Let's have more creativity in town - from playgrounds to downtown
Original post made by diana diamond on Jan 15, 2007
I read that and thought, how great. Here are a group of people that are eagerly trying something new a playground that will help children interact with new play features water, ramps, sand and objects meant to spur the imagination, not just make the body climb up and down.
And then I thought, we are in Silicon Valley, in a community filled with parks, and maybe we could try the same thing. After all, our parks in town are cookie-cutter molds of playground equipment that has been around for decades. Maybe they are plastic rather than steel jungle gyms now, but each park seems to have almost identical play equipment and they all look the same. They are boring. And if we don't have creativity to develop new parks, how can we inspire our children to creatively enjoy our parks?
As I write this, I am also thinking about more than parks. I am envisioning a whole new creative process in town that we all could start thinking about, titled, "How do we make Palo Alto a more interesting, more attractive and more creative place to live in?"
But first back to the parks.
Mitchell Park years ago used to be an area mecca because it was such a creative playground with tunnels and water fountains holes in the ground, etc. And Sunnyvale had a Dixie steamboat park theme replete with waterfalls and fountains that was an absolute delight. But the lawyers must have gotten involved because what the kids play on now is safer, of course, but not imaginative.
Why not have neighborhood theme parks around town pirates, robots, power rangers, and princess parks for our kids? Why not have big sandy areas where kids can have castle-building contests and maybe equipment on hand, a la New York, to haul equipment from one place to the next?
It shouldn't take a fortune.
As for the adults in town, we could all start thinking about how to do some exciting things in our city that would make it more fun and prettier. And it need not cost a lot.
A few ideas I had:
• How about turning the plaza in front of city hall into a park filled with tables and chairs, where we could buy ice cream, desserts, coffee and wine and sit around and lick and sip away.
• Why not have colorful banners deck the rim of the park? The banners need not be immense but they could serve as a visual magnet to City Hall.
• Why not have the city buy one of the old buildings perhaps on Alma Street, and turn that area into another restaurant park? A new park downtown near the Homer Avenue tunnel could reinvigorate that part of town.
• Why not stage a cluster of colorful banners in certain parts of the downtown?
I think that if we all think creatively about Palo Alto, we could come up with a lot of neat ideas that need not cost much. What are some of yours?
on Jan 15, 2007 at 7:00 pm
If you've actually been to Mitchell Park lately, you must not have been looking too closely. Eight years ago, when the city had scheduled Mitchell Park for renovation with standard-issue plans and equipment, several neighbors including the sixth grade Connections class at JLS, argued that the original design was unique and shouldn't be scrapped or ignored. The Parks Department, with encouragement from the Architectural Review Board, agreed to re-think the re-design. They even consulted the original architect of the park, Robert Royston.
Many of the best parts of the original design were retained and refurbished, including the tunnels / gopher holes and the unique lanterns. i would say it is still a creative playground.
on Jan 17, 2007 at 9:23 pm
Thanks for paying attention to Parks.
This year Mitchell Park will be celebrating it's 50th anniversary. It continues to be studied in universities around the world for its ground breaking concepts and designs. The landscape architect Robert Royston is still living and a book was recently released on the impact of his work.
In 1999 many of the original features were slated for removal. ( See comment above) Due to community activism important aspects of the park and play structures were retained. Mitchell Park is a marvel in our midst. We need to celebrate and honor its existence.
I agree - the world needs open social and play spaces - and more of them. I hope we can build contemporary thoughtful spaces like New York has done and I hope we can recognize a treasure we've fought to hold on to here.
on Jan 18, 2007 at 8:42 am
Back when Midtown was being "re-created" a few years ago "they" asked for community input as to what we would like to see there. I and a few others suggested a plaza type area where we could sit and drink coffee with perhaps a small play structure for toddlers, all done with amibience. This idea was ignored and instead we have a very ugly collection of strip malls, with a few tables outside many coffee shops. There is no where for young children to play while parents drink coffee and there is nowhere to eat outside the one sandwich shop (subway) and instead the staff illegally park their cars outside. Now where was any design in all of this I ask you?