What does a daffy have in common with a downward dog?
Both are moves you might see in this month’s featured parks, because parks can be as varied as the people who use them. One may be designed to support a single activity, such as skateboarding. Other parks are planned to support a wide assortment of uses, such as walking or running, children’s play, competitive sports, natural resource protection, or beautiful landscapes. Programs can be as varied as a park allows, promoting mind-body exercises, cultural performances, or water-based fun. Whether a park promotes a wide range of activities or a single use, it is but a single piece of a larger, complex parks system. Parks and open spaces must be envisioned as whole systems, not only to best meet diverse recreational goals, but to also best deliver the wide range of associated parks’ benefits, such as health, economic development, and community-building.
June’s featured parks demonstrate diversity in uses, and both are prime examples of parks as civic spaces, bringing people together to connect around common experiences.
You might see a daffy performed at the Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark in Houston, Texas. In response to an important need for an often under-served age group, a group of skaters formed PUSH (Public Use Skateparks for Houston) to advocate for a safe, well-designed skate park. In response, the Houston Parks Board, a non-profit parks partner, raised the funds and built a state-of- the- art skatepark along Buffalo Bayou and the edge of downtown, an area already used by skateboarders. Opened in 2008, the 30,000 square foot facility is owned and operated by the City of Houston. The park is free, open late year-round, hosts classes and exhibitions, and has become an extreme sports destination. Site furnishings were manufactured by DuMor, Inc.
Though best known for its Fourth of July Boston Pops concert and fireworks, the Charles River Esplanade performs a wide-variety of public service the other 364 days a year, as well. The park began with a seawall and landfill in the late 19th century and has become the crown jewel of Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace. The conversion from polluted mudflats to linear park continued decade by decade. Today, this riverside gem provides waterfront activities such as boating and fishing, as well as land-based trails for running, walking, and bicycling. Programs are diverse, too, and provide yoga lovers and baseball players alike room to practice their favorite activities. This three-mile stretch of greenspace encourages people from all walks of life to share in its natural beauty.