Sunday, June 1, 2008

Our Town Our Park

Over the past 5 days, I had the opportunity to participate in something amazing. Our Town Our Park is a community designed and built play area at Storvik Park in Anacortes. Knowing I was able to be part of this is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Never before have I seen first hand a community of people come together for a singular purpose, to build a safe, fun place for our kids to play. Kids designed the nearly 15,000 square foot play area with the help of Leather & Associates of New York. Community members and businesses volunteered their time, tools, and skills not to mention providing food, day care space, and helping in other less visible ways. To build this park outright it would cost the city more than $500,000... This park was built with 100% donated funds totaling more than $150,000 plus equipment and supplies.

Wednesday was the kick-off with the kids parading down M Avenue to the park, followed by a groundbreaking ceremony including a time capsule. Shifts of volunteers worked from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday to build this park. Meals were provided. Childcare was provided. I worked Thursday morning from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. drilling pilot holes for lag bolts that support the structures. It is Sunday night and my shoulders still hurt, but it was worth it. On Saturday, I brought Ethan down to the kid’s work area where he soaped screws (it makes them easier to screw in) and painted a tile. The tiles will be placed throughout the play area. Then Sunday evening at 5:00, they held a “grand opening.” The plan was to use a paper chain made by the kids as a “ribbon” around the park. The kids carried the chain around the perimeter and were quietly waiting for what to do next, when all of a sudden they went for it! 200+ kids converged on this play area at once. Unfortunately, that was not part of the plan. I was so caught off guard, I didn’t even get a photo of all these kids suddenly running for it. Eventually, the appropriate people were able to make their speeches, though to a much smaller crowd, and the Washington State Poet Laureate Sam Green (an Anacortes native) read the poem he composed specifically for the park. Ethan enjoyed playing in the new park for about an hour. He only got hurt once (a minor cut lip) when he got too close to the “big kids” swings.

Throughout the last 5 days, I’ve seen many examples of the joy and pride this project brought to the community. On Thursday morning, I met a young man (about 11) whose mom let him out of school to participate in the build. He told me how excited he was to be involved and I could see the pride in his face. Another girl, upon seeing the completed park for the first time, stopped short and just stared mouth agape. I have lived in this town for over a year now and today, for the first time, I really felt like part of the community.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a really wonderful experience for everyone who participated, and the best part is the kids have a great place to play now!