Friday, January 11, 2008

Get Lost!

Franklin Park, while a wonderful relief from the urban environment that surrounds it, can scarcely be characterized a 'wilderness'. One is always within earshot of a road so getting seriously lost would take some effort.
According to the history page of the Franklin Park Coalition’s website: “Olmsted wanted Franklin Park to soothe city residents who were stressed by modern life.”
We come to the park to rest and revive, to breathe and to escape the stress and sensory overload of the city. A big part of that overload is the signs, signs we tune out the same way a teenager tunes out her scolding parents.The rest of the city is increasingly (if you can believe it’s possible to have more signs!) marred by signs - many, but not all of them useful. I'm not a fan of those advertising behemoths in public spaces. Yes, yes, the revenue is useful but keep them out of Dudley, please.
Public space needs to remain public space and that means not leasing it permanently to private concerns. Though signs in Franklin Park would serve a different purpose – one of direction – maybe we also come to the Park to get lost a little – in our thoughts, in the moment, in our connectedness to Nature. Even “useful” or directional signs could prove a distraction from that path to relaxation, a path more easily trod without the distraction of signs. Meandering through the Park won’t get us anywhere fast or faster but didn’t we come to slow down a bit?
Though they might be somewhat useful, leave the signs where they belong - in the streets with the traffic lights and the asphalt and the honking horns. Save the Park for all that other less useful stuff: sunlight streaking through tree limbs, the crunch of leaves or crisp, new snow underfoot and vistas uncorrupted by someone telling us where to go.

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