Tuesday, May 22, 2007

we will laugh and talk about the village green.

Though I am an avowed urbanite who loves living in a city environment, I also loves me my green space. Over the years I've been lucky enough (not by accident) to have lived within easy walking distance of awesome parks. Right now I live a block away from Dolores Park, a lovely piece of green with an amazing view.

It's a place with lots of opportunity for some good people watching and photography, something I try to take advantage of regularly. There's almost always something happening, like this past weekend when the Loyd Family Players showed up for an impromptu (for us) afternoon concert and stroll through the park....

My morning commute starts with a walk through the park to BART, and even at the early hour of 6:50am (yes, oy) there's a handful of folks taking their dogs out for a romp. Sometimes there's a fitness bootcamp group doing situps, pushups or some stretching. Very quickly I began to recognize the regulars for that time of day...I like the consistency of seeing familiar faces, especially that early in the morning...helps one to feel community, even before sunrise. And of course, the walk home is great -- on sunny days during the months where the sun sets well after the end of the work day, the park is filled with people, often with their dogs.

Community is a central part of Dolores Park, whether it's thousands gathering to watch the World Cup final or for a Cinco de Mayo festival or to see the San Francisco Mime Troupe or for Film Night in the Park or just to hang out with dogs and friends.

Another wonderful downtown green space is Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. I was lucky enough to live around the corner from it for a couple of years, and within a short walk for a few other years. I spent many a weekend day there, reading, napping, people-watching...it's my favorite spot in the city.

So I was pleased to find on Netflix a documentary about the park, Rittenhouse Square: A Year in the Life of an American Park. It's not bad, though seems to focus too much on girl-watching in the park, almost getting into dirty-old-man territory...it had an uncomfortable leering quality to it (I went to college with one of the associate producers, I wonder if I should write and tell him). That aside it also highlighted one of the best things about the park, the musicians who use it as practice and performance space. I think the people who've decided to cave into a small cadre of uptight nimbys who moved to the park without a clue as to what makes it great and now crack down on busking and playing need to watch the film to understand how vital a role music plays in the life of Rittenhouse Square.

It's these urban and downtown green spaces that add to city life, provide for a wonderful counterpoint to the fast pace and the concrete and steel that mostly defines being in a city.

**Update...the Chronicle gets into the act, singing the praises of Dolores Park.

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