Public Space: A World of Strangers (two of x)

02/11/2013 § 2 Comments

Barcelona, 2011

Barcelona, 2011

“When the city dweller leaves his home or the homes of people he knows personally, he is surrounded by strangers… the world of strangers which is the city is located in the city’s public space.”

Lyn H Lofland. A World of Strangers: Order and Action in Urban Public Space, 1973. page 19

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Osgood Park (ownership two of x)

02/04/2013 § Leave a comment

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On an early walk in Salem, I was overjoyed to find what I was sure would become my favorite sanctuary in the city. A short walk from my house, on the shore, a simple grass rectangle with mature trees, and of ideal Goldilocks proportions, being neither too large nor too small; this park was just right. Benches to sit on and listen to the gentle waves faced New England’s is pretty picturesque landscape. Here it was postcard perfect with a small island in the foreground and, across the water, a backdrop of stately Marblehead homes. The real selling point, though, was the swing set: four proper adult swings. I had just moved from Cambridge, where many close parks offered places to indulge in a bit of play. Here, I had been looking for a nearby place to swing, and while the larger and closer Forest River Park has a full playground and swimming facilities, at the time, it only had child safety swings.

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On leaving the park that day I fondly looked back. There was a sign, rather large, that I had somehow missed on my initial approach – there was the park’s name, various notices, and finally, the simple words: “members only.”

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I have since returned to the park, its open inviting lawn, and swung on the swings, but now it feels oddly subversive, and I wonder what I would say if anyone would ask me if I am in fact a member.

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