Portland Parks & Recreation Releases First Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland Report

News Article
We have been on a journey to update Portland Parks & Recreation's mission, vision, values, and our equity and anti-racism commitment. This report is the result of two years of listening to and learning from the community.

(Portland, OR) –

Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) has been on a journey to update its mission, vision, values, and our equity and anti-racism commitment. In 2020, we reviewed the way the bureau functioned and explored how we might better serve Portlanders. We put underserved communities at the center of our process and committed to an ongoing cycle of improvement. The new framework, which we’re calling Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland, will transform both the way decisions are made and how things get done.

Two basketball players on a city court on a sunny day. The player with the ball has a red sweat shirt; their opponent has a backwards baseball cap and a blue t-shirt.
Portland Parks & Recreation's mission is to provide equitable access to welcoming places, programs, and services that improve community health and our environment.

After two years of community listening and learning, we are excited to share the inaugural Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland report, featuring:

  • An overview of the work we’ve done with the community to refresh the bureau’s organizational statements
  • The new organizational statements and how they will set the direction for the work we do every day
  • An assessment of how our work contributes to community outcomes and where there are disparities we can address

“I’m so thankful to the many community volunteers and partners who worked with PP&R on this framework,” says Portland Culture & Livability Commissioner Dan Ryan. “The bureau is committed to providing equitable access to its parks, programs, and facilities, and the 2020 voter-approved Parks Local Option Levy has played a big role in pushing those efforts forward.”

Based on community feedback, we know Portlanders want to experience the following in and around their parks:

• Accessible, safe, clean, well-maintained public spaces

• Healthy ecosystems and climate change resilience

• Learning, play, and discovery

• Mental, emotional, and physical wellness

• Community and civic connection

• Jobs that support growth and belonging

A family swim at Ida B. Wells-Barnett Pool in Portland on a sunny summer day.
Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland is an effort to build systems, tools, and a planning framework that links Portland Parks & Recreation's (PP&R) strategy and investments to outcomes in the community.

“PP&R is committed to centering the people most impacted by inequities in Portland’s parks and recreation system,” notes PP&R Director Adena Long. “This includes Black people, Indigenous people, people of color, immigrants and refugees, LGBT2SQIA+ people, people with disabilities, youth, older adults, and people earning low incomes. We know that to create a healthy community, we must make sure all people are served through Portland’s parks and recreation system. That’s what Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland is all about.”

While the newly developed Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland framework holds much promise, Portland’s parks and recreation system has been significantly underfunded for decades, and its public assets are aging.

All told, the system has about $600 million of unfunded repair and replacement work including walking paths, playgrounds, pools, community centers, and various assets beyond their projected service life. 

“I’m committed to exploring a better, long-term, and dedicated source of funding for the City’s parks and recreation facilities,” adds Commissioner Ryan. “In the meantime, the new Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland framework will help guide us toward an improved parks and recreation system.”

PP&R estimates that one in five park assets could need to be removed or closed within the next 15 years without new, sustainable funding. In recent years, several assets have failed and had to be closed or removed for public safety. Visible examples of these include light poles in parks, Columbia Pool, and picnic shelters at Montavilla Park and Woodstock Park.

To meet the community’s needs, the bureau developed the Sustainable Future Initiative. Together, the Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland framework and the Sustainable Future Initiative are driving the bureau toward an equitable and sustainable vision for the future.

You can read the inaugural Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland report online at portland.gov/parks/documents/healthy-parks-healthy-portland-2023-report/download

Four people plant a young tree in a Portland park on a sunny day.
In 2020, PP&R reimagined the way we work. We put underserved communities at the center of our process and committed to an ongoing, iterative cycle of improvement that will transform the way we make decisions and get things done.