We’re so excited to share our interview with Farrell Buller, a Principal Consultant with Amilia and 110%. She works to help Parks and Recreation agencies achieve their long-term goals, manage resources, and lead successful change initiatives.
Keep scrolling to read (or listen to) what Farrell has to say about the past, present and future of Parks & Rec in North America.
I wanted to start with why you transitioned from local government into consulting/advocacy for financial sustainability.
Each of the positions that I've held over the last 25 years, I've done with intention. Switching organizations or titles meant that I could influence the direction of what was happening. When I was a rec coordinator, I could influence what people thought about individuals with disabilities. Then I moved to a community that was low income and where English was a second language, and I was able to influence how people were accepting of them in those communities. Each of those changes was for a significant reason: to have a greater influence, to impact change, to create better communities in places and spaces.
When it comes to this role, people that know me know I love local government; it’s an opportunity for awesome impact at the frontline level. Having the opportunity to make this transition from working inside local government to beside local government gives me the greatest opportunity to help other professionals in the field. I can walk along side as they work to create better lives for the people in their communities and to have more influence in the systems and the delivery. The results are happy, healthy communities.
With your broad experience, why do you want to work specifically with P&R agencies?
Parks and Recreation professionals are in the “relationship” business. Getting to work with 110% allows me to continue building relationships with others. One of my values is inclusivity. Parks & Rec is one place inside local government where everyone can be easily welcomed. It is a phenomenal place to live that value. Most people’s favorite memories did not take place at work. It is an experience, the people you were with. At P&R, that is what we are doing: helping people create memories forever.
Parks and Recreation professionals are in the “relationship” business. Getting to work with 110% allows me to continue building relationships with others.
Because of the idea that you should be comfortable surrounding yourself with people that are much smarter than you. I’ve known Jamie since before she started 110% (since 2004, when I was a coordinator, and she was superintendent) and I watched her grow.
Jamie displays ethics, values, and principles that I believe in. I believed in what she was doing: giving P&R organizations the opportunity to continue to take care of their infrastructure, people, and communities. When you love P&R and believe in what someone is doing, you welcome that brand. I am thrilled to work with Jamie and the team.
And it's fun to be in a role where we get to innovate, be creative, and make things happen for our clients!
Tell me about the marriage between 110% and Amilia and why they complement each other.
I’ve studied 110% and Amilia since 2017. I started studying what Amilia does – you’ve designed a system for us as professionals, with our input. From the inside I've seen the commitment to improvements, listening, and culture. It’s another place where I get to be around people of all diverse cultures and backgrounds and expertise – again, inclusivity is here. It’s a brand I am proud to wear.
What makes this work so important to you?
We are able to provide a refuel of sorts. I can provide what people want to be doing when they are not at work. There are so many heavy, hard things are happening in the world right now and any opportunity I must have that positive impact (exclamation point, a bit of sunshine) I will take.
Some of my earliest memories are from when I was about 4 years old, and my mom worked at a Parks & Rec district. Attending something like a Teddy Bear picnic – looking back, I did not know that it was Parks & Rec! That is when I started loving this.
What is the message you want people to take away from our conversation?
I hope the people that are in Parks & Rec or come into this field just stay the course, do not lose yourself in the noise – remember who you are at your core and live in that. They do not just have an advocate; they have an accomplice in me when it is for the benefit of their community members. I also hope that people get into their communities and start loving the life that they are preaching and teaching.
What do you think we are going to see more of at P&R agencies in the coming years?
Firstly, one of the trends I see that I love is from this next wave of P&R professionals: they are smart, they want work/life balance, they have great ideas, they are ready to push the envelope. That combination of people who have longevity and this fresh eye and spirit, people that can bring in history and what has been and why it is important and different perspectives. We have an opportunity now more than anything to be shaping that for generations. I see that happening, being willing to have tough conversations.
Secondly, I see much more of an intentionality to decision making, for example with rec programming. We used to throw spaghetti at the wall and see what stuck. Now we have so much data and access to our people and communication channels we’ve never had! Decisions on what to provide, on policies, procedures, focus, prioritizing – it's at a different level with all the opportunities in front of us.
How do you see the role of technology in helping P&R professionals?
This makes me think of something a client just recently said: “my work with you and this data allows me to tell the story that my gut already knows.” Parks & Rec people come into the profession because we’re people’s people. We need data to help us tell the story of the things we already know. That’s exciting and can speak to anyone.