Community Relations at Public Gardens: Issues, Causes and Responses
University of Delaware
The purpose of this research was to determine the types of community relations issues that public gardens in the United States were encountering and the methods that the gardens employed to communicate with their neighbors. The researcher found little The data for this research were collected through a survey and case studies. The survey consisted of a four page questionnaire that was mailed to the 474 institutional member gardens of the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta (AABGA) in April, 2001. The survey was developed to determine the national scope of community relations in public gardens. The twenty three questions were categorized into three main sections. Section one focused on general background questions about the respondent and the garden., the second section on the frequency and methods the garden used to communicate with its neighbors, the current complaints that the garden is experiencing and the changes that have taken place because of the issue, and the third 1 research in community relations at public gardens and hoped that once this work was I published, gardens will begin to see the need and make a conscious effort to implement complete community relations programs at their gardens. I on information concerning the amount of staff and staff hows that are used to andle community relations at the garden. With the help of a reminder postcard, the rate was boosted to 31%. The second phase of the data collection, the case study, was conducted in June 2001, when the researcher visited five of the gardens that 1 responded to the survey. Selection criteria for the case study gardens were geographic diversity and resolved community relations issues. The broad range of community issues that gardens faced included increased composting, wildlife control, recycling, sewage treatment, security, emergency services and construction projects. As a result of the study, the researcher was surprised by the lack of community relations activities and staff that public gardens in the United States have. The predominant community relations work that gardens reported was ‘putting out fires”, such as correcting a situation after it has been negatively brought to the forefront. Public gardens need to take an active rather than reactive approach to promote themselves to their surrounding community. Neighbors are a great source of visitation, membership, donors, volunteers, advocates, and program participants. Initiation of a community relations program at public gardens will be a positive step in moving the field of public parking in town, increased litter and traffic, and congestion of city streets. Other issues included concern with past administration, boundaries and zoning of the property, and the finances of the garden including how the garden received and where it gave money, and the price of admission for local visitors. And finally, some community relations issues for public gardens focused on the garden’s initiatives including pesticide use, horticulture into the future, to be more competitive with the museums and public schools and will prove to be a benefit to all gardens which will affect nearly all of their gardens’ operation positively.
Community , Relations , Public relations , Conflict