Unifying Green Space
Submitted by Dwain Wilson, The Wildwoods Foundation
Many, if not most, of the world?s great cities are unified by a central green space that has played a vital role in that city?s cultural history. (Think Boston?s Commons or Hyde Park?s Speakers? Corner.) And unless you count the Observatory scene in ?Rebel Without a Cause,? Griffith Park doesn?t quite make the grade. Now, I love Griffith Park, mind you, but let?s face it, it?s nowhere near downtown. And Hollywood (I hate to break it to you) is not a city.
Los Angeles has never had that unifying green-space. We missed the chance with the disregarded proposals for the LA River corridor tossed away so long ago. Now the Grand Avenue project offers us the chance to make up for lost time. We have the opportunity to create a modern-day version of the Commons. Plus, we have the benefit of learning from the world?s great cities and great designers. And I believe that the real-life wonders of life here in Southern California are a brilliant-enough palette from which to paint.
Now, all of this is not to say that we should not support utilitarian aspects of modern-day park design. There should be areas designated for recreation. And art. And entertainment. Perhaps a more naturalized version of the lovely California Plaza (pictured below)? And especially areas for education.
Urban parks offer exquisite illustration of the principals of an ecotone (a transition area between two adjacent ecological communities), for they are a microcosm of that very transition. This affords teachers the opportunity to show how lifestyle choices within an urban environment directly impact the surrounding natural world.
Finally, to facilitate the park?s application as an educational setting and as an extension of the workplace, the park would be one big wi-fi hot spot, allowing school children access to an interpretive site-specific network to help identify a native flower and also to help cloistered professionals escape their cubicles and disappear the walls of their workspace.
So if a park can be a unifying green-space that provides us a corridor to get one step closer to a more sustainable future for our city?if it can provide us the learning and working space that will help us become a citizenry more tolerant and understanding of the importance of diversity, both natural and cultural?while at the same time providing us a safe place to kick off our shoes and walk in the grass?then that surely is the best use of all.