What world problem are you concerned about?
Not many people are able to realize, but many outdoor activities the common United States
Citizen partakes in are with the boundaries of some park – whether this activity is as simple as
walking, or as complex as rock climbing. From the massive Gates of the Arctic to the miniature Mills
End, parks have been able to preserve natural phenomenon, assist in reducing obesity, create safer
environments for the community, and create recreational opportunities, among other benefits.
With the premier of the PBS mini-series “The National Parks: America's Best Idea” and the
advent of the United States National Park Centennial , more national attention has been brought
back to the parks of the United States. However, it is important to notice that this spotlight is not
restricted to the national parks, but as expanded to include the National Monuments, National Forest
areas, State Parks, and even the occasional city park such as Forrest Park in Portland, Oregon.
However, even more attention is required these days to preserve the parks, whether it be for
recreational, natural, or historical purposes, so future generations will be able to enjoy them. In
bringing more respect and attention to our own parks, neighboring nations are likely to follow our own
example as they have many times in the past.
Why is this problem important?
Unlike politics, our jobs, or our state of well being, parks are here to stay in-defiantly.
However, many parks have fallen into disrepair or states of discord many time due to negligence, lack
of funds, and a general lack of awareness of the park. One case in particular includes the National
Mall in Washington D.C. Through many years of protests, marches, and general use, much of the park
has fallen into a serious state of disrepair.  While suggesting the Public to flip the bill is
unreasonable at this point and time, knowledge can still be power. By just increasing national attention
to the to the park, more attention in turn can be brought to the issue and more pressure will be put on
our Government to do something about it. Another example closer to home includes the Columbia
River Gorge National Scenic Area . The presence of I-84 and cities east and west of the gorge have
led to increases in nitrogen and sulfuric acid in the air. While the levels are low enough to not effect
human life at this moment, the Forest Service has noticed that “Indian rock art, are being harmed and
over time will deteriorate from winter immersion in this polluted air mass” . Through bringing
more attention to the scenic area, more awareness can eventually permeate through the surrounding
communities, which may eventually assist in combating the pollution.
What aspect of this problem seems particularly important to you?
It is my current goal to visit every single National Park by the time that I turn 50. However, it
goes without saying that it is also not uncommon for me to go to a city park for a run/hike or go to the
near by National Forest for a camping trip. Thus, I personally find nearly every park that I visit to be
valuable to some degree while simultaneously discovering as many opportunities as possible to assist
in keeping these parks in a state that is beneficial to the surrounding area.
How could a new software system help to solve this aspect of the problem?
The program that I suggest would be a completely free website – more specifically a
community driven repository for information on individual parks called “WikiParks.com” which in
turn would be based most likely on the Wikipedia engine. This program will have three different parts:
The Parks themselves, the Users and their profiles, and the connection between the User and Park.
Each Park will have profile containing:
– General history/information/location of the park
– Streaming RSS feed about upcoming events/volunteer events from the official park
– Streaming feed that looks up information/news that mentions that park (I think there is a
Google plug-in for this...)
– List of general park activities (i.e. hiking, camping, picnics, etc.)
– Repository for photos of the park
– Reviews of the park
– A Google maps plug-in of the park, with an option for a layer of detailed Topographic
maps of trails in the park. There can also be an option to upload their own maps
– Links to resources outside the web page (i.e. US Forest Service Webpage, Corvallis
Parks and Recreational District, etc.)
Each User will have:
– a Profile
– a way to upload Photos
– a blog of their trips to different parks
It is important to remember that a User can be either a parent looking for a playground to take
their child to a hardcore multi-month hiker.
The Connection Between the User and Park:
Each User should be able to:
– Find parks close to a given location
– On the Google maps plugin, be able to trace out hiking trips on the map and save these
trails/itineraries (with accompanying descriptions) which can be reviewed by other users
at any point.
– Be able to modify the description/history of the park
– Be able to post reviews of the parks
– Be able to send messages to other users
– Upload photos to the park profile
– Post Upcoming Volunteer activities to the corresponding park profile
– Modify the park profile's description
Why do you think that this idea will make a big impact on the world?
The National Parks of the United States acted as blue print for many national parks in other
countries. By increasing their importance of them in our lives, other countries, like many times before,
will most likely follow our example and treasure them even more.
What sources did you use in writing this Vision Statement?