Public parks are for everyone, by definition, but they don’t always feel that way. For example, women might avoid densely wooded trails if they’re worried about safety. Elderly visitors could feel uneasy on paths shared with skaters and cyclists. And people of color could choose to avoid parks where visitors are overwhelmingly white.

Macalester College geographer Dan Trudeau and his students are studying Phalen Regional Park in St. Paul, Minnesota, to understand how this heavily used oasis attracts visitors who reflect the city’s racial and ethnic diversity. Offering a wide range of facilities and activities, including events that reflect different cultures and traditions, is an important draw. So are clean bathrooms and ample signage.

“Parks are like a city’s living room,” Trudeau observes. “Designing, building and managing them well makes people more likely to go there and stay a while.”

This week we also liked articles about the loose change travelers leave at airport security checkpoints, Iranian succession, and Detroit techno music.

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Jennifer Weeks

Senior Environment + Cities Editor

‘Meditation,’ by Lei Yixin, near the picnic pavilion in Lake Phalen Regional Park. City of Saint Paul

Successful city parks make diverse communities feel safe and welcome − this Minnesota park is an example

Dan Trudeau, Macalester College

City parks are like outdoor living rooms: If people feel welcome and relaxed, they will settle in.

In 2022, passengers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport left behind $29,320.40 at security checkpoints. Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

Americans leave a huge chunk of change at airport security checkpoints − here’s what it means for the debate over getting rid of pennies

Jay L. Zagorsky, Boston University

Air travelers left nearly $1 million behind at TSA checkpoints in 2023.

The U.S. is in for another busy hurricane season. Here are hurricanes Irma, Jose and Katia in 2017. NOAA

Hurricane forecast points to a dangerous 2024 Atlantic season, with La Niña and a persistently warm ocean teaming up to power fierce storms

Jhordanne Jones, Purdue University

NOAA issued its busiest preseason hurricane forecast yet, with the second highest accumulated cyclone energy. An atmospheric scientist explains what’s behind the numbers.

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