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Shaping a Park: You just want to play!

The optimist says the glass is half full.
The pessimist says the glass is half empty.
The engineer looks at the glass and concludes it is twice as big as it needs to be.
But you are the thirsty person, you don’t care about who is right; you just want a drink!

-from Project for Public Spaces

I consider myself a realist. I believe that if you do well in this lifetime, you are reborn in Scandinavia.

In Copenhagen, "they" commissioned five artists to design and build five playgrounds

559,440: The population of Copenhagen in 2013. It is official municipal policy in Copenhagen that all citizens by 2015 must be able to reach a park or beach on foot in less than 15 minutes.

236,901: The population of Madison as of 2011. Madison has more playgrounds per person than any other U.S. city (7 for every 10,000 people).
Yay for us! The Madison Parks Foundation explains that the legacy of parks in the city is due to the involvement of the city residents. The people literally made the parks by buying up land, donating it, and donating money. "During the decades between 1894 and 1938, there were years when an astonishing one in every 10 Madison households regularly donated money to a private group to create and support the city's public parks."

The committee of neighbors who are dedicated to being part of the process of improving Reynolds Playground has great ideas. The City of Madison Parks Division has proposed spending all of the money allocated for playground improvements on equipment. The neighborhood committee wants a bit less of the same sort of equipment that one finds in the many other nearby parks. Instead, the neighborhood committee wants some landscaping elements. They want some play sculptures. They want to make the place represent the people who live nearby and use (or might want to use) the park. The committee has the generous help and support of a well know landscape architect in town, Ken Saiki, and has presented a reasonable outline of what could be done as a brilliant compromise (thanks Ken and Sylvia!).

But we are up against "the City." What in the heck does that mean?  

Who are these people and why do we keep hearing that "the City" won't like that, can't do that, would never approve that?

My husband asked me last night if I feel frustrated that it's so darn hard, and takes SO much work, to do something so small and so harmless and so good. I haven't been focused on the half empty glass. I'm just convinced that this is really not impossible, people.

So, who are the people who get called "the City?" Can we chat?

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