alligators. In September I was too busy trying to survive 2009 to think about this column in 2010.

So forgive me for being a bit tardy in my thinking, but let me tell you what I’d like to see for LBWA in 2010.

Looking Back

First, let me say I have enjoyed doing this column over the past two years. I see PRB as the trade magazine for parks and rec practitioners. It is all about what we do to help improve our communities, so I see it as a valuable communication tool, and it’s been gratifying for me to write about various activities.

But what’s most fun and valuable as a communication tool is reader response and input, and I thank all who have participated. The responses not only give readers in the field the value of someone else’s viewpoint on a topic, but also let the editor know what readers are thinking and what’s important to them.

Looking Forward

So, for 2010, I would like to see even more reader involvement, to find out what’s important to you. Is there a subject, a problem or an issue you think is common to parks and rec practitioners across

the world? Let me know! Let’s get some opinions, ideas and viewpoints circulating.

Collectively, there is not a problem or issue in this field that someone out there hasn’t already dealt with, successfully or unsuccessfully. That experience is invaluable! LBWA is all about “lessons learned.” If you’ve tried something and it worked (or didn’t work), you can save someone else great wailing and gnashing of teeth by sharing.

We military-types like axioms; in one unit I was in, it was, “One Team, One Fight.” We’re all in this financial, political, ideological crisis together, and we in the parks and rec business are probably facing similar trials and tribulations, no matter where we are. Why not share the misery, which (another axiom) loves company. You never know when one pearl of information you have might be just what someone else needs to break through a major obstacle.

Parks and rec departments are like fingerprints and snowflakes … no two are alike, so there are very few cookie-cutter solutions that will work from one place to another. That makes it even more important to share information.

So, in 2010, I encourage, challenge, and respectfully ask readers to join me in addressing the important issues out there. Ask questions, share experiences, make suggestions. Who knows what we might be able to accomplish if we combine the resources and experiences of hundreds or thousands of parks and rec professionals! First, parks and rec business; next, world peace! One Team, One Fight!

Randy Gaddo, a retired Marine, is Director of Leisure Services (parks, recreation, library) in Peachtree City, Ga. Contact him at (770) 631-2542 or e-mail