Friday was the first of our official community workshops. After the great turnout at the informal park clean-up and community potluck, I was a little disappointed by how few people came. However, I think the people that did come were enthusiastic and voiced good ideas.
To me, the priority and interest activity highlighted two main projects: the kiosk and the playground. I voted for these two as well, but have some concerns about each.
The community really desires a simple food stand in the park, with the hope that it will draw people in. I agree that this could be a good idea, but worry that initially the kiosk would not be used and therefore would not be profitable. If people don’t use the park now, why would they go just for a food kiosk, when there are plenty of food options available on the street? Therefore, I think the revitalization of the park must occur before a kiosk is established, or the kiosk should only be open for special events.
I think an improved playground could bring families to the park. Whenever I have gone to the temple at the end of Corso Garibaldi, there have been families with young children on the lawn. Giving these families a place to play could really bring new life into the park. However, a playground is a large investment and must be made with quality materials. This project isn’t suitable for us as a Placemaking class, but I think the community associations should prioritize it.
So what can we do as a Placemaking class? I think we should start small and try to raise awareness of the park within the community. My first idea is to paint a map or a picture of the view by the street signs pointing to the park. This would disturb community complacency and make people take notice of the park signs, which are almost hidden on the street.
My second idea is to host a paint night event in the park. Community members could create their own artwork which is then displayed around the park. Perhaps they could even paint the maps/views I mentioned before.
At the workshop someone mentioned all the musical instrument museums. Another event could bring music to the park, sponsored by the museums. This would be good publicity for both the park and the museums.
Overall, I think what we need to do is something that actively draws people into the park. If people do not know about this wonderful green space right under their noses and all the efforts being made to improve it, they will never use it or the kiosk/playground/relax area/etc, which would be an absolute shame.