trendSCAN - March 2019

trendSCAN March 2012


In this version:

  • Did You Know?
  • Signs of the Times
  • Coronavirus and Fresh Air: A Lesson from the 1918 Pandemic
  • Loneliness is Emotional and Isolation is Structural
  • Here Come the Baby Boomers
  • PlayBaries (Play Spaces in Library)
  • Esports Gets Physical
  • Reframing Parks and Recreation
    • Human Need for Parks and Open Space
    • Facilities as a Community Resource
    • Alternative Methods for Delivering Content
  • Takeaways
    • Maslow Reminder
    • Boomer Impact


I have had dreams and I have had nightmares, but I conquered my nightmares because of my dreams.
If you don’t grow new tomatoes, you aren’t going to have much 
marinara sauce in the future.

   Spoken by Dr. Jonas Salk via radio on 3/26/53 when he announced his successful vaccine to treat polio. 


Takeaways for 2020 and Beyond

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.

Maslow Hierarch of Needs

Maslow Reminder.  Most people recall learning about Maslow’s Hierarch of Needs and it is just inserted here to remind us at what level the world is functioning currently and how when life gets back to a “new normal” where on the hierarchy is people, ourselves included will be starting from and how we want to help people progress to higher order needs.

Boomers Again.  While the baby boomers were once the center of commercial activity and success, the passing years have resurrected them to the forefront.  A mental exercise when you are bored or virtually getting together for a staff meeting could be figuring out how to substantially reinvent the senior centers (most anyway) of today into an experience that could attract and enhance the lives of this large group.

Reframing Parks and Recreation

The creative and necessary ways in which products, services, and organizations are reframing, reinventing, re-engineering themselves as featured in the ongoing Emerging/Evolving Models.   Is parks and recreation in need of a reframing or reinventing? 

Human Need for Parks and Open Spaces. 

We’ve seen the examples (mostly via TV) of the large numbers of people who are pouring into parks and open spaces.  It is almost as if sub-consciously people are drawn to the out of doors for the fresh air, sunshine, and visual contact with others.  The health benefits from nature that are especially critical at this time are improved immunity and stress reduction.  Although there are a multitude of other benefits as well.  Please Note:  Accessing outdoor space is based upon state and local government requirements in various geographic areas and any trip outdoors should conform with social distancing.

Facilities as a Community Resource.

Please Note:  It is impossible to cite all the recreation facilities that are stepping up their game during this time of crisis so please forgive me if I have not mentioned your efforts.  Better yet send them along to me at and I’ll make sure you get a shout-out in the April version of trendSCAN OR better yet post them on Linkedin for your colleagues to see and learn from.

  • LA: Rec Centers to Homeless Shelters.  Los Angeles will convert 42 of its recreation centers into temporary shelters for homeless residents which results in  6,000 new beds in an effort aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus, Initial phase that the city is to open 1,600 shelter beds at 13 recreation almost immediately, with beds provided by the American Red Cross, Garcetti said. (LA Times)
  • Rec Center for Homeless Showing Signs of Virus. Cincinnati Recreation Commission serves the homeless. At least one recreation center has been opened for homeless people showing signs of the coronavirus so they can isolate themselves from other people.  Over the Rhine Center is the first one opened as the gym has ten beds and the weight room is staffed 24/7 as a nurse’s station.  (WKRC)

Alternative Methods for Reaching Out

El Cajon, CA’s Virtual Rec Center.  A great place to play with the Online Rec Staff.  Plenty of alternatives as you can do jazz with Angelina; make an origami frog with Carlos, Dribble a Basketball with Dante, and try out Mosaic Crafts with Christine.  What a great way to stay in contact with your residents.  Videos can be secured on their website (Linkedin)

San Clemente Surf Club’s Training Videos offers a virtual training for its participants for juggling, fitness, and running. They also encourage players to write personal reflections on a daily basis.  Players can opt to track and submit running times to their coaches. Walls Township in New Jersey’s Old Bridge Soccer League offers something similar.

Method MMA of Forest Hills, MD live streams its Brazilian jiu-jitsu training to keep clients in shape and help them continue to progress.

Boredom Bags.  The Saugus, MA Department of Youth and Recreation has distributed 170 ‘boredom bags’ to children stuck inside their homes.  Boredom bags include such things as craft kits, toys, and coloring pages.  (NRPA Smart Briefs)

Significant Revenue Source.  According to the Morgan Hill Times (CA), the city manager is concerned about loss of tax revenue in these times and predicted that the loss of sales tax revenue and revenue from recreational programming fees would impact the bottom line.  Question:  When did public recreation become a revenue source for communities rather than a public service?


Did You Know?

Gaming Growing…Growing.  According to Cassandra, Gaming has reached $120 million in revenue and is predicted to rise to $196 billion by 2022 causing all sorts of companies to form partnerships with this industry to reach younger audiences. 

Beaches Going…Going.  The European Union’s Joint Research Center has used satellite images to track changes in beaches around the world.  The study found that one-half of the world’s beaches will reach extinction by 2100 due to severe erosion caused by climate change.

Challenge of Online Homework.  Thirty-five percent of households with income less than $30,000 do not have access to high speed internet (MorningBrew)

Ethnic Groups Live Together.  Census 2020 results are likely to show that America’s population is more racially diverse than ever before as 4 out of every 10 residents are predicted to identify as non-white.  That won’t result in big changes in neighborhoods as the  average neighborhood where white residents live will not be very diverse and  most Black and Latino or Hispanic residents will continue to live in neighborhoods where whites represent a much smaller proportion of residents.  (Brookings)


Signs of the Times

More Women Out-Earn Husbands.  A recent study from TD Ameritrade found that about half of the women indicated that they out-earn their husbands.  A significant generational shift over previous decades.

Amenities Count for Businesses.  Smaller and medium sized businesses looking to relocate check out more medium sized cities with good amenities.  Square, a consulting company for startups, identified Austin and Round Rock, TX for its big-name festivals, diverse arts and music and culinary community.  They also mentioned the Miami-Coral Gables area of Florida for its art deco infused arts scene and Boulder, CO for its appeal to nature lovers, adventure sports enthusiasts, and craft coffees.

Shift in the Economy.  Americans now spend more money at restaurants than they do at grocery stores and food service workers approximate the number of people working in manufacturing.  (The Atlantic)


Coronavirus and the Fresh Air:  A Lesson from the 1918 Pandemic

Please Note:  While the article cited has substantial number of research citations included, this is not to assume that additional research conducted may suggest the same or otherwise but it is worth including with the overall need for people to have fresh air and sunshine in their lives.

Dr. Richard Hobday, an independent researcher working in the fields of infection control, public health and building design is the author of  The Healing Sun.  He shares this information and insight on LinkedIn.  The entire article can be found there along with its extensive list of references.

The flu pandemic of 1918 started a race to find vaccines and treatments, enforced quarantines. and discouraged public gatherings.  Does this sound familiar?  Hobday indicates that there was a technique for dealing with the flu that is little known today that was indeed effective using the outdoors for fresh air. Fresh air, sunlight and improvised face masks seemed to work a century ago and they might help us now.

Open-Air Treatment in 1918 and Beyond

During the great pandemic, two of the worst places to be were military barracks and troop ships. Overcrowding and bad ventilation put soldiers and sailors at high risk of catching influenza and the other infections that often followed it.[2,3]

  • Medics found that severely ill flu patients nursed outdoors recovered better than those treated indoors. A combination of fresh air and sunlight seems to have prevented deaths among patients and infections among medical staff.[1]
  • Research shows that outdoor air is a natural disinfectant. Fresh air can kill the flu virus and other harmful germs. Equally, sunlight is germicidal and there is was evidence it can kill the flu virus.
  • Known as open-air therapy, it became the treatment of choice for another common and often deadly respiratory infection of the time, tuberculosis. Patients were put outside in their beds to breathe fresh outdoor air. Often they were nursed in cross-ventilated wards with the windows open day and night. The open-air regimen remained popular until antibiotics replaced it in the 1950s.

Fresh Air is a Disinfectant

Patients treated outdoors were less likely to be exposed to the infectious germs that are often present in conventional hospitals.  When patients were outdoors, they were likely breathing clean air in what must have been a largely sterile environment. In the 1960s, the Ministry of Defense scientists reported fresh air as a natural disinfectant.[5] Something in it this Open Air Factor, was determined to be more harmful to airborne bacteria and the influenza virus than indoor air. They couldn’t identify exactly what the Open-Air Factor is. But they found it was effective both at night and during the daytime.

Sunlight and Influenza Infection

  • During the First World War, military surgeons routinely used sunlight to heal infected wounds.[9] They knew it was a disinfectant.
  • Placing patients outside also exposed them to vitamin D. Low vitamin D levels are now linked to respiratory infections and may increase susceptibility to influenza.[10] Also, our body’s biological rhythms appear to influence how we resist infections.[11]

Please see the LinkedIn article that includes a long list of references for these suppositions.  The information can be accessed at Linkedin.


Loneliness is Emotional and Isolation is Structural

Sometimes the terms loneliness and isolation are used interchangeably.  In these times of social distancing and social isolation, are loneliness and isolation one and the same?  Not necessarily.

Isolation can lead to loneliness and loneliness can lead to greater isolation, but they are not one and the same.

  • Loneliness is an emotional response to lack of connection and is an emotional issue.
  • Isolation is more physical as it relates to lack of access to connection and it is more of a technical issue.

Loneliness and social isolation can be as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.  The problem is particularly serious among seniors and some young adults. 

The current self-quarantine due to the coronavirus is isolation because it is a physical lack of access to connection.  Self-quarantine aside, why is loneliness and isolation a greater problem today?

  • The average household size in the U.S. has declined in the past decade, leading to a 10% increase in people living alone. That proportion accounts for  over a quarter of the U.S. population
  • Nearly one out of three older Americans now lives alone causing greater health issues.
  • Two in five Americans report that they sometimes or always feel their social relationships are not meaningful, and one in five say they feel lonely or socially isolated

Studies have shown that an estimated $6.7 billion in annual federal spending is attributable to social isolation among older adults. Poor social relationships were correlated with a 29% increase in risk of coronary heart disease and a 32%  rise in the risk of stroke.  Authorities expect the financial and public health impact of loneliness to increase as the nation's population ages.  Source: CareMore Health



Here Come the Baby Boomers

The early versions of trendSCAN featured a significant amount of trend information related to Baby Boomers that cohort of Americans born between 1946 and 1964.  More recently the trend focus shifted to the newer generations taking the American scene by storm such as the Millennials and Gen Zers.

It’s time to zoom in on the Boomers again since they make up a large proportion of the population and most of them are either entering or are fully into a new life stage.  Here are some of the facts about this group:

Second Largest Age Group- Estimated at  73 million, this generation is the second-largest age group after their children, the Millennials

Growth of Aging Americans.  The number of people ages 65 and older in the United States has grown rapidly over most of the 20th century, from 3.1 million in 1900 to 35 million in 2000

Becoming Larger Share.  In 2018, there were 52 million people age 65 and older. Their share of the population grew as well, from 12.4% in 2000 to 16.0% in 2018

Longer Life Expectancy.  Life expectancy at age 65 went from 11.9 years (1900-1902) to 19.1 years in 2010

More Older Adults than Kids Older adults are projected to outnumber children under age 18 for the first time in U.S. history by 2034. 

Still Working.  The majority of Baby Boomers are still in the work force and the oldest among them are staying longer making for the highest annual rate

Source:  US Census Bureau

California Becoming More Like Florida

There are more baby boomers living in California than any other state.  In fact, California will begin to resemble Florida.

Look at these numbers:                    Florida 2017                          California 2030

Total population over 65                  3.93 million                            9.04 million

% of population over 65                   19.3%                                     21%

Total population over 75                  1.76 million                            4.38 million

% of population over 75                   8.7%                                       10%

Source:  2017 American Community Survey, Public Policy Institute of California

Californians still are pretty young. The statewide median age in 2017 edged up to just over 36 years of age. That makes California one of the 10 youngest states in the country. By comparison, Florida’s median age is 42.

Due to the sheer size of California their senior population will be large. There are nearly 6 million Californians are over the age of 65 and that’s more senior citizens than the entire population of Oregon.

While California’s working-age population is projected to grow by about 6% by the mid-2030s, California’s 65-plus population will grow by more than 65%. Over the same time period, the number of Californians younger than 18 is actually expected to dip slightly.

It was once thought that when Californians retired that they would leave the State.  Despite increases in living costs, baby boomers don’t seem to be leaving California in the numbers originally expected. While some are fleeing to more affordable places such as Nevada and Arizona, the vast majority are spending their mature years in the Golden State.

According to an analysis of 2017 census data, on net, California lost about 20,000 seniors to other states and that is less than 1% of its total senior population.

Themes and Priorities

There are a number of themes reported to be in favor with Baby Boomers and many of them have implications for our profession.  Some of those themes include:

  • Health, Vitality, and Wellness
  • Work, Money, Avocation
  • Creative Living
  • Passion, Play, and Travel Adventures
  • Fashion and Beauty
  • Family and Friends
  • Caregiving and Grandparenting
  • Volunteerism and Philanthropy
  • Romance, Love, and Sex
  • Religious Spirituality


Some lesser known facts about Boomers

  • On December 31, 2029, the last of the Boomers will turn 65.The 65+ population segment is projected to double to 71.5 million by 2030 and grow to 86.7 million by 2050. Possibly more than 80 million will be on Medicare and Social Security. (CNN)
  • There’s a widely believed myth that Baby Boomers have a lot of wealth. They don't. Sure, they have more discretionary income than any other age group. However, in 2007, before the housing bubble burst, older households (between 55 and 64) had a median net worth of $266,000. By 2010, that shrunk dramatically (33%) to $179,400. (
  • Boomers financially support their adult children. Almost 60% of Baby Boomer parents provide financial support to their adult children, including living expenses, medical bills and paying off loans. (Forbes)
  • Baby Boomers are the Web’s largest constituency. They make up over 30% of US internet users. They spend 16 hours per week watching TV and 19 hours per week online. (Google/Ipsos)
  • Search and email are the top two online activities among Boomers. A DMN3 survey of online Boomers found that 96.1% use search engines and 94.8% use email. They often use the Internet to research health and wellness information, as well as plan and book leisure trips. (DMN3)
  • Boomers contribute more positive online product reviewsthan other generational groups. They contribute 45% of the total online product opinions and assign 3% more five-star ratings. (Bazaarvoice)
  • Boomers love Facebook. An astonishing 84.9% of Boomers said they use Facebook. (DMN3)
  • Boomers are comfortable with online transactions. Almost 9 out of 10 Boomers have made an online purchase. (eMarketer)
  • Baby Boomers are confident, independent and self-reliant.This generation grew up in an era of reform and believe they can change the world. They went from Hippies to Yuppies. Baby Boomers understand that the world doesn’t owe them anything. They’re not afraid of confrontation and will not hesitate to challenge authority and status quo.

Source: DMN3


Playbaries  (Play Spaces in Library)

A 2017 blog post “Lessons from Ben Franklin” outlined an innovative project for creating play spaces in branches of Philadelphia libraries.  The purpose of the project was to infuse public spaces with playful learning opportunities that enhance children’s cognitive and social development.  One of the underlying reasons for these two sets of skills was the predictions that in the future people would require these types of skills including creativity, cooperation, and the ability to communicate effectively with others as a means to succeed in the future world. 

Enter public libraries as these facilities match closely with the underlying goals of this project. 

What makes libraries ideal for these purposes?  First of all, they are community based and open to the public.  In addition, they have always been associated with knowledge and learning.  They were less well known as places for play but as you take a look at the spaces within these facilities and its assets, it can come to life as the perfect place for ‘playful learning’ for children.

Recall that Joseph Lee, the Father of the American playground movement said that recreation for children was the gaining of life and in this instance the acquiring of skills and asset they need for living in their world reflects that belief.

This Play-and-Learn Spaces project was published in the journal Library & Information Science ResearchThe article told of a new collaboration among designers, community organizations, and child development researchers to move libraries in a new direction.  This group was especially interested in family interaction. That means that the traditional “shhing” warning from library staff will no longer be a part of these interactive, playful spaces.

This project was funded by the William Penn Foundation and researchers and designers worked closely together to observe possibilities within such facilities while assessing the reaction of staff to the use of non-traditional library materials They also involved patrons in identifying the types of spaces that would be useful for playful interactions. 

This project is but one from the broader Playful Learning Landscapes initiative.  Across projects.  the scientific evidence as to how such initiatives contribute to more knowledge among children is mounting. 

Source:  The Brookings Institute


Esports Gets Physical

The latest strategy from the gaming industry is to retain players by offering a physical twist and to bring in new fitness-oriented people with that same fun-fitness strategy.  Ring Fit Adventure for the Nintendo Switch console is the latest entry to this strategy.  Nintendo’s Wii Game  took exer-gaming into the forefront.  They later created a Wii Fit which has maintained its popularity.

What the games feature in the way of physical activity.  Ring Fit Adventure includes a flexible resistance ring that players can squeeze, pull, hold over their heads and these movements are tracked in the game. Players of Ring Fit Adventure indicate that while they are being physically active for the 30 minutes which the CDC recommends for physical activity, the time just seems to zoom by. 

The Virtual Institute of Health & Exercise was founded in 2017 to apply research to help understand the caloric impact of video games.  Applying hundreds of hours of metabolic testing, the equipment at the Virtual Institute of Health and Exercise is the only calorie tracked equipment considered accurate for VR exercising.

Some of the games hide the fitness/physical activity component in approaches such as role-playing, dancing, or running from zombies. It is the purpose of this Institute to identify whether video games can help players get more physical activity through their participation.

The Institute and the Kinesiology Labs at SFSU indicate that games such as Thrill of the Fight,  Knockout League, Beat Saber, and Audio Trip among others are able to burn more calories per minutes than most workout equipment. 

Let the games begin.

Source:  The New York Times.


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