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NCSW Part 5: A Century of Concern 1873-1973: Leisure-time Needs

A Century of Concern
A Century of Concern

Leisure-time  Needs

by Guichard Parris

Underwood, Jordan Associates,

Former  Director  of Public Relations, National  Urban League, New York  City

Leisure Time Needs of Our Future Urban Society

“Work”,  said Oscar Wilde, “is  the  curse of the drinking classes.” That  was almost a hundred  years ago. Today leisure, with its kindred vices of boredom and frustrated aggression, may be the curse of all social classes.

Given a sufficiently  prosperous and coordinated  society, one in which the work week has  already  declined  considerably,  the  answers to  the life and  death  problems  of  the future  have  to  include  ways  to  fill  up  the  extended   week-ends  of  more  advantaged workers,  but  may also have to develop constructive  ways to constrain the frustration of the men and women who are unemployed, especially those living in the core of America’s cities.

The simple fact  is that  vast numbers  of disadvantaged  people are not satisfied with investing their leisure time in TV fantasies or James Bond type thrillers. What they want, since their  daily routine  already  brings them into close proximity  with danger, is some way  to  take  initiative  over  their  own  lives; to  experience  some element  of  personal challenge, and to grow in self-esteem from their leisure activity.

The  lonely  perilous sports  such  as mountaineering,  sky diving, surfing and boating, which afford  great  personal  satisfaction  and achievement for  the more affluent  citizen, are usually unrealizable for the poor man of the inner city; he and his family must still make do with open fire hydrants  in summer, concrete enclosures and hardly any recreational facilities and programs for adolescents and older people.

Too  often  the  consequences  of  this lack of recreational  planning have already been seen erupting  in anti-social behavior and interpersonal conflicts that have helped increase the current crime rate in the United States to an alarming 75% since 1966.

This situation,  dire in its  prediction  for  the future  of our cities, raises some crucial questions. How will society’s traditionally  work-oriented value system adapt to a reduced work  week and perhaps subsidized unemployment?  Even more important, how will the professional  charged with  the  task of creating and supervising recreational  programs re­ vitalize  the  programs  that  now  exist  and  to  what  extent  will federal,  state  and local services be equipped to cope with new demands?

At  present, despite the fact that over $80 billion is spent annually on recreation in the United States,  the quality of many federal, state  and local recreation  programs has been open  to  criticism. Concerns  about  quality  rather  than  quantity, relevance rather  than facility, currently characterizes the efforts of recreational experts who agree that program planning could use some revision, if not some radical rethinking.

One hundred  years of park and recreation  development in the nation has broadened the movement from  the first Eastern commons and plazas to imposing parks and parking systems throughout  the entire country. These changes have taken place concurrently  with our social development. People have moved from rural areas to cities and out again; they have become exceptionally  mobile; they have more money and more leisure time. They are demanding a variety of outdoor  recreation areas to satisfy their many interests.

The  core  areas  of  American  cities  present  deep  seated  and  diverse  problems,  the solution  of which is one of the country’s major challenges, observed Ira J. Hutchinson of the National Recreation Association (now the National Park and Recreation  Association).

In  1969  Assistant Secretary  Samuel C. Jackson  of  the  Department  of  Housing and Urban  Development  in an address before the National Park and Recreation  Association forum in Washington, D.C., strongly stressed the social urgency of adequate recreational planning for the poor and deprived. He urged his audience of professionals and volunteers in  public  and  private agencies to  take  note  that  citizens  in our  communities  think  recreation and park programs are important,  and not “disposable frills.”

“I  hope you realize, as the Kerner Commission did, that recreation programs and park areas rank no less than fifth place in the spectrum of ghetto resident grievances,” he observed.

The Secretary  stressed  the vital role recreation can play in establishing relationships that  contribute  to  group and community  growth  and identity.  His convictions  in this regard were amply supported  by  the findings of the National Advisory Disorders (Kerner Commission) in 1968 which interviewed 1200 blacks and whites in fifteen  cities and four suburban areas of the most crucially disturbed localities coast to coast.

In  four  cities,  after  the  disturbances,  programs  had  been  initiated  to  increase re­creational facilities in ghetto  communities. A month  and a half after the New Brunswick disturbances, local businessmen donated five portable swimming pools to the city. A boat which the  city  used as a recreation  center  was also donated  and towed to the city by private companies.

In Atlanta,  work began on a playground for which area residents had been petitioning for two years.

In Elizabeth, the recreation department  moved a playground closer to a poor black neighborhood.

In Tampa, a former high school coach was hired as director of youth  services for the county neighborhood service centers.

Actually,  the  role  of  concerned  citizens  in  providing public recreational  programs began in  the  United States as far back as 1885. Unfortunately,  although  the history  of this involvement is spotted  with some progressive movement, on the whole lackadaisical developments have failed to keep pace with changes in cultural and social patterns  that occur when one ethnic group moves into a community replacing another.

In 1885, for example, the first efforts  to improve recreational facilities for the underprivileged were led by Joseph Lee, who was shocked to see boys arrested for playing in Boston  streets; George E. Johnson  was moved at  the  pathos  of  the  attempts  of little children to play in the narrow crowded alleys in Pittsburgh.

It is significant that  the recreation movement in the United States began in a reaction to wretched housing, overcrowding and immoral conditions in our large cities at the start of  the  century.  The  consciences  of civic leaders and social workers were stirred into action by the effect of these conditions upon the children and youth living in the blighted neighborhoods.

The decade of the 1890’s  saw the rise of social centers such as Hull House in Chicago. This in turn was followed by major developments in the concept  of “open space” parks that included  playground equipment.  Ironically, however, during this era and throughout the  20’s,  blacks and other  minority  groups were largely segregated from public recrea­tional services, and only minimally served by voluntary organizations.

The  most  hopeful  sign  relating  to  the  needs  of  the  depressed  masses of the  city appeared with the formation  in 1911 of the National Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers, five years after the formation of the Playground Association of America (now  the National Recreation  and Parks Association) in 1906. The Association was the logical outcome  of earlier efforts. The recreation leaders of the nation recognize the Association for the many outstanding contributions  it has made to recreation and the nation.  During  this  era  a  further  expansion  of leisure time  pursuits  became available through  the  founding  of  three  outstanding  youth  serving agencies; the  Boy Scouts  in 1910, the Camp Fire girls and Girl Scouts in 1912. These years were also characterized by a marked expansion in the camping movement.

College and high school athletics advanced, with better facilities available, larger num­bers participating and more effective administration  and control. The inter-mural program gained a sound foothold  about 1914 and made steady progress.

In actual  measure, however,  at  this time  all of  the  attempts  at accommodating  the poor were really geared for the newly arrived immigrants and only secondarily to the movement of blacks from the south  to the industrial centers of the north. But in 1919, a violent race riot in New York’s Harlem finally prompted some recognition of the critical­ly unmet needs of New York’s black population.

During the  depression  years in the 1930s local recreation  budgets were reduced,  but the widespread expenditure  of federal funds for leadership and facilities stimulated the development of services in many communities.

Several  federal  departments   developed  services and  facilities  affecting  the  use  of leisure, among them,  the  National Park Service in the U.S. Department  of the Interior, the Forest Service and the Extension Service of the U.S. Department  of Agriculture, the Office of Education  and  the  Division of Recreation  of  the Office  of Community  War Services in the Federal Security Agency, and the Federal Public Housing Authority  in the National Housing Agency.

World War II caused inevitable adjustments  in recreation  programs and new developments to meet war time needs. Unlike the situation in World War I (1914-1918), responded directly and exclusively by the Armed forces themselves.

With the  advent  of  the  national  defense era  during World War II and  the post war reconstruction  era presented  new opportunities for recreational programs. The desegrega­tion of the U.S. Department  of the Interior  and the City Recreational Board in Washing­ ton, D.C., made it possible for blacks to use recreational facilities in the nation’s capital. Jim Crow restrictions  prevailing throughout   the  mid ’40s  and  ’50s  were finally  struck down  by  the Civil Rights protest  of the early 1960s, which evidenced the deep resent­ment blacks felt toward unfair and restrictive laws and practices.

Looking at expenditures  for recreation  over the past ten years, questions must arise as to  why  the  residents in urban  centers  felt  cheated,  why  programs were considered  irrelevant  by  many  of  those  for whom  they  were created. Total  operating  and capital expenditures  for public recreation  and park increased from $770 million in 1960 to over $1 billion by early 1969. The increased costs meant higher taxes, more bonded debt, and new  local  fees  and  service  charges.  During  that   period  local  governments  acquired 335,376  acres for parks and recreation,  bringing the total available for such purposes to 1-1/2 million acres. By the end of the 1960s the federal government had more than fifty programs providing grants  to state  and local governments for uses relating to parks and recreation.  Similarly,  there  existed  formal or informal city-school agreements in almost every major city in the United States, frequently  making school facilities available after school hours, during evenings, and in rare cases on weekends.

The explanations  of this imbalance are enormously complex. Without question throughout  this  period of complaint  there existed formal and informal arrangements  to keep  school  facilities  open  during  non-school  hours.  Also, semi-public  religious and private organizations supplemented city recreation programs with numerous activities. Instead  of  blaming  administrators  and  practitioners  for  the  inadequate   programs for blacks and other  minorities, some leaders, puzzled by the limited response of inner-city dwellers  to  recreation  services,  blame  “factors  peculiar  to  inner-city  residents  them­ selves.” To these leaders NRPA’s Ira J. Hutchinson,  Jr., has suggested that “the  root  of the problem is the use of inappropriate  or inappropriately  interpreted  principles and guidelines” in the development of these programs, many of which have been and continue to be oriented to middle and upper-middle income groups.

The Kerner Commission has since confirmed  Hutchinson’s view, documenting  in its report  that  the government and the political leaders were unresponsive and did not act on the complaints they heard.

Sociologist  Adam  Yarmolinsky  in a 1968 Daedalus article on “The  Service Society” stressed the need for more “tuning  in” on the part of municipal administrators. “There is no inconsistency  between  analyzing and  organizing urban service as a complex system, and the idea of making separate provisions to adapt  the  system  to  individual needs and demands,”  Yarmolinsky instructed,  emphasizing  the  need for direct community  partici­pation in determining specific leisure needs and implementing programs.

The state of recreation programs for inner-city residents at the time of the racial disturbances  of 1967 in many cases resulted not only from insensitivity to the needs of the  communities,  and  from  consequent  lack  of  proper  planning,  but  from  deliberate efforts  by  state  and  local  governments  to  ignore  protests  made  by  minority  groups through legitimate,  non-violent channels. Bearing this out  the Kerner Commission found that  in Cincinnati  a delegation  of  two hundred  blacks representing the inner-city  community  councils  went  before  the City Council  to  protest  inadequate  neighborhood  re­creation facilities. Only one member had been allowed to make a brief statement  before the Council. This incident had occurred just two months prior to the riots there.

Community action programs founded by the United States Office of Economic Oppor­tunity  formulated  some excellent  summer projects. In addition,  in some cities industry cooperated   in  supporting   recreation   ventures,  including  some  specifically  for  senior citizens. Industry  has participated  far less than  it could have , though  a possible reason might be that in many areas industry  simply has not  been approached. At any rate, the answers to the “whys”  of non participation among large groups of citizens are enormously complex and some questions still await answers despite the proliferation of programs, mentioned above.

Preceding  any  investigations. of  the  issues in  the  planning  and  implementation   of programs for leisure  time  must be a constructive  confrontation with public and profes­sional attitudes  militating  against proposals  which  do not  promise immediate  improvement  in housing  or job  training  for the poor. Such a confrontation would lead toward expanded  political, economic  and social guidelines on what constitutes  minimum human need. Even more compelling, however, is the mandate for direct community  participation in determining specific leisure needs and implementing programs.

Since  1968  a number  of dynamic new approaches  following the Yarmolinsky guide­ lines have surfaced, especially in services to urban youth. The use of indigenous leadership by youth-serving organizations has corroded patterns of planning from the top, which had not encouraged local youths in the construction  of programs designed to their own specifications.

During 1968 and 1969, however, the concepts of youth recreational services expanded as almost every traditional  youth  agency in the country  went about  the creative process of adapting  its formal  programs and  initiating  new services more  appealing  to  today’s youth.

Fortunately, in  that  period  the National Federation  of Settlements  established community  change as its goal, restructured  and  provided innovative programs for  tutoring, self-image building, and drug education. Likewise, the B’nai B’rith  Youth Organizations, the  Catholic  Youth   Organizations,   the  Y.M.C.A.,  Y.W.C.A.,  and Jewish Community Centers began instituting  role playing and sensitivity sessions for youth,  including projects for  protecting  the  environment,  drug prevention  and even in some instances, federally funded programs for the training of young community leaders.

Since 1968 new youth  organizations have been formed,  mainly Aspira in America, an organization which seeks to build self esteem among Puerto Rican youngsters while furthering  their education  and Youth Organization Unlimited, a community  action orien­ted group of over 350 youth  organizations, some of which are being funded  by HEW in four regional workshops on crime and delinquency.

Interest   in  youth   by  the  federal  government  was symbolized  in  the  special White House Conference  on Youth  in 1970. There were recorded  the views of selected youth and  youth-oriented   public  and  private agencies on  foreign and domestic relations; civil rights  for  blacks,  Hispanic  groups,  Chicanos,  Asian Americans and  American  Indians; drugs; poverty; environment; legal services; employment; and the general ethos of Ameri­can Society.

Despite  the  enormous  contributions made by public and private organizations,  it re­ mains  a  fact  that  in  many  cases  leisure-time services for  disadvantaged  youth  play a subordinate  role within programs of higher priority. A comprehensive report, published in 1969  through  the efforts  of William Mirengoff, acting director  of the Job Corps, capped the collective efforts of Operation Retrieval.

The purpose of  O.R., begun in 1967,  was to compile data on the successes and limita­tions of  the  youth  employment  experiments  spun  off  by Manpower Development and Training Acts of 1962.  The data from 55 education  and development projects for youth were  then  assessed by expert  consultants.  It was found  that  recreational  and  cultural enrichment   programs  were  scarce. The  few  recreation   programs  provided  pool,  table tennis, lounges and sport equipment. The few cultural enrichment  programs included trip to  museums,  beaches,  universities  and  tourist  attractions  to  familiarize disadvantaged youth  with  knowledge and  experiences  which the middle class was thought  to take for granted. As noted,  there were few such services, and those which existed sometimes met with  negative community  reaction, were wasting time  and  money  instead  of getting  training  for jobs. Within the program itself  there  was controversy  over the extent  to which recreation  or cultural enrichment programs contributed to employability.  Consequently,  in the project findings no recom­mendations were made for improvements in those areas.

Certainly  the youth  of this generation  have made it clear that they will not settle into a stereotyped  image of wild and pointless rebellion, that  their demands for involvement and self-determination  can no  longer  be channeled  into  meaningless diversions in out­moded  custodial-type  recreation  areas. The energetic response of youth  to the political, social,  economic   and  environmental   issues has  been  matched  in  many  ways  by  the agencies which serve them, and by grass roots and self-help organizations.

Lagging behind  these  innovative  youth   services, and  moving at a disgracefully slow pace, are services designed for the aged of our country. What’s more, little if any con­sideration  has been given to the sideline worker “old before his time”, who increasingly is being terminated  by mandatory  retirement.

It is generally  accepted  that   the  older  person,  in order  to  establish an  acceptable self-concept  based on leisure, a rationale  for the activity on which he bases his  new  or altered  identity,   must  find  identity.   He  must  legitimize  leisure  activity  so  that it is appropriate  for him in terms of traditional  and contemporary values applicable not only to  the  aging but  to  the  population  in general. Hence, for  most voluntary  agencies the goals of senior citizens programs tend  to be similar. These usually include the following: to provide a purpose  for retirement  living; to learn to do what one wishes to do to widen social  contacts   and  maintain  old  friendships;  to  recreate  old  hobbies  and  learn  new interests;  to mix with people who are interested  in you;  to serve other  people if one so desires.

The  voluntary  associations  not  only  provide  the elderly with opportunities for socia­bility   and  meaningful  participation  in  activities  considered  important by  society,  but they  function  significantly  on occasion as pressure groups, seeking certain ends through influencing  other  power  structures,  notably  business and  government.  While numerous voluntary  organizations  serving the  elderly  have struggled  to  maintain  their  goals, it is painfully clear that  the  problems of aging in our society cannot be fully ameliorated only through senior citizens programs, regardless of their quality.

In 1969,  during hearings before  the Special Committee  on Aging of the United States Senate,  it  was emphasized  that  “People  who  work  with  senior  citizens  in a recreation program  find  that  sooner  or later  they involve the whole person in all of his problems: housing,  health,  income  maintenance, transportation,  and  the  like … The  recreation program  cannot  be  stereotyped.” During  the same hearings, recommendations were offered  by  members  of  the  workshop  on recreation  and education.  Several of the recom­mendations follow:

Develop more effective informational programs regarding benefits available to older Americans to insure that those eligible receive services.

Develop employment   and  volunteer  programs  using older  persons  as community service aids.

Provide funds  to local agencies to develop education  and recreation  programs and facilities.

Expand  funds  for getting service to people where they are, i.e. libraries, educational T.V., nutrition, etc.

Provide support  for education  in the use of health services.

Promote  creative  partnership  between government and voluntary agencies for train­ing and implementing  action programs at national, state, and local levels.

Despite  federal  funds  available  through  the  Older  American  Act  of  1965,  and despite  the fact that  nearly a dozen federal agencies have more programs for older people, many  think  that  society  has demonstrated one  of its greatest shortcomings  in providing services to the aging. Donald  Kent observes that  in spite of the recognition  at state  and community  levels of the necessity for  planning to meet  the  total  needs of older  people, efforts   to  obtain  federal  grants  have  been  practically  without   avail  and  have lacked support in most states.

In addition  to the young and the old and the traditional  victims of a faltering economy the unskilled,  black and white,  the ethnic minorities, and newly arrived immigrants there is a new class of people whom W.H. Ferry  refers to as the “liberated margin.” These are people  permanently   sidelined  as  a  result  of  automation and  technological  efficiency. Recent  growth  in the size of the labor-force, along with a reduction  in the labor required per unit of output, has resulted in a scramble among industry, labor, and the government to  adopt   policies  designed  to  reduce  the  labor-force.  Business firms  have increasingly resorted   to  mandatory   retirement   policies.  Labor  unions  have recommended  a shorter work  week,  longer  vacations,  and  earlier  retirement. The  federal  government  in 1961 lowered  the male’s age of eligibility for social security,  partly  in  response to the lack of job opportunities for older workers; and in 1972 discussed lowering it still further.

Ferry observed that the growing inability to absorb workers into the economy will give the  question  of “just  distribution   of resources”  an emphasis it  never had  before. It is noted  too  that  no  economic  theory  provides  for  a “liberated   margin,”  and  that  the pattern  of technological displacement is predicted  by some to be not a transient employ­ment  slump  but  a hardening economic  pattern,  requiring some radical, planned alternatives for  using the  resulting  unchanneled  free time. The new class of displaced workers seems caught in a vise; on the one hand are traditional  negative views toward unemployment and on the other  are national trends toward shorter work weeks, earlier retirement, constructive  use of spare time, and enticements  by the communications media for travel and recreation pursuits.

On  a  more  positive  note,  Harold L. Sheppard  suggests that  to  the  extent  that  an individual’s  “possibilities” are a function  both  of his  personality  and  of what is made available through institutions and the community, the increase in leisure-time can be said to  have provided  a diverse new area for employment  opportunities. It is observed that vast new services and an expanding sector of goods are included in the leisure  industry;. thus,  as  work  makes  leisure  possible,  leisure  can  in  turn  make  other  work  possible. Sheppard  also offers  the  idea  that for the displaced or under-employed worker a major implication  of  “… technological  progress vis-a-vis leisure is the  opening  up  of a new dimension  for  participation  in  citizenship  and  politics for  population  sectors  not  pre­viously very active.”

Current  approaches  to  the  use  of leisure-time have tended  to  consider,  at  least  in theory,  the process aspects of recreation. Planners are beginning to scale down recreation and  cultural  experiences  to  particular  target  locations,  and  to  question  how  current concepts of leisure for the individual match  the life-style of the community.  For inner­ city planners the essence of this trend will have to be programming which avoids insult to existing socio-cultural patterns  and at the same time offering valuable and appropriate services to participants.  This means that  the professional recreation worker needs to take the time to identify leaders in the community  and to seek their advice in formulating and implementing services. He also needs to explore existing centers of community  activity­ the bowling alleys, pool halls, corner grocery stores, movie theaters, etc.- perhaps enlisting the help of the proprietors,  who frequently  have excellent relations with the residents they serve.

Considering  the  shortage  of available land,  particularly  in cities, one  possibility  for making  the  most  of a little  space is the  use of multidimensional  recreation  areas. The multi-use area may serve a larger number  of  people in the community  if it is designed with apparatus which may be moved or converted to accommodate  the needs and interests of varying age groups. Many of  the  past failures of park and recreation  programs have resulted from “thinking too big” -in terms of space, population, and money-while overlooking  uses for  small  spaces and  programs and limited  funds.  Secretary  Jackson suggests that  if  the  success of  park and  recreation  departments   were measured by the numbers  served and the quality  of the service, instead of the amount  of land occupied, “many of our priorities would be literally turned upside down.”

Another  viable  approach   to  encouraging  participation   has  been  the  use of  mobile recreation  units.  Portable  pools have been  set up in some cities; other  cities have used mobile zoos, craft wagons, and portable stages for living drama. The mobile units have the advantage  of  reaching  more  people,  providing an arena for  spontaneous  involvement, getting  maximum  use  and effectiveness  from  available resources, and  substantially  re­ducing vandalism.

In considering the future  with regard to leisure-time, it seems that greater federal participation  will be necessary. In programs for youth  and the elderly , cooperative efforts between government and voluntary  service agencies are indicated. It may be that extensive planning and expenditures for leisure will be viewed unsympathetically  by the public. Nevertheless, federal  planning is indispensable to nationwide participation.  One broad proposal for the government role calls for planning directly  by the Congress, rather than by a new bureaucratic  structure, the use of political machinery to achieve greater utiliza­tion  of resources, and  recognition  that  the  realities of  the  present  economic  situation demand more than the simplistic solutions of the 18th and 19th centuries.

There  is undeniably  a need for analyzing the current  national  perspective on leisure. Recent research indicates  major increases in both active and passive forms of recreational activities  overshadowed that  the benefits of outdoor  recreation,  despite increased participation,  “are not being distributed  more liberally  among  the disadvantaged , as reflected  by income , edu­cation  and  color.”  Reasons  given for  the  disparity  are  the increasingly inadequate  or inaccessible supply, and lack of time.

It is easily argued  that  decent housing and city  planning are essential for even mini­mum well-being, and that  these prerequisites also foster the material productivity  so emphasized in our society. Extending  these factors  to leisure needs, it is similarly argued that  excessive urbanization  and inadequate  transportation facilities deprive the poor citizen of his nominal free time, while overcrowded housing relegates him to the streets for his  amusement.  Senator  Fred  R.  Harris of Oklahoma  notes,  with  regard  to  the  urban poor, that there are requirements for leisure, primarily money for sporting equipment and for admission fees to museums,  concerts,  swimming pools and  other  facilities, and for transportation. These same requirements,  Harris states, while taken for granted by most middle-class Americans, are the very factors which render programs and activities inacces­sible to the poor.

Accessibility  to  cultural  enrichment   programs, parks, and  recreation  areas  must  be gained by extending  services from the inner-cities outward. Furthermore, the concepts of social justice and self-determination  must extend  beyond  present political and economic translations  to experiences  which. fill the spiritual void left by an increasingly automated, technocratic, pluralistic society.

A well-rounded recreation  program requires the use of parks, playgrounds, vacant lots, streets,  backyards, lakes, beaches, and all available land and outer  areas. It requires also the  use of school  buildings; community  houses; gymnasiums; libraries; auditoriums; museums;’ church, club and other  institutional  buildings and the homes of the community. The program needs the support  of church,  civic and welfare organizations; and neighbor­ hood, labor, commercial and industrial organizations; the cooperation  of park, school, recreational  and other government departments; and above all the active support  of the citizenship as a whole.

Undeniably  the necessity for national planning with respect to the leisure needs of the inner city is great. The Ferriss study reveals the outdoor recreation preferences evoked by the socio-cultural  system  through  rewards such as status,  sociability of group activities, value orientations  and  attitudes.  But his study shows that  persons with different  socio­-economic characteristics participate in varying degrees in recreation programs.

As always, the  reasons given for  this  disparity  are inadequacies  of both  supply and dollars. While this may well be the case, future  city planners might be advised to include the  cost-free  prerequisites  that  help to extend  recreation  for the inner city dweller out­ ward from  the inner city, rather  than persist in the traditional  paternalistic  pattern  that extends- service from the outside in.

The improvement  of low  cost  urban transportation extending  the boundaries  of the inner cities to the green of the country-side  would be a valuable and appropriate  service. Also, considering the shortage of available land, making the most of small allotments of space by transforming vacant lots and dilapidated  buildings into miniature  parks could be the beginning of a healthful new trend.

More important than even this, however, is the need for planners now to question how current  concepts  of leisure match  the life-style of the community.  For the social worker or recreational  director this may mean a different  set of concepts and a new role. It could mean a drastic  reversal from  the  role of prescriber to listener:  a role where the profes­sional must take time to identify  the leaders in a given urban community,  and solicit their advice and listen before formulating and implementing services.


Guichard Parris, for many years active in public relations and urban affairs, served for·twenty-five years as director of public relations for the National Urban League. An honors graduate of Amherst College, he  also holds  a  masters degree from  Columbia University. He is a board  member of  the Hospital for Special Surgery of  New York, vice chairman of the Advisory Council of the Columbia University School of Social Work, and board member of the Hillcrest Children’s Center of the City of New York. He is Trustee  of  the Schomburg Collection of the  New York Public Library, a former president  of  the Catholic Interracial  Council of  New York, serves on the national board of the Big Brothers Association of America, and is currently  co-chairman of the Public Relations Committee of Catholic Big Brothers of New York. Mr. Parris is co-author of the recently published book: Blacks in the City: A History of the National Urban League (Little, Brown).

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