MAJOR GREEN TO MEMORIAL PARK

Houston, prepare for a whole new Memorial Park thanks to massive $70 million gift

Houstonians can expect Eastern Glades in Memorial Park. Courtesy photo

Steven Devadanam is editor of CultureMap/Houston, where this article originally appeared:

In 2011, the future of Memorial Park looked bleak, with news that as much of 80 percent of its trees could be lost to the devastating drought. What a difference seven years makes.

Philanthropic Houston couple Rich and Nancy Kinder have announced that their Kinder Foundation is offering a grant of $70 million to fast-track Memorial Park’s Master Plan, one of the nation’s largest and most visionary urban park restorations. The mammoth gift is the largest to any Houston park, and would fast-track the plan from proposal to reality in 10 years — meaning good news for the Bayou City’s iconic symbol that spans 1,500 acres in the inner loop. The forward-looking plan should elevate Memorial Park — already nearly double New York’s Central Park — as one of the most elite urban greenspaces in the country. 

The new plan calls for a $200 million in upgrades, featuring a unique nature bridge that will connect the park’s north and south sides, providing safe crossing for all people and wildlife within a cohesive park experience of restored prairie and trails. Other additions include a trail/bridge system north over I-10, linking the White Oak Bayou Greenway trail system, and south over Buffalo Bayou; a 1.5-mile accessibility trail through the 600-acre wilderness on the south side; and other trails and crossings.  

Houstonians can also expect a 100-acre Eastern Glades project, already in progress, that will add a large, quiet, and shady respite for picnicking, leisurely strolls, and other passive pastimes, and will feature a 5-acre lake and wetlands.  Other developments include Memorial Groves, a tribute site that will honor Memorial Park’s original use as one of only 16 National Guard training camps for WWI soldiers; a running complex, with a quarter-mile timing track and concessions; replaced and rebuilt ball fields; and ancillary parking, restrooms, and signage. The nationally acclaimed landscape architectural firm, Nelson Byrd Woltz, has led the design of the park.

That the staggering gift should come from the Kinder Foundation should be no surprise to Houstonians. The Kinders have become synonymous with Houston’s urban development, with the Kinder Institute for Urban Research and their continued support of at least $100 million to Houston parks.

The formal announcement was made by Mayor Sylvester Turner during a press briefing on April 25. This news comes as a revised and restated Memorial Park Development Agreement has been presented before the Quality of Life Committee of the City Council, one that requires  city council approval. Spearheading the Master Plan is the Memorial Park ConservancyHouston Parks and Recreation Department, and the Uptown Development Authority.

“With the City Council’s approval, this historic gift will enhance a park that draws users from all over Houston, boosts the city’s entire park system and help make Houston more flood-resilient,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner at the press briefing. “The Kinders’ past generosity to several signature Houston parks, along with this latest magnificent gesture, means their foundation is ever more a constant catalyst for health, recreation, community engagement, appreciation of nature, green space preservation and other quality-of-life factors that help make our city great.

Let’s all applaud Kinder Foundation for its vision and commitment to making Memorial Park a treasured destination place for years to come.

 

Find the advantages of hitting the links

Here's why playing golf will help you make more money

There is no better environment for creating strong business relationships than participating in a four-hour round of golf with colleagues. Take a second and think about the advantages that playing 18 holes presents for a lower-level worker looking to make strides in their career.

For starters, golf allows for long periods of time driving around in a cart with another person. A situation like that provides a truckload of time to make conversation and get to know someone better.

If you are playing with individuals who like to sling around some cash, the game also lends itself to making small (or large) bets that offer the potential for good-natured bonding with teammates (and opponents). And of course, If alcohol should find its way into the hands of golfers during the round, then the atmosphere becomes looser and more open.

There are a broad variety of ways to utilize golf to help further your career, but all of those advantages can become potholes that derail a rising career if not employed correctly. Here are five solid lessons that will have you grabbing your clubs and sharpening your short game to help boost your career.

1) Honesty is the best policy for showing your character

Golf is the sport that people feel most comfortable to cheat at while playing without worrying about being called out for a penalty. But by cheating, amateurs rob themselves of one of the cooler aspects of golf. The sport is the rare game that allows a golfer to compete against themselves while they are battling against someone else.

But when playing with business associates, honesty can be the best policy because it offers bosses insight into your character. As Julian Small, the CEO of the Wentworth Golf Club in London told The Economist, "When you do business with people, you need to know more about them." The only way to know more about a person is to spend time with them where they have a chance to conversate and observe people. Golf offers the perfect venue for that interaction.

Now we all know that little things add up when you are working toward a career goal. Whether it be spending extra time at work or asking for more responsibility, the higher-ups take notice when you commit to your job. So, it may seem like an insignificant thing to cut a stroke here or use your foot wedge to move a ball from behind a tree, but realize that your boss may be sizing you up while you do it.

2) Finding a way to turn the "No" into a "Yes"

Midway through season four of the hit comedy sitcom, The Office, there was an episode titled "Job Fair." In the episode, paper salesman Jim, played by John Krasinski, takes a potential client, Phil, onto the links in the hopes of sealing a new business deal. On top of the hilarious sight gags (at one point Jim's co-worker Andy runs a cart into a sand bunker and is ejected), there is a solid message for all younger associates on their own for the first time.

When Jim attempts to make some headway with the client on switching paper companies, he's turned down quickly. But after watching Phil take six shots to get out of the sand trap, Jim later compliments him on not picking up the ball and quitting. He then tells Phil that just like he didn't quit in the bunker with his wedges, Jim won't stop trying to get his business. And because it is a television show, Jim gets the new contract. But just because the lesson involves some Hollywood magic doesn't mean that using perseverance can't get you what you want.

The great thing about golf is that you don't have to press your point immediately. Throughout the long round, you will have several opportunities to lay the groundwork for a stronger relationship. Perhaps you can't close the deal in one afternoon, but you'll see opportunities, like Jim, to let the client know that you won't stop trying to help them better their business.

3) Everyone wants to talk about themselves

If you are struggling to make a connection with a client or associate, be patient and calm. Nothing strangles conversation more than having someone who is tense or consistently pressing within the group. The golf course provides a haven for informal discussions. No longer are people wearing suits and ties and stuffed into a boardroom. Instead, they are breathing fresh air and wearing clothing that is lightweight and relaxing.

Yashish Dahiya, the CEO of Policybazaar.com, told Entrepreneur India that the golf course was the perfect place for long, casual conversations that were necessary to his business. "The semi-formal set-up of a golf course allows me to interact about several opportunities at length," Dahiya said. "Also, professionals and businessmen alike are more open with the opinions and reviews in this setup in comparison to a boardroom, which can be of great value to any entrepreneurial venture."

Never forget that the majority of people enjoy talking about their life. Maybe they have kids or grandkids or went to a prestigious college. The subjects are limitless for conversation. Yes, it can be hard to crack someone who appears guarded with details of their life, but there is always a conversation to be had that opens the door to broader discussions.

Once you make a connection, then you can find a path to bringing up business. Most people play golf to leave their troubles behind. They want a chunk of time that can relieve stress and bring some joy into their lives. Golf is the outlet that accomplishes those things in most businessmen. If you can learn proper timing, then the club can be a great too for future business.

4) Be open to what a day at the course can bring you

One of the worst mistakes you can make when hitting the links with business on your mind is becoming too narrow with your focus. Perhaps you have the intention of making inroads with a new client, or you are hoping you'll get a chance to talk to your boss about more responsibility, but the day never really works in your favor, and you strike out. Some individuals will look at the day as a bust and simply give up on the numerous opportunities for additional networking. This curveball is why you always have to be open for what a day at the club could bring you.

Most professionals encourage entrepreneurs to relax on the golf course and not push business. Instead, focus on developing the relationships of the people around you. No one can ever claim that their time at the course has been a wasteful use of resources because we can't say definitively that the people we meet won't be close friends or future business partners.

By pressing your associates or potential clients into business talk, you run the risk of alienating them quickly. So instead of shooting for the quick sale, play the long game when you find yourself in a group on the golf course. Build relationships and seek mentors that can help guide your career. By doing this, you assure that the business will one day take care of itself.

5) Know what you are doing on the course

It may seem like an obvious thing, but all of the business acumen and training in the world won't help you if you are a moron on the golf course. Remember, other golfers will always excuse a man that plays golf poorly, but they won't tolerate a player who doesn't know what the hell they are doing on the links.

Obvious things to avoid include being loud, drinking too much, and dressing inappropriately. But you also need to make sure that you know the unwritten rules of the game of golf. You can really ruin a day at the course by hitting out of turn, standing on someone's putting line or making noise while someone is trying to hit the golf ball. Always be ready to hit your shot and if you lose a golf ball, don't spend twenty minutes looking for it.

If you decide to play for money and you are fortunate to win, don't celebrate or boast about your winnings, especially if you took money from your boss or a client. Instead, take that money and buy drinks for the group, or if the haul is big enough, kick in for dinner. Believe me, the money will come back to you ten-fold if you can close a sale later on with the client.

Conclusion

The golf course can be a great place to further your career and deepen relationships that could lead to promotions and new experiences. These benefits only happen if you use your time at the golf course wisely. Relax and enjoy the day, while always keeping your eye on the prize that awaits you if you handle your business the right way.


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