White pelicans at White Rock Lake -- Photos by Kelley Murphy

The Dallas Parks Foundation Thursday night held its second annual CONFAB symposium, a conversation about growing our city’s green space. Speakers discussed new ways to connect public spaces, reversing old car-centric trends to create an environment with a true human element.

“Nobody gets inspiration from sitting in rush-hour traffic,” said Robbie Good of Bridge Studios during his presentation on ArtsLink, a vision for building on the success of Klyde Warren Park elsewhere. Of course automobiles have a place in urban design, but “cars shouldn’t domination opportunities for private investment and economic development.”

Dallas has a long way to go, as evidenced by our falling ParkScore — all the more reason to be having these conversations.

Other topics of the evening included the city’s award-winning park pavilion program (which were featured in Dwell magazine last year); an update on the master plan for Downtown with four more parks planned for the future; a Trinity corridor report in which Gail Thomas of The Trinity Trust looked at ways the city can make the most of its 10,000 acres of forest, noting, “The future of our city is the Trinity River.”; and finally, Dallas park and recreation director Willis Winters gave a “state of the parks” address, announcing the city’s quest to achieve national accreditation to join an elite 1 percent of park departments in the country.

A year since our last report, the White Rock Lake Conservancy still is working to raise the last bit of funds needed to begin the restoration the stone tables pavilion. The group almost got its big break in a voting contest to win a $10,000 grant from the Dallas Parks Foundation at last night’s event, but the prize went to Oak Cliff’s Lake Cliff Park.

Those types of contributions (if you tack on a few more zeroes) are what it takes to move these visionary ideas forward, says Samuel Stiles, director of development for the Dallas Parks Foundation and emcee for CONFAB. We can’t rely completely on city funding to transform our public spaces.

To learn more about the topics discussed at CONFAB and find out how to get involved, contact the Dallas Parks Foundation.