The theme of this year’s Friends of the Parks’ annual “Parks as Democracy?” conference is “What’s in a Name?”
It’s a question that students and educators at Village Leadership Academy tackled head on in their ultimately successful, yearslong campaign to change the name of (Stephen) Douglas Park to (Anna and Frederick) Douglass Park.
The students’ advocacy has earned them FOTP’s “Parktivist Award” for 2020, which will be celebrated during the conference’s kickoff lunch from noon-2 p.m. Oct. 16. During the event, students will reenact some of the testimony they presented to the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners as they argued for the name change. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the entire conference will take place virtually.
The students’ presentation will be followed by a panel discussion on the topic of “Parks, Statues, and the State of Our Democracy?” After the panel, attendees will split up into virtual breakout sessions.
The conference continues over the next week with discussions on various topics, including “Defund? Reimagine? Examining Park Investments, Policing, and Park Security Models” (noon-2 p.m. Oct. 17), “DuSable as Chicago’s Founder: What to Make of the Title and Whether it Matters” (noon-2 p.m. Oct. 23), and “CDF What? A Pollution Dump on the Lakefront” (noon-2 p.m. Oct. 24). Discussions are free, but registration is required. For more information and to register, click here.