The beauty—and comedy—of Parks & Recreation was in the striving of flawed people that routinely put aside self-interest to invest in each other and fix a broken culture. These people came to recognize the importance of interdependence—that “team” was more than a way of doing business, but a way of life.

Jeff Jensen

Parks & Recreation wasn’t just a sitcom. It was a carefully crafted stage where flawed characters navigated a labyrinth of their own making. It was an unlikely school, where the curriculum was human connection, and the classes taught you about selflessness.

Each character was a jigsaw piece, imperfect, incomplete, sometimes hilariously out of place. Yet, when assembled, they formed an image that was surprising and heartwarming. They were individuals grappling with their own self-interest, but they found a way to sidestep it, like a hiker bypassing a large boulder on a trail.

Instead, they made a decision to invest—not in stocks or bonds, but in each other. Like community gardeners, they chose to cultivate a culture of cooperation, to repair the social fabric that was worn and torn. Each character, in their own unique way, stitched a piece of this shared tapestry.

They began to understand a fundamental truth—a truth as solid as the ground under their feet. They grasped that interdependence was not just a fancy buzzword or a corporate catchphrase. It wasn’t a strategy to be discussed in meeting rooms, forgotten as soon as the coffee break ended.

‘Interdependence’ was more. It was like an underground river, always flowing, always present, nurturing the roots of their lives. Being part of a ‘team’ wasn’t just a role they played at work—it was a song that they were constantly humming, an ethos they lived by.

They saw ‘team’ as a collective around a campfire, stories, and lessons passed from one person to the next like a glowing ember. Being part of a team became a shared heartbeat, a rhythm they moved to. It was more than just a way of doing business—it was a way of experiencing life.

This understanding didn’t arrive with a bang. Instead, it descended quietly, like the gentle hum of a refrigerator, subtly changing their perception. In showcasing this, Parks & Recreation morphed from a light-hearted sitcom to a profound commentary on the human journey. It demonstrated the strength in unity, the power of collective action, and the profound beauty in shared striving.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Brand and Community at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2023 Stephen Boudreau.