Pocket Parks

So I was thinking…or so goes the line. We have a couple of great spaces where we could have little “pocket parks” right in the downtown area. In a way, that is what TORCH is working to do, but I am also thinking about true greenspaces compared to a boardwalk. What is a pocket park? According to an article by Alison Blake, “pocket parks, also known as minipark or vest-pocket parks, are urban open space at the very small scale. Usually only a few house lots in size or smaller, pocket parks can be tucked into and scattered throughout the urban fabric where they serve the immediately local population.” Philadelphia was one of the first cities to do it. Savannah has a whole series of them. Now cities, big and small, are coming together through community activism, foundations, and public-private partnerships to install these little gems anywhere there is vacant lot that might currently be an eye soar, or a hidden away and forgotten space that you only consider from time to time. In fact, Hartwell already has a large version at the incredible Botanical Garden. If you haven’t been, you really must! The flowers are blooming, there are trails to walk, and even a playground for the kids to play on. It is a perfect park. What I am advocating is for a miniature (or several miniature) versions around the downtown area. There are places, both on and off the square that are within walking distance that would be ideal. It will take some work though. Convincing folks is the first task. The investment is worth it! The economic benefits of greenspace in communities is not questionable. But never mind that, “greenery within pocket parks can help regulate microclimates and act as the ‘lungs’ of the city, while permeable surfaces increase infiltration.” Alison’s article goes on to talk about how smaller “pocket parks” within walking distance of a city center, reduce wear and tear on bigger parks where active play might take away from their ecological functions. Investments in these parks create a win-win. You can enjoy your lunch outdoors, bigger parks won’t need as many resources devoted to repair, and the ecosystem benefits in many ways. I wonder if there are any other like-minded folks that want to build a coalition and start a pocket park? A little effort will go a long way.

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