When I moved to the Fox Park Neighborhood years ago, the park was a negative place. I invited some longtime friends who lived in the neighborhood years before we did to meet up at the park with our kids when we finally settled down. We knew them from my kids’ school at the time. They said they don’t let their kids play in the park and they quit going there too.
I thought that was kind of suspect, but knew they weren’t softies or overly protective helicopter parents. Then I started hanging out there myself and formed my own experience.
They were dead right. It was not a happy, safe place.
After many years and many waves of hard working neighbors with good intentions and positivity as the end goal, the park has become just that, a positive place.
A spray pad, basketball courts, trees, landscaping, signs, painted fire hydrants, a dog park, in-use baseball field and concession stands, youth soccer goals, and an under-renovation pavilion later, I feel like the park is almost “done”.
Please know, I’m not taking credit for this stuff, I was involved years ago and helped lay the groundwork for some of this stuff, but it was the public/private partnerships that worked. Lots of people were involved, not just a couple loud voices.
An artist designed the Fox Park logo. Another creative neighbor helped cut the lettering for our signs. A landscaper plotted out the corner plantings. Aldermen helped with money. Countless volunteers dug holes, spread mulch, poured concrete, installed trash cans, etc. Gateway Greening, the US Fish and Wildlife, our most kickass advocate and current alderwoman…they all chipped in with sweat equity and dollars.
Damn, the thing worked.
Point is, I feel like now that my kids are aging out of parks (for now anyway), I want to help another park elevate…experience the love our’s received. Use what I learned to help others.
In my experience, parks take people to get involved. Some parts of the city don’t have that critical mass of people with diverse skill sets and connections to make good. What if I/you/we could help?
What if there was an “adopt-a-park” program that could call together people with means to help another park get things going. It all starts with surveying the neighbors to see what THEY want, and going from there.
Building a team of like-minded do’ers.
What if you could go to a website and click to donate money, time or specific skills?
Thing is, I love my neighborhood/park, but I love others even more. But I can’t live in all of them. Seems like many parts of STL are skeptical of people who don’t live there…which is a damn shame.
I want to help. I think others would too. Why can’t the city parks department or a non-profit take this on to help raise funds/love for other parks that don’t get enough?
When our parks become assets vs. liabilities, pride emanates. I can vouch for that.
With healthy parks come less need for more unsanctioned, uncared for “greenspace”.
Why not? In this forgotten city, you can get stuff done very easily. No one will get in your way, they will try to help you.
I’m gonna keep thinking about this.