I say this in the wake of a lively local park meeting in which various stakeholders got together to forge a vision statement for the park. Now, rationally, I can understand the importance of this – a central vision as opposed to willy-nilly projects here and there throughout the park with no consultation or process. Fer sure.
But there is a lesser, reptile part of my brain, deep, deep down inside (I promise I kept it subdued!) that just sat there, growling and snarling, as people passionately discussed the values the park embodies in their lives. It should be green, for instance, in every possible way. The park should be safe, and traffic-free.
Another group, paradoxically, listed both “access to wild nature” and “development of wild nature.” Lots of people were excited about the wildness and indigenousness of the park, which I find intriguing because it seems they don’t know that the whole thing was clear-cut to make way for a planned expressway in the 1970s. Most of the trees these folks cherish are younger than their eyebrows… indeed, I remember the year they cluttered up all the good toboggan hills with trees. “Wild nature” – harrumph. Plus, to be fair, you cannot simultaneously access the wild nature AND develop the wild nature, if by develop, you mean, “add playgrounds and water parks and other conveniences that make the park nice and fun for human people to occupy,” thus destroying the “wild” nature that previously inhabited that spot.
(By the way, the word Dogs is crossed out in the poster at the top not because dogs are not welcome in the park – O! indeed they are, and don’t even think about taking away their sacred right to park access for fear of yet another Democratic Process!) but because “Dogs” is not, as such, a value.)
Following the visioning / brainstorming process, we were each issued five “dots” in order to cast our “dot-mocracy” votes (yet another fake word to obsess over???). Just as in a silent auction, you can cast all five dots for the SAME value, or spread them around on different values – like if you want the park to be green AND include children AND old people. Oh, AND be vast. I think we all agreed that vastness is a value we can really get behind, in a park. Vastness and greenness and friendliness to the old. And traffic-free.
But wait: All this cynicism doesn’t mean I don’t laud efforts by the city to turn over park stewardship to people who actually live near and use the park in question. I think it’s fabulous. I hope the city is finally releasing its dictatorial stranglehold over parks – though I still hold out some feeble hope for enforcement of leashed-dog laws in the aforementioned park. The dogs, apparently, cannot yet read the wordless signs that indicate iconically they must remain on-leash at all times. Perhaps the dogs merely lack vision… or is that visioning?