Thursday, March 27, 2014

Pocket Parks

So who knows what a pocket park is? Our guest blogger Melanie McKinnon is about to tell us.

A pocket park is a small park accessible to the general public. Pocket parks are frequently created on a single vacant building lot or on small, irregular pieces of land. Wikipedia

A Google search on this topic yielded lots of information not only about the benefits of green spaces in busy urban environments but also findings from specific projects around the world. Anyone who has visited New York will be familiar with the fabulous pocket parks that have grown up around the city. The impact of pocket parks in cities such as Philadelphia with high crime rates and dysfunctional communities is described in the following extract

Research from Philadelphia ‘has found that distressed neighborhoods where vacant lots have been converted into small parks and community green spaces are associated with reduced crime when compared to neighborhoods with unimproved vacant lots.  In some sections of the city, residents of neighborhoods with improved vacant lots also reported ‘significantly less stress and more exercise,’ suggesting that the improvements had an effect on residents’ perceptions of safety outdoors.'
I am sure most would agree that Tighes Hill boasts two outstanding examples of how the conversion of vacant sites into community gardens has contributed to the physical and emotional well-being of individual residents and to the general sense of safety and neighbourliness that exists within the suburb. More recently the residents of Mitchell St and surrounds used a vacant site on Throsby creek to create a pop up pocket park with minimal resources but maximum benefit for its users
And there can be no doubt that the work undertaken in Islington Park over recent years has had huge benefits in changing the image of the park, creating a stronger sense of ownership and community pride and contributing to the overall wellbeing of those who use the park.
There may be a number of potential pocket park sites around Tighes Hill ranging from larger spaces that can be used for recreational purposes to smaller spaces that once cleaned and greened may generate a stronger sense of ownership and pride. An additional benefit might be that those passing through our suburb see that we care about our physical environment
One such spot is a small irregular plot of ground on the shoulder of the bridge at the end of Bryant St  - anyone using the steps that lead from Bryant St down to Tighes Terrace will be familiar with the site. In recent times there have been some attempts to clean and green the area the most recent being to remove weeds, cut grass and lay mulch – courtesy of Kings Rd Community garden. 
In spite of the dry conditions cuttings of low growing shrubs have survived providing the motivation to persevere with the project. Not surprisingly the activity at the site has been the impetus for interaction with numerous passers- by whose comments have been encouraging and whose conversation has provided insights and stories about the suburb
Anyone passing this site is welcome to pull a weed or two or pour a bottle of water on the plants – identified by small wooden stakes at the site of the plant.
Is there an area crying out to be a pocket park near you?

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