Tag Archives: city parks

WoLP #19: it is what it is

At this time of year in Seattle, the cold dark days behind us, the long summer solstice ahead of us, we make plans: picnics, ball games, walks through the woods. We set a day and a time…and if you’ve been around, you bring an umbrella and sunglasses. It’s springtime in Seattle.

I was working in the garden the other day, in the warm rain, appreciating at the very least that the weeds were easier to pull with the ground soft and pliable. In the background I heard robins and song sparrows singing, I heard a nearby wren proudly announcing his territory.

Then I heard a rousing baseball game in the park–the hush right before the pitch and the ball is hit, the cries of parents and team mates, “go! go! go!” And then hoots of joy when as one side or another gained ground, and I thought, “this time of year, it is what it is, and today it’s sunny/cloudy/rainy/breezy/beautiful, all in the space of an hour.”

Enjoy!

52 WoLP is a year long meditation on the beautiful gift of Lincoln Park in West Seattle.

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52 Weeks of Lincoln Park (#3): Mystery Solved

Ok, so this is an obscure mystery, but still….When I was looking through the Seattle gov photo archives for stuff on Lincoln Park, I kept coming across a pix of a lily pond that was supposedly located in LP.  Except it had houses right behind it and it didn’t look like any part of LP I’d seen. Add to that the fact that Broadway Park on Cap Hill was called Lincoln Park before being renamed in 1922 and I figured: those lily pond pictures are from the other park, case closed.

the houses in the back, the clear space? mystery pond! (1936)

the houses in the back, the clear space? mystery pond! (1936)

But recently, friend, fellow artist, and West Seattle native Kirsten Wilhelm happened to mention the old lily pond in Lincoln Park–how she used to love it as a kid.  What?!  Where is this thing!  Well, it’s at the northern edge of the park, right where there’s this odd clump of bamboo…look behind the bamboo, in the bramble and you’ll see the remains of the lily pad pond.  The boulders and landscaping are still visible, but it’s very much overgrown from its earlier incarnation…which is ok, imo, since a lily pond in the piney-cedary woods of our beloved LP is kind of a stretch.  But a lovely idea anyway.  Please let me know if you have faves or special tidbits about LP you’d like to share–cuz we all wanna know!

From Italy to our National Parks and Forests to Lincoln Park: a NYT opinion piece plus some..

Timothy Egan recently wrote a piece about our National Parks and Forests, the envy of the entire world, a fluke almost in a land-grab world of power and exploitation (The Geography of Nope, T. Egan, 9/29/12).  It’s a pretty good read, check it out.

And of course, since it’s the crazy season, there’s a real live and imperative political angle…Not that Obama has been any sort of champion at all of the free and open spaces that grace our country, he hasn’t.  But Romney tipped his hand, showing that he would deal a devastating and permanent blow to the gems that define America “…earlier this year when he told a Nevada newspaper that ‘I don’t know what the purpose is’ of all this federal land in the West. It would be nice to think he just doesn’t get it, because he’s never spent any time in the free outdoors.”

The issue that Egan takes up reminds me of our recent run-in with the “think creatively: minds in Seattle’s Parks and Recreation Dept. that came up with the idea for a tree-top zip line with concession stand and ropes course in the middle of one of our few remaining urban sanctuaries and old growth forests, Lincoln Park.  The response was quick and decisive but you have to believe that they are back at the drawing board trying to figure out how to monetize the park by the square foot.  It’s almost a carbon copy of the national urge on the part of a few:

The states, of course, are cash-strapped, and want these lands only so they can industrialize them quickly, with minimal regulations. If you want to know what our public lands would be like under states in the pocket of oil companies, just look at the closing days of George W. Bush’s presidency, when drillers pressed to scar up land near some of the most iconic national parks and monuments in the Southwest. Only a change in administrations, and lawsuits that back the people’s right to manage the lands properly, stopped them in their tracks.

Second — and more importantly — these are our lands they want to take away. The toddler in Tuscaloosa has equal claim to the stunning Vermilion Cliffs outside the Grand Canyon as does a cowboy in Arizona. One day, when we are a nation of 600 million, these community-owned treasures will be all the more valuable.

And that last part is the part that will challenge the small thinkers who are driving monetization: the importance of our free and open lands will only grow as the lack of free and open land decreases.  And not just for us, but for all migrating animals and birds, for an entire ecosystem that requires space and diversity and a multitude of resources we scarcely recognize.

So, dear Seattle City Council, Mayor McGinn, Parks Dept: I ask you to think in terms of a broad and varied portfolio of open space.  Some quite urban, some urban sanctuaries, some tiny, some quite grand.  Don’t apply a single rule of $X per SqFt to evaluate what we have that makes this city liveable.  Think truly creatively, think really big, think for the long term.  Consider existing city parks like Central Park and Golden Gate park.  No cheap, short term tricks but rather a vision of the gems we have becoming even more valuable with time.