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Remember: What's the point of a City Park? Part 3: Community

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

What's the point of a City Park? Part 3: Community

As I have been walking in our parks trying to better define the purpose of a city park, the most apparent and obvious definition is always is front of me. I have thus far defined a city park as a place to examine mortality and as a place to find refuge. Today, I offer my third definition of the purpose of a city park and this purpose is community.

There are so many parks and playgrounds in the city of Allentown that each one of them can be connected to specific neighborhoods, and in some cases the bigger parks can be connected to everyone. At Percy B Ruhe Park, there is a youth league that plays and practices athletics there. Bucky Boyle has a frequently filled splash park and playground in an area of Allentown that doesn’t have many green open spaces left.

This past Sunday I sat with my friend Sara in the Rose Gardens and watched a father and son work in tandem to get back a football they lost in the large reflecting pond. I saw families enjoying the warm afternoon together. Groups of Muhlenberg Students were walking and checking out Cedar Beach for what may have been the first time. In every park, every day, experiences like the ones I witnessed at Cedar Beach are repeated countless times.

Our parks are our common grounds. We use them to meet, connect, and understand better both people and nature. The children that live around Franklin or Stevens parks downtown know which playground they call home. Those kids will grow up on those playgrounds and the playgrounds will forever be tied to them even as they reach old age.

Cedar Beach Parkway was where I spent the most time as a kid. If I think about it, I can remember tons of experiences I have had there and I know that the park will always be tied to me. Every one of you that reads this blog, I’m sure, could offer your own stories about what Allentown parks have been significant to your lives.

As much as these parks exist for the betterment and strengthening of communities, they also offer communities opportunity. The neighborhood parks give people the chance to come and meet each other. They can make new friends, new connections and it is these new friendships and connections that help to strengthen the community and ultimately and on account of the park or playground will make that neighborhood a better place to live in.

So, readers I must ask of you a favor. Whenever you read this and whoever you are, share your stories. If I get a lot of them, I would ultimately like to post them on the blog, as a post to show what community experiences our parks offer. I look forward to some great stories.

See Also:
What's the Point of a City Park? Part One
What is the point of a City Park? Part 2:Refuge



Blogger Michael Drabenstott said...

An amazing running community exists in Lehigh Parkway. I routinely see the same happy, friendly people week after week. You see them at races and volunteering at kids events. They're committed to fitness and to being outdoors whether it's 20 degrees and snowy or 80 degrees and humid. I don't know everyone's name. I probably never will. But with a smile, brief wave and nod of the head, we acknowledge to one another that we share important values that make us part of the same community.

October 6, 2009 at 5:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was a small child my father took me to Trexler Park to feed the ducks and we always had a good time. When my children were small I took them to the park to feed the ducks. What goes around comes around

October 6, 2009 at 10:55 PM  
Blogger Katie Bee said...

Though my family never lived in Allentown, we certainly took advantage of its park system. Our church was right next to West Park and every Sunday my parents had a heck of a time getting us into church - we loved that bandshell and fountain and all those trees with low hanging branches. If it could be climbed, we climbed it, even in our Sunday clothes. I remember sitting in church with runs all through my stockings. I would sit and pull the runs until my stockings looked like spiderwebs. My mom was embarrassed when we took communion - her kids in bedraggled, stained clothes! How improper! We would take fistfuls of donuts from the coffee hour and go back to the park. I love seeing this park evolve and I love the new coat of paint on the bandshell. It's a great park.

October 8, 2009 at 12:55 PM  

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