trendSCAN - September 2020

trendSCAN September 2020


In this version:

  • If there was ever… Takeaways for 2020 and Beyond
  • Did You Know?
  • Sign of the Times
  • CDC’s Recommendation for This Year’s Halloween
  • Societal Issues and Important Data
    • The Less Noticeable Cost of Racism
    • Obesity and COVID 19
    • People Behind the Power
    • Continued Concern About Youth Suicide
    • The New Old Age is Younger
  • The Future of Where We Live.  How Will Cities Change due to the Pandemic?
  • Trends and Emerging Directions Climate Change
  • Answers to the trendSCAN Quiz – at the bottom


trendSCAN Quiz of the Month. 

Google Trends has been watching clothing searches all summer and keeping tabs on consumers’ browsing habits. What we choose to wear reflects how we are currently living.  Can you guess...

  1. The most-searched type of shorts over the past three months
  2. The type of shoes that hit a 10-year low search in May 
  3. The type of dress that hit an all-time high search in July

Zip down to the bottom for the answers.  Special Thanks to Morning Brew for the Questions and Answers

Mayor Stephen Benjamin of Columbia, SC when speaking about the tactical urbanism of Burning Man



If there was ever…a time for parks and recreation to re-position itself that time is NOW.  The pandemic has shot holes in the plans and patterns of most all organized activity within society.  The fires in California, a terrible disaster for residents and the state, means that we must intentionally do our part to become a force against climate change.  Are there parks where we don’t necessarily need to mow reducing both the pollution and costs of such endeavors.  Are there under-used spaces in the community that can be repurposed for pandemic-safe socialization?  Which of our physical activity pursuits can become no cost or low cost to encourage people to remain active and /or address overweight and obese?  We are so about the well-being of people and communities and should make sure our residents are able to benefit from our offerings and people come to think of us in that way.




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. 

Halloween with Parks and RecreationThough the recommendations from the CDC are fairly restrictive to more traditional Halloween celebrations, trendSCAN just knows that many park and recreation agencies will devise a creative way for this celebration.  This might serve as a reminder to create some alternative programming for the upcoming holidays.  Pretty sure Santa won’t be appearing at many malls this year.

Important Social Issues Require AttentionThree of five critical social issues are featured in this month’s trendSCAN .  These issues are opportunity areas for parks and recreation and really within our mandate to address.  The three issues are equity, obesity, and youth suicide.  Pick at least one of these issues and devise an outcome-oriented plan for at least one of them.  These are critical issues for society as well as an opportunity to position our industry as essential.  Consider offering general fitness alternatives, i.e. yoga, aerobics, walking clubs or paths for no charge to enable everyone to participate.  This could be a double win for both obesity and equity.

Sharing OpportunitiesThere have long been neighborhood mini libraries so people can borrow and return books for a while now.  In France, they have expanded the concept to free refrigerators in some neighborhoods reducing food waste providing food for those in need. Can you facilitate some type of sharing opportunity for things people may badly need at this time?

Older Adults – Today and TomorrowMany older adults are experiencing an extended middle age as they remain physically active and engaged with the community.  This is the time to offer programs and services for them as you would for any age adult as there is no overwhelming need to offer anything targeted towards “seniors”.  That approach will shift dramatically as this larger group of older adults will live longer and likely require specialized assistance as they age later in this decade.

Community Design.  Now is the time for parks and recreation to seize upon the chance to become integral to the new re-design of communities.  The new design will include bars and restaurants but also pedestrian-friendly streets, bike paths, and mini-parks.



Did You Know?

Bringing Basketball Hoops Back.  Fort Worth, TX Park and Recreation Department brought basketball hoops back to parks after taking them down in March to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Officials will post signs about hygiene and social distancing. (KTVT-TV Dallas)

Call of the Wild.  Americans are getting outside.  According to a Harris Poll, more than one in ten Americans went camping for the first time in 2020 and one in five visited a national park for the first time. (USA Today)

South Dakota’s Sturgis motorcycle rally in August could be responsible for 250,000 new Covid-19 cases, according to a group of economists, a startling figure that provides an early assessment of the effects of the large outdoor gatherings. (Axios)

Racing to Rising Stock Prices.  Peloton is reducing the price of its ever-popular exercise bike and adding two new products  This reflects its first major expansion for the fitness giant, which has seen its stock surge nearly 200% since the beginning of the pandemic as demand for home fitness equipment skyrocketed.

Abandoned Lot Becomes a Park.  When you take an abandoned lot, plant wildflowers, and include paths and spaces for lounging, what do you have?  Another park space for people such as the park that has recently surfaced in Hillsboro, IL. (The Journal-News)

Saving the Ocean and Reducing Gas Emissions. Newlight with its new production facility in Huntington Beach, CA is using tanks filled with 15,000 gallons of sea water to turn methane gas into a material which they then manufacture into plastic eating utensils. (Fast Company)

Grief Counseling?   To address the myriad of cultural traumas facing people and society today, many wellness practitioners  are now offering grief counseling as part of their practice.  (Wunderman Thompson)



Signs of the Times

Equinox Takes It Outdoors.  The upscale fitness club Equinox recently opened a new fully outdoor gym in Century City, LA.  It consists of 27,000 square feet all outdoors and features all the typical fitness stuff, i.e. treadmills, weights, lockers, etc. The gym is only temporary, though, and only viable in places like LA, where seasons are not as big an issue. (Axios)

Opening Football Practices.  Kansas City Chief fans who filed into Arrowhead Stadium were prohibited from wearing headdresses or war paint. The Houston Texans and the Miami Dolphins remained in the locker room during the national anthem.

No Big Events Anytime Soon.  The majority of ad people and marketers (71.2%) believe it is somewhat unlikely that ‘big in-person’ events such as conventions, large industrial shows, and business events will take place by the end of 2020 (emarketer)

The Fridge is Free.  There is a neighborhood in Paris where local businesses support a common refrigerator as local markets, restaurants, and families leave wrapped food that they can’t use in the neighborhood refrigerator and people who are in need of food come and take what they need.  It was originally started to reduce the 233 lbs. of food that the French waste per person every year.  This compares to 612 pounds of food per person wasted in the United States annually. (OXY)

Streaming Facts.  COVID-19 has rocketed streaming to become the present and maybe the future of content both consumption and creation.  According to Nielsen, streaming among homes outfitted for this activity accounts for 25% of consumers’ time spent with the television. What’s more important is that streaming is very popular among consumers 55 years of age and older which is a great sign of success for most tech related products.

With Few or No Fans in Stands.  College football's first big weekend was mostly stripped of the pageantry at the heart of the game. But the day was memorable for shows of support for the fight for racial justice, according to Associated Press.

  • Louisville players ran on the field before their game against Western Kentuckycarrying American and Black Lives Matter flags, the latter featuring the school's old English "L" in the middle. The Cardinals' helmets also featured decals for BLM and DR 2 to honor recruit Dexter Rentz Jr., who was shot and killed by gunfire in Orlando on April 26.
  • Duke players wore the Black Lives Matter logo on the back of their helmets, and the "D" logos on the sides of those helmets, traditionally white, were black. NBC reported the color change was made in support of the BLM movement, and that Duke intends to wear that design throughout the season.
  • Tidying Up 101. Marie Konda, the tidying up guru, is releasing an online course, Fundamentals of Tidying Up.  The course contains 10 episodes of between 3 and 20 minutes with English subtitles and a cost of $39.99 (Fast Company)



CDC’s Recommendation for This Year’s Halloween

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a list of suggestions for how to celebrate Halloween during a pandemic.  The traditional trick-or-treating did not make the list as it is considered high risk.  Other high-risk activities, according to the CDC, include indoor haunted houses, hayrides and tractor rides with people you don’t live with. It also frowns upon “trunk-or-treats” (when candy is passed out from cars in parking lots) and attending autumn festivals outside your community if you live in a high-COVID-19 area.

  • On the CDC’s list of moderate-risk activities are outdoor costume parades or Halloweenparties; going to a pumpkin patch with hand sanitizer while wearing a mask and maintaining social-distancing rules; and what it calls “one-way trick-or-treating,” where individually wrapped goodie bags (prepared by hands that were washed with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds) are left at the far end of a driveway or yard for visitors to take.



Societal Issues and Important Data

Occasionally, there are social issues that are accompanied by important data reflecting concerns that are critical at this point in time.  In this instance, the following categories are addressed and expressed in a manner that reflects concerns of our times.

  • The Less Noticeable Cost of Racism
  • Obesity and COVID 19
  • People Behind the Power
  • Continued Concern About Youth Suicide

The Less Noticeable Cost of Racism

According to a newly released study by Citi global economists, it is estimated the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has lost $16 trillion over the last 20 years due to the less tangible aspects of racism.

The analysis indicates that there are four important racial gaps for Blacks in the United States:  wages, education, housing, and investment.  The economists believe that if these four gaps had been closed 20 years ago that $16 trillion would have been added to our economy.

If those gaps are closed today, $5 trillion could be added to U.S. GDP over the next five years.  These are the numbers that most closely tie to the GDP gap.

  • $13 trillion lost in potential business revenue from discriminatory lending to Black entrepreneurs, with an estimated 6.1 million jobs not generated as a result.
  • $2.7 trillion in income lost because of disparities in wages.
  • $218 billion lost because of discrimination in housing credit.
  • $90 billion to $113 billion in lifetime income lost from discrimination in access to higher education.

Obesity and COVID 19. 

If you put together two factors, obesity and COVID 19, it results in a pandemic on top of an epidemic.  According to the Partnership for a Healthy America,

  • 4% of Americans were obese in 2018 an increase of 30.5% from 2008; truly an epidemic 

A meta-analysis of obesity and covid reveals that if a person was obese, they were

  • 113% more likely to be hospitalized for Covid;
  • 74% to find themselves in intensive care,
  • and 48% more likely to die from Covid



People Behind the Power

The New York Times created a project called “Faces of Power.  The idea behind this project was to determine the diversity makeup of people in government and public life.  The following include some of those findings.  There are

  • 24 people lead the Trump administration,  3 are Asian, Black or Hispanic.
  • 9 justices sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, 2 are Black or Hispanic.
  • 100 people write laws in the Senate,  9 are Asian, Black or Hispanic.
  • 431 people currently write laws in the House of Representatives,  112 are Asian, Black, Hispanic, Native American, or otherwise identify as a person of color.
  • 50 people are state governors, 3 are Asian, Hispanic or Native American.
  • 8 men are military chiefs,  1 is Black.
  • 25 people command the largest police forces, 14 are Black or Hispanic.


  • 29 prosecutors charge people with crimes in those jurisdictions, 12 are Asian, Black or Hispanic.



Continued Concern about Youth Suicide

We have included information in trendSCAN previously about the increases in suicide in general and the increase in suicide among young people in particular.  According to the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rates of suicide among youth aged 10 to 24 increased almost 60% from 2007 to 2018.  Forty-two of the fifty states have reported significant increases in this trend.

Researchers are naturally concerned that this has resulted in an important public health issue as exemplified by the following stats:

  • The states with the highest rates of suicide for this age group include Alaska (31.4 per 100,000); South Dakota (23.6); Montana (23.2); Wyoming (20.5); and New Mexico (19.6)
  • The states with the lowest proportion of suicides for this age group are all in the Northeast with New Jersey (5.7 per 100,000); Rhode Island (5.9); New York (5.9); Connecticut (6.3); and Massachusetts (6.4)

Even states with the lowest levels have had significant increases as evidenced by the New Jersey increase of 39%; New York’s approximate 44%; and Massachusetts at almost 64%.

The Status in California

A 2019 national report from America’s Health Rankings indicates that the suicide rate by young adults 15 – 19 years of age in California has increased 34% since 2016.  This compares with a national average for this same age group and time period of 25%  (Orange County Daily Bulletin)

Please Note:  Due to variations among reporting sources, the years included and age groups featured are not always identical.  It is not unusual for the specific data to differ.



The New Old Age is Younger

A new study performed by researchers at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, compared the physical and mental performances of a group of subjects between 75 and 80 years old to a similarly aged group back in the 1990s.

The study finds that the physical and cognitive ability of today’s older people has improved meaningfully over the past 30 years.  Some of the results from this study

  • Found that muscle strength, walking speed, reactions, verbal fluency, and memory were all better now among the elderly subjects they studied.
  • The essential conclusion was that older people today look, act and think younger than their counterparts from nearly 30 years ago.

How Did It Happen?

The major difference between the two cohorts seemed to be the environments in which they grew up and grew older.

  • More activity over a lifetime meant that today's seniors were stronger and faster
  • Generally higher levels of education translated into superior cognitive performance.
  • The results suggest increasing life expectancy also means more years of higher-quality life

The older adults of today have an extended “middle age”

Why It’s Important?

With the population of the elderly set to increase dramatically over the next several decades, their health and well-being are more important than ever. New research shows that rapid decline isn't necessarily a given.

However, those extra high-quality years in the middle add up, but they also mean that the last years of life are now more likely to occur in very old age, increasing the need for expensive and extensive care.



The Future of Where We Live.  How Will Cities Change due to the Pandemic?

There is little doubt that the pandemic has changed life in this country and globally.  One essential way life will change relates to where people choose to or have to live.  The pandemic has dramatically altered our urban areas, impacted life in suburbia, and influenced life in rural America as well.

How do we know?  The following information and comments come from  part one of a two-part article written by William Fulton of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research in Houston.  The Kinder Institute engages civic and political leaders to implement solutions to critical urban issues, including education, governance, housing, mobility and transportation, resilience, and demographics. Fulton was a former mayor in a California city.

Fulton’s comments and insights include the following:

  • Cities have helped create the space for the easy and efficient fulfillment of three basic human needs: commerce, governmental administration, and worship. The pandemic adds a fourth dimension, social interaction, to the list.
  • Currently cities are one of the most important centers of social and economic life in our country even as most people live in the suburbs. Most innovation happens in cities.
  • Why cities? It is about proximity where people regularly bump into one as part of everyday life which leads to increased creativity and innovation.
  • Many millennials, especially the ones driving the economy, prefer the dense social interaction of cities rather than spending weekends on a riding lawnmower as did past generations.

The talk about a revival of “urbanism is in reality the rediscovery of the value of proximity”.  Proximity means that people are close to one another and the things they need and want do not always require them  to drive a long distance as is often the case for people in the outer suburbs and rural America.

What About the Challenge of Unhealthy Conditions?

Cities have a history of being dirty and unhealthy such as London in the 19th century and its polluted smog and New York with its tenements and horse dung in the streets at the turn of the 20th century. 

The metro areas certainly became a focus in the early days of the pandemic with concerns related to the density of housing and shopping.

Fulton maintains that cities

  • Have survived because they are especially adaptable since they are not burdened with the lack of flexibility of the suburbs and the lack of efficiency of rural America
  • Public health officials and urban planners began to collaborate on alternatives for the obesity crisis prior to the pandemic
  • Post pandemic, cities will begin to use space differently by creating more spaces in restaurants and parks
  • Online retail will not lead to the end of the “mom and pop” stores of the cities but it is the larger, more traditional retail stores that have been losing ground over time.


Use of Space Changes

  • The decline of large retail establishments and malls will enable cities to build housing on old retail sites.
  • Bars, restaurants, and parks will become an integral part of the new urban landscape as the pandemic has highlighted their importance to the human interaction and connection.

Urban street life in the future will look something more like this:

  • More multifamily housing on old retail sites, more bars and restaurants, more coffee shops, and more ground-floor personal care businesses (hair and nail salons, gyms, yoga studios)
  • More carefully managed curbside parking, to accommodate the vast increase in delivery trucks.

Fulton’s Take on Cities of All Sizes

Fulton maintains that these changes in cities is not limited to mega-cities but to any human settlement of varying sizes where the people take advantage of proximity to efficiently engage in commercial, social, and cultural activity

About William Fulton.  Fulton is the director of Rice University's Kinder Institute for Urban Research. He is a former mayor of Ventura, California, and director of planning & economic development for the city of San Diego before assuming his new role.

The second part of this article will appear in next month’s trendSCAN.



Trends and Emerging Directions for Climate Change

We just experienced the warmest decade ever and according to NASA with 19 of the 19 warmest years have occurred since 2001.  Not a shock to those living in California.

  • Six of the 20 largest wildfiresin modern California history have been this year; the highest ever recorded.  These fires have destroyed more than 5 million acres in California, Oregon, and Washington.
  • NPR analyzing data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that approximately 50 million people in those states experienced at least one day of unhealthy or worse air quality due to these fires.

The Need to Take Action.

California as well as other states are facing environmental problems but with California taking up the call to actions.  The agenda set by Governor Newsome and the legislature includes the following:

  • Governor’s goal of 100% zero emission energy sources by 2045
  • Stop the sale of new gasoline powered cars by 2035
  • The legislature passed legislation to make new residential construction and new commercial construction to be net zero energy by 2020 and 2030 respectively

Newsome also maintains that the changes in cars in its own right but also to the decline of glaciers in the Sierra Nevadas and raised sea levels on valuable coastline and beaches.

California will also take measures related to carbon emissions from coal plants and other fossil fuel plants.  The proposed goals are 60% renewable energy by 2030  and 100% emissions-free power by 2045. 

Opposing Points of View

As can be expected not all segments of California are happy with these proposed goals.

A quote from the President of the California Manufacturers and Technology indicated that hot days and cloudy days should not be enough to shut down the world’s fifth largest economy.  He was referring to the shift to dependence upon roof top panels and solar farms.

The economic impact upon producers that will be passed along to consumers is also a concern as evidenced by comments by Rufer.  Rufer is the founder of The Morning Star Co. of Woodland, CA one of the world’s largest tomato processors. Under California’s climate-change initiative known as cap-and-trade, Morning Star currently spends about $2 million a year buying carbon emission credits which gives this company the right to release greenhouse gases into the air at its processing plants in Williams, Los Banos, and Santa Nella.  If there are increases in the cost of climate-change initiatives, it results in increased prices for tomatoes and other related products.

Freak Weather Events and Further Economic Impacts

Freak weather events were typically viewed by economists as localized shocks, but as climate change makes extreme weather more severe and frequent, that’s changing.  (Bloomberg).  Think fires, flooding, and hurricanes.

These fires, which are burning throughout the West and have taken multiple lives, could be a warning sign of climate change-induced financial crises to come, according to a report from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.  This report cited the following:

  • Rising costs of storms, floods, fires, and droughts could create “a systemic crisis in slow motion” in financial markets.
  • An estimated 25% of the California’s 12 million homes face high risk from wildfires. That has implications for mortgages, banks, home prices, and other financial assets.
  • Insurers, already pulling back from fire-prone areas, could leave homeowners with uninsurable properties.
  • Banks could limit loans to farmers after droughts resulted in lower crop yields.
  • Falling home values on coasts and floodplains could cut cities’ tax revenues

Tech is Playing a Role. 

Tech firms have been leading investors into energy startups since 2016, according to the International Energy Agency. Their investments may differ but the over-riding theme is decarbonization and they have the potential to lower our carbon footprint."

They are also motivated by corporate responsibility and complaints about their own carbon footprint from employees.

This segment of the economy is pushing for fighting  zero-carbon commitments and encouraging the use of data to support energy efficiency.  This is an excellent sign because BIG Tech already dominates much of life in the United States, i.e. the economy, politics, and culture.

What have they done?

  • Amazon and Shopify  announced the first recipients of their $2 billion and $5 million respective investment.
  •  Microsoft has a similar fund of $1 billion.
  • CarbonCure Technologies, maker of  climate-friendly concrete,  has received investments from all three of the tech funds cited in the first two bullets.
  • Other startups receiving tech money include Pachama and TurnTide Technologies.  Pachma helps companies to reduce the impact of their carbon costs and TurnTide Technologies is focused upon ways to reduce electricity use globally by 25%.

Make Way to Congress.  The Digital Climate Alliance is a new coalition that for the first time, will lobby lawmakers ensuring digital solutions are part of climate policy. Led by Intel and Johnson Controls, the group has six members and aims to more than double that number by next year. The coalition will lobby Congress to include digital into pending climate policy.

How it works: 

  • One idea proposed in a recent peer-reviewed study is for tech companies to shift digital requests like web searches to data centers in locations where excess electricity, such as from solar in the middle of the day, is otherwise wasted.
  • Another component will assess emissions on a granular level, like a specific building or different types of fossil fuels.

(Axios AM Deep Dive)



trendSCAN Quiz of the Month Answers

These should make sense to you if you’ve been tracking the trends over the last few months.

  1. Bike shorts
  2. High heels
  3. Nap dresses (COVID’s answer to comfortable, loose fitting “house dresses”


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