Activating Public Spaces
Part 1 Summer 2017 in the Lake City MiniPark
What attracts people most, it would appear, is other people.” —William H, Whyte, from The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces
Hidden in plain sight, the MiniPark is the heart of the Lake City Urban Core. You either love it, or hate it. Okay, you probably hate it. Maybe you’ve called it Porta-Potty Park because of its landmark feature. It collects trash and dirt and reminds us all men are created equal, but that it doesn’t always work out that way. Yet it is prime public space in the Lake City Neighborhood. Can we reframe how we think about this corner lot and invest it with purpose?
In Summer 2017, Lake City Future First (LCFF) hosted 10 free weekly concerts in the MiniPark with some of Seattle’s finest musicians and performers including Gansango, the Lance Lu Quartet and Skolkis. This is the second year of high quality programming through the “Put the Arts in Parks” grant from the Office of Arts and Culture and Seattle Parks Department.
LCFF launched an ambitious effort to activate our public spaces in 2016. Over two summers, LCFF, Seattle Parks and Recreation and the Lake City Branch Library have hosted over 48 free multi-cultural art performances in Lake City. This summer we saw families with strollers, jazz buffs with lawn chairs, neighbors coming for a concert and dinner, commuters getting off the bus and visitors driving through from Alaska all stop and wile an hour in the Park.
Public park plazas are the gems of urban environments. They may be named for a famous fountain or sculpture, but as Whyte says, what really attracts people is seeing other people. Plazas are an opportunities to enjoy public life–share a lunch, people watch, catch a sunbreak, see some art. As we shed our reputation of auto row and state highway and work towards a walkable neighborhood, activating public spaces is our key to a vibrant community.
Have ideas for artists you would like to see in 2018? Are you interested in writing a Put the Arts in Parks or Small Sparks Fund grant for a cultural event in our neighborhood? Contact us. Hope to see you at a concert in 2018.
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