Public Health, Public Space: Parks are “an Essential Business”
A recent Urban Land Institute—Columbus webinar, featuring a presentation by MKSK, titled “Parks are an Essential Business,” deserves a wide audience here in Worthington. MKSK, the reader may recall, is the urban design and planning firm that drafted the UMCH Comprehensive Plan update in 2014.
MKSK’s statement on the topic begins boldly: “As the only social infrastructure that is reliably open and available to our communities during COVID-19, it is now more than ever critical to acknowledge the importance of parks. The pandemic has brought greater clarity to what is ‘essential’ in our daily existence. In the era of social distancing and sheltering in place, we are all discovering what many of us already knew—that parks and trails are an essential business.” Reassuringly, the observation is made that our nation and our cities have adapted and created public spaces in the past in response to crises: “Parks like [New York City’s] Central Park had their inception in response to malaria, cholera, and tuberculosis. Frederick Law Olmsted [Central Park co-designer] understood that parks were prerequisite for sound collective health. What will our response be to this generational crisis?”
[Olmsted also understood the creation of Central Park shortly before the Civil War as a living demonstration of the virtues of the North’s democratic egalitarianism—public space open to all, equally. For a roundabout article on this subject, go here: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/27/opinion/sunday/drinking-barstool-democracy.html].
MKSK’s “Viewpoint” statement on the topic of parks as essential to community life, especially in light of Covid-19, may be found here: https://www.mkskstudios.com/dialogue/mksk-viewpoint-parks-are-an-essential-business?rq=parks%20are%20an%20essential%20business
And the ULI webinar presentation itself may be viewed and listened to here (approx. 55 minutes long): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgKStgS0uSs
Relatedly, to read about the healing power of gardens, go here: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/18/opinion/sunday/oliver-sacks-gardens.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage . And to read about how trees keep us all cool, go here: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/09/climate/city-heat-islands.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share
Stay well. May the restorative and healing powers of nature be yours this season. It is all around and within us.