COMMENT: On neighborhood experiences that are unjustly temporary.

Green spaces have powerful impacts on land uses. In the case of public parks, that are safe and full of amenities for kids positive impact on property values is plausible. In terms of scenery in the customer property context, clients may feel more “whole” due to how the place is made and the nature of the brand. Between keeping it real and running the risk of the artificial, I worry about the missing playgrounds in our neighborhoods. Where there is a playground it may be more hostile than playful. I read an interesting thought about OpenStreets a few weeks back on Medium, made me think of the complex value of neighborhood experiences that are unjustly temporary.

In the article Marcela Guerrero Casas argues that building a common unity is woven one street at a time. Her reflection on OpenStreets Mitchells Plain is rather startling but only a remind of the interconnected dynamics of making places. Her case is that freedom of movement is essential to living freely. There’s a lot of evidence that reveals how spatial cognition is a mental skill children develop the more they are in contact with space–navigating through it (have a look at Mac Mashiri and colleagues on this topic). Our brains are wired in such a way that changing our route in our daily morning commutes, walks or other trips can actually tap into different synaptic connections. Referred to as the bubble-wrap generation (read on this in one of Karen Lucas’ reports), those children growing up in completely isolated car oriented commutes–seldom absorbing space, seldom confronting people. What happens when one day the park is open for everyone? What happens when once a month the street is open for us to meet and explore safely? What happens when this becomes regular everyday life? Articulated rather intriguingly Marcela refers to a multigenerational sense of ownership– I’m thinking about it as a permanent sense of self.

Cities can not be the only places young people aspire to be in, part of and build. The disrespectfully called “township” can easily be caught in a braindrain as a result of attitudinally crowding-out perceptions of scalable opportunities. Something as simple as a well maintained green space, restricted for sober toddlers, youth and old, could have transformative impacts on neighborhoods. Associated with the right landscape design, furnishings, playthings and transportation networks a certain element in our cognitions of being could be invigorated by the young painter working in public.

How would your town feel if there were parks and green places, open, sober and safe with diverse activities for young and old?

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