April 25, 2014

After visiting all of Seattle’s parks, two cyclists offer reasons to go outside 

One camera. Two bikes. Nearly four years. More than 400 parks. It sounds like the making of an adventure story, and in a way it is. 

James Mitchell and Jackson Quall set out on a journey to document all of Seattle’s parks and they have compiled their story – and the story of the outdoors in their city – in a book called Reasons to Go Outside. 

“We both spent a lot of time in Seattle parks growing up and also the national and state parks in Western Washington, so it’s hard to think we weren’t dramatically impacted by them,” said James Mitchell, one of the books authors. “We also spent a fair share of our youth, as most kids do, staring at TV screens. Often together. So there’s hope for everyone.”

The Coalition has leveraged funding for 50 projects in Seattle’s parks: 37 funded by the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program and 13 by the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Through their journey, the cyclists began to see how parks impact community and how fortunate Seattleites are to have access to these spaces when other communities are still doing without.

“Occasionally we’d get to a park and see some kind of community event taking place,” Quall said. “It’s awesome to see all kinds of diverse people gathering around and having fun at parks.”

After becoming intimately familiar with Seattle’s parks and traveling to see other urban areas like New York and Chicago they found that older cities mostly offer two or three large parks that act as crown jewels of recreation. Seattle is unique in its abundance with small and mid-size parks that Quall and Mitchell call gems.

“As someone who has spent more hours in Seattle’s parks than anyone I know, I can attest to the restorative properties these spaces have,” Quall said. “Urban lifestyles these days often leave health to the wayside, which is a real shame, and a lot of folks don’t even realize that there are little green pockets of stress relief all around us right now.”

The Coalition envisions a future where all Washingtonians benefit from the outdoors and it seems Quall and Mitchell agree.

“All your best memories will happen if you leave the house,” Mitchell said.

Learn more about Mitchell’s and Quall’s book.

Learn more about the Coalition’s work to ensure all Washingtonians have community parks.