trendSCAN - June 2020

trendSCAN June 2020


In this version:

  • Did You Know?
  • Signs of the Times
  • Insight from the Project for Public Spaces
  • Libraries to the Community’s Rescue
  • Americans in a Funk
  • The Four Futures
  • Emerging from the Cocoon, or Are We?
  • Worried About a Second Wave
  • Collegiate Sports
  • Takeways



Please Note:  The timing of this trendSCAN coincides with a resurgence of outbreaks in the virus in a number of states.  For that reason, this information about people’s reactions to a 2nd wave is placed here in front.

Worried About a Second Wave

Over 85% of Americans are worried about the second wave of the virus.  An Axios-Ipsos poll conducted 6/12 – 6/15 of this year revealed the following likelihood of behaviors should a second wave arrive:

  • 85% would social distance
  • 79% would stop gatherings with friends and family
  • 77% would keep a child home from school
  • 73% would only go to grocery stores avoiding other retail
  • 65% would self-quarantine

Source:  Axios



Takeaways, a set of quick comments or questions as to how a particular trend or innovation potentially impacts parks and recreation.  It is featured right at the beginning of every trendSCAN so that readers and innovators can quickly identify trends and ideas and then move on to added insight identified in the body of information.

We’re Relevant and We Need to Shout About It.  On a somewhat regular basis articles about libraries and how they are changing to meet the changing needs of society are widely featured, not so much for parks and recreation.  Similarities:  Both are public; usually have a facility or two and serve the diverse makeup of a community.  It is the differences that merit examination.  Differences:  All people are welcome to enter and stay in libraries no membership or fee required; libraries may have “smallish” fees for specialized programs, but do not charge for their core services. Libraries, a place that many consider book-holding buildings, is often recognized for the role they play in the resilience and life of a community.  How can we better feature the role parks and recreation plays in the resiliency for our community or increase the visibility of the role we play in resiliency?

Outdoors is the New IN.  One of the reasons for the increased popularity for the outside areas in a community is because it is summer, but the more over-riding reason is the isolation related to the virus? Take another look at all the “outside assets” you have which can include walkways and even parking lots and brainstorm now people can use them.

Camping in Public Parks.  Not everyone has a back yard that lends itself to overnight camping.  Can public agencies create socially distanced opportunities for families who would like to try a camp out even in a public park?

Drive-Ins.  Parks and recreation in the modern world put ‘drive-ins’ on the map with their outside concerts, movies night, and even dive in movies at pools.  The need and preference for those opportunities are even higher now.  You may need to introduce reservations to these free events to ensure social distancing, but nothing says you can’t hold two or three viewings of the same movie or similar musical group concerts to ensure as many people as want to attend can do so.

Bike Rentals.  Bikes have become one of the most popular purchases of the pandemic.  Do you have any local hotels that might be experiencing low occupancy that might be willing to open moderately priced rental bicycle concessions near your parks or trails?

Biographical Availability.  Now here is a relatively new term to most of us.  It means people are available at this time in their lives.  With people staycationing or not vacationing at all now is a huge opportunity for parks and recreation to reach out to them. 

Park Balance:  Peaceful and Physical.  You might make suggestions as to which of your parks and open space areas lend themselves to physical activity and those that provide a more peaceful respite for relaxing during these times.

What’s Your Future Story?  As outlined in the Four Futures Framework, there are four alternatives for the story that individuals, organizations, or communities can create for themselves.  Is it going to be business as usual?  A total collapse of the existing system?  A set of rules and regulations for proceeding into the future?  Or a transformation as to how individuals, organizations, and communities’ function?  Might be interesting to see which story your organization or community is telling itself about the future and how your role fits into that story.


Did You Know?

Leaving the City Behind.  Leases in Manhattan apartments decreased by 62% in May and that is indicative of the trend in other metro areas within the country. (CNBC)

Results of Online Learning. The learning rate at which students in grades 3-8 are gaining math skills while learning from home is 50%.  The same students are only experiencing reading gains of 70% during this period of e-learning. (Business Insider)

Billionaires Make Even More.  Since the beginning of the pandemic the wealth of billionaires has increased by $565 billion (Billionaire Bonanza Report 2020)

Sports Go Digital.   According to their study, 36.5 million Americans will watch sports digitally this coming year (emarketer)

State of Mental Health.  Many Americans are feeling isolated and anxious. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that nearly half (45%) of adults in the United States indicated that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to isolation, high unemployment, worry, and increased stress over the virus.

Teen Suicide Among Black Youth. The Congressional Black Caucus called suicide by black adolescents of both genders a crisis as the suicide attempts have increased 73% from 1991 to 2017; the increase by young black men was 122% higher in that same time period.

Women of Color Take the Lead.  Minority women are one of the fastest-growing demographics in the workplace, yet they make up almost half of the lowest paid employees in the workplace.  (

Less Recognized Costs of Reducing Public Safety.  In 2018, 2.8 million workers were directly employed in the “justice, public order, and safety” sector, encompassing the full scope of judicial, law enforcement, and correctional functions performed by federal, state, and local governments. This is over 1.5% of the total workforce; for comparison, less than 1% of Americans are employed in manufacturing cars and parts. Many rural communities have prisons as their main industry and as such serve as the lifeblood of the area.  (Morning Brew)


Signs of the Times

Outside Is In.  Inflatable pools, egg-laying chickens, patio furniture, and trampolines are all enjoying increases in sales. Americans are discovering gardening as if their lives depended upon it. Burpee & Co., a seed company, had the highest sales of any month in its 144-year history in March.  A pool sharing service Swimply (it’s a real thing) reported a 1,200% increase in bookings between February and March. (Morning Brew)

It’s About Voting.  In recognition that making changes in society relate to getting people to the polls, several corporations have implemented changes about voting.  Uber, BlueApron, &Pizza will give employees the day off so they can vote.  Best Buy will operate with reduced hours on voting day and Facebook has promised to help 4 million people register to vote.  (Axios AM)

Fortune 100 Support.  Fifty of the Fortune 100 companies have donated in excess of $2 billion dollar to racial justice initiatives and organizations.  The other 500 have not.  (Axios)

Biographical Availability.  This term is defined at the "absence of personal constraints that may increase the costs and risks of movement participation, such as full-time employment, marriage, and family responsibilities and can contribute to the driving force of many social movements.  McAdam identified this term in 1964 and George Hoberg reintroduced it as a concept that could be fueling the success of social movements currently.  (Morning Brew)

Collegiate Sports. Sports in colleges and universities have taken a big hit.  Forty-three Division One schools have eliminated some of their sports teams and 130 programs have been eliminated across the NCAA. Tennis has been hit the hardest as has volleyball.  The elimination of volleyball has impact upon upcoming Olympic games since most American participants played in college. The Power 5 schools (the biggest conference) are holding the line and of course, the big worry for all schools is football because that is the only sport that generally generates revenue for schools. (Axios Sports)

Bikes are the new toilet paper.  Bike shops can’t keep them in stock and manufacturers are having trouble keeping the stores supplied. (CNN News)

National Football League Apologies.  Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the NFL has apologized via video for the way in which the league has not listened closely to players related to racial inequity. 

Disparity in Education.  One silver lining of Covid 19 might be the willingness of Americans to take a look at and do something about the inequities between predominantly white and predominantly minority schools (Brookings)

Airbnb Sees the Light.   Airbnb saw more nights booked for U.S. listings between May 17 and June 3 than the same period in 2019.  This reflects a similar boost in domestic travel globally. People are not necessarily getting on an airplane, but they do want to break out of their houses.  (Axios AM)

Taking Control of Tourists.  Venice, Italy, once over-run with tens of millions of tourists making it more tourist destination than a city where people live is using the coronavirus as a possibility for reinventing itself.

Muslim’s Holiest Holiday.  Saudi Arabia is considering calling off the Hajj, the sacred Islamic pilgrimage, due to the pandemic.  If so, it would be the first time in 90 years (The Financial Times).  Please Note:  Since the time of this reporting, Saudi Arabia has dramatically reduced the number of people able to attend this sacred event. 

Fewer Children.  The economic recession associated with the virus will likely lead to people having few children. Kearney and Levine find that could mean between 300,000 and 500,000 fewer births next year (Brookings)

Everything Can Be a Drive-In.  The drive-in experience is getting not only a revival but a modern-day makeover.  Everything appears to be able to be transformed into a drive-in setting which explain the rebirth of the actual few remaining drive-ins in this country as well as drive-in concerts, high school graduations and even job interviews.  (Wunderman Thompson)


Insight from the Project for Public Spaces

Naturally, the Project for Public Spaces (PPS) would have insight regarding suggestions for how communities can use the impact of the coronavirus as it relates to public and open spaces. 

People in communities across the country have demonstrated by their heavy usage of open spaces, green spaces, and trails as to the necessity of these public spaces in their lives.  Usage of these types of spaces not only need to be encouraged but offered in all neighborhoods that currently don’t have such options. 

Parks and public spaces are great for physical activity, but they should also offer rest and respite for people as well.  This is especially helpful for parents and first responders.

Taking into consideration the advice from medical sources and the CDC, outside is better than inside for reducing the spread of the virus.  Communities need to seriously rethink local regulations that prohibit such usages.  Using open-air public markets could serve as a platform as to how to offer other more commercial enterprises in the out-of-doors. 

Sidewalks, plazas, streets, and even parking lots can be reimagined as community assets in the open air and space.

Another major take away from the recommendations for rebuilding our communities during the pandemic is equality of access.  Take a look at your community to detect which neighborhoods in the community need greater access to open space opportunities for recreation, physical activity, and the resumption of a normalized life.



Libraries to the Community’s Rescue

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, libraries did as many park and recreation departments did and found new ways to serve their communities. In this article from GOVERNING, the libraries are identified as being centers for  “urban resilience” which is defined by the 100 Resilient Cities coalition, means "the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience." This means that in addition to its core services that public and nonprofit agencies in resilient communities use their resources to contribute to the resilience of a community most especially in times of serious disruptions.

FUSE Corps, a national nonprofit executive fellowship program, brought together library staff and leadership from around the country in  a virtual session to discuss strategies for resiliency. Library staff shared how they are taking action to survive, adapt and grow in the face of the ever-changing needs of their communities.

Some of those findings included:

  • "Libraries are part of the critical social infrastructure in communities," as evidenced by developing multilingual handouts with information on unemployment benefits and rental assistance that librarians distribute as part of a curbside pickup.
  • In California's Alameda County, the library branches have kept public Wi-Fi access open and maintained power to exterior outlets.
  • The Seattle Public Library has kept five branches open strictly for restroom use.
  • During heat waves, Los Angeles County libraries are repurposed as cooling stations. Please Note: Recreation centers and community centers are widely used for these purposes also.
  • The King County, Wash., Library System instituted a personalized financial assistance hotline for small businesses and individuals by collaborating with the Seattle library to provide digital-literacy and other career-related training for job seekers.
  • As the San Francisco Public Library suspended in-person services, its buildings have been repurposed into day-care facilities for children of parents on the front lines of COVID-19 and low-income families.

Redeployment of Staff

  • The San Francisco library is working with the city's Department of Emergency Management to develop a model to redeploy librarians as contact tracers,
  • This same library staff distributes information about face coverings and social distancing and some staff work at food pantries.
  • Some librarians now operate call centers to help coordinate meal delivery to seniors.
  • In Houston, the Public Library partnered with the city's Health Department to repurpose library parking lots as COVID-19 testing sites in the city's most vulnerable neighborhoods. With the support of library staff, more than 20,000 COVID-19 tests were scheduled.
  • This partnership with the Health Department also included libraries supporting COVID-19 hotlines.
  • The Boston Public Library worked with the city's Public Health Commission to identify residential recovery and treatment centers that lacked Internet access and distributed portable Wi-Fi hot spots to bring quarantined community members online.
  • The Alameda County Library plans to deliver materials via bookmobiles,
  • The San Jose, Calif., Public Library will offer curbside pickup at some central locations, combined with a free summer food program.

Reimaging Roles

Up until the pandemic hit, libraries were similar to parks and recreation as they focused on keeping doors open and filling those hours with programming and content. Now leaders are considering how they might use their resources differently.

Self-assessment on the part of individual agencies and professions overall will support these agencies once the pandemic passes making them even more vital for community resiliency.

Source:  Governing


Americans in a Funk

It should come as little surprise that Americans are the most unhappy that they have been in 50 years.  The COVID Response Tracking Study conducted at the University of Chicago found that only 14% of Americans report being very happy.  This proportion is down from the 31% who indicated that they were very happy in the last survey conducted in 2018.  In a similar fashion, 23% of Americans reported feeling often or sometimes isolated and the percentage has shot up to 50% currently.  The results in this survey uses results from the General Social Survey that has been collecting data on the attitudes and behaviors of Americans every other year since 1972.  (USA Today)


The Four Futures

This Four Futures Framework  was developed by Professor James Dator, an important contributor to future studies.  This framework is based upon two truths in relationship to the future: Dator’s framework is founded in two deep truths about our relationship to the future

  • We never know for sure what lies ahead AND
  • Humans make sense of the future as they do the past by telling stories about it

Let’s take a look at the options for those stories to see if we can find a fit for moving forward.  It helps you take a look at the present with fresh eyes. The Four Futures framework says that all the stories we tell about the future fall ultimately into one of four distinct categories:

  • Growth. The systems and ways of being we live continue to develop along their current trajectory.
  • Collapse. Our current trajectory comes to a sudden halt. Our systems and ways of being fall apart.
  • Discipline. New forms of restraint and control are imposed on the present order to prevent collapse.
  • Transformation. Entirely new systems and ways of being are found that transcend the present order.

The Four Futures have also shaped the way we’ve talked about the pandemic. We’ve asked whether this crisis is simply a pause before the resumption of business as usual (Growth). Or whether it’s the moment we finally realize we need to change our ways (Discipline). The story that we’re on the path to ruin (Collapse). But maybe if we seize this moment, it can be the start of something truly amazing (Transformation).

Source:  New World Same Humans


Emerging from the Cocoon, or Are We?

Americans can break out of their cocoons now as all 50 states  in some shape or form are allowing to businesses to reopen, i.e. haircut, clothing stores, laser tap, bowling, etc.

Morning Consult surveyed U.S. adults to determine what types of activities they feel comfortable doing.

  • They are most comfortable eating out (35%), taking a vacation (32%), and going to a shopping mall (31%).
  • They will go with vacations that will likely not require a passport. Americans are least comfortable traveling abroad (13%), going to a concert (17%), or going to an amusement park (20%).

When the same survey asked what kinds of activities, they’ve been up to in the past two weeks. Here’s what we found:

  • 38% of readers have eaten out at a restaurant (not takeout or delivery)
  • 19% have worked in a group office setting
  • 30% have shopped at a nonessential retailer or a mall
  • 33% got a haircut from a professional
  • 52% have attended a gathering of 5+ people

Source:  Morning Brew


What Comes Next?

The ways in which we live, learn, work, and play have been dramatically changed over the last few months and while some of the changes are bigger or received more publicity than others, here are just a few more -sometimes less well recognized.

  • Clean is the New Green
  • No Handshakes or Hugs
  • Sending Kids Off with Sanitizers
  • Masks Way of Life for Many
  • A Distance Economy
  • Curse of Being Big
  • Delivery the New Norm
  • Virtual Dinner and a Movie Dates
  • Sinks and Soap at Entrances Everywhere
  • Extinction of Printed Materials
  • Forget About Buffets
  • Comeback of Drive-in Movies (and anything else that can be formatted that way)
  • Decrease in Public Transportation Use
  • Resurgence in Driving Cars
  • Dream Trips and Vacations Put on Hold
  • Camping in Backyards
  • Major Rethink on Commuting
  • Zoom Rooms in Houses
  • Home Offices now Standard Fare
  • Width of Sidewalks
  • Better Access to Parks and Nature
  • Streets for Pedestrian Use
  • RVs the New Safety Vehicle
  • Housing Density
  • Resurgence of the Suburbs
  • End of the Sharing Economy


trendSCAN is created by Dr. Ellen O’Sullivan for the California Park & Recreation Society.  Ellen welcomes your comments, questions, and feedback and can be reached at