Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Parks and People

"When politicians, philanthropists, and journalists consider how their work might advance the cause of social justice, they typically do not speak the language of design. This is wrong. The new great urban parks in Chicago, St. Louis, and New York open up new vistas that everyone should embrace..."

Sarah Williams Goldhagen,"Park Here," New Republic, Septembe 2, 2010

This essay begins by contemplating the plight of the public realm in the U.S. and ends with design-speak admiration for new urban space like Millenium Park in Chicago.

"Even if political discourse has largely decamped to satellites and networks, democracies need actual places in cities where dissimilar people routinely see and interest each other."

We never learn in this essay who exactly uses they new urban parks and how they use them. One yearns for a 21st century William H. Whyte. Do people who live in the cities use these parks? Or are they public realms for tourists? Is there much diversity, aside from tourists? Or is diversity a matter of school field trips? What kinds of interactions occur that enhance democracy? Or is tolerance simply in the air? What are the "security" protocols for a healthy democratic public realm?

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