“You can get the true essence of New Yorkers by just hanging out in Central Park.” Andy Roddick
I’m working on a lesson plan centered around citizenship and Central Park for my third graders. The fun part of the whole project has been finding out all the things one can do in Central Park.
While no park is perfect, it’s fun to imagine how to create a perfect place for people to get relaxation, motivation, and inspiration.
Here are three of the wonderful parks where I’ve spent some time:
Central Park creates relaxation – Last summer, I arrived in New York from Bangkok. You may know, the time difference is half-a-day, meaning that while New Yorkers sleep, Bangkokians are working and vice versa. By mid-afternoon, jet lag got the best of me, and we didn’t want to take the commute home for a rest. The simple solution was to go to Central Park and nap, which is what I did. Granted, we needed to designate a non-napper so that all personal belongings didn’t disappear, but otherwise relaxation was at a premium there. Central Park has many pros. There are sections for people who are exercisers, animal lovers, model boat racers, volunteers, concert goers, historians, artists, picnic takers, marionette lovers, runners, and many other types. Creating this perfect place for New York residents and visitors required coordinated efforts to include sections where many can relax based on a variety of personal styles.
Lumpini Park creates motivation – It would be difficult to go to Lumpini Park any early morning and just sit to enjoy coffee. Not that there aren’t many places provided for such an event, but because the whole park seems to be in motion, it would seem unusual to go there to sit. Unlike Central Park, Lumpini is walkable in a short time. While taking the walk around the park in Bangkok, Thailand, you will encounter dedicated groups of young and old alike here to exercise or to improve their health. Starting from the school entrance, you’ll walk with the crowd in a counterclockwise rotation and pass the elderly center where the more wise are lifting weights and enjoying loud chatter, laughter, and tea. Moving forward, you’ll pass the group exercising with bamboo poles, then groups with colorful fans and swords. Several groups will be participating in Tai Chi and other forms of ancient exercise. On the Rama IV corner, you’ll find the hard-core aerobics groups, the men’s heavy weight equipment and those going for a swim in the public pool. You’ll eventually pass the paddle boats and will attempt to avoid the newly painted bicycle lane. It would be difficult for even the laziest of people to just go to this park to sit, though I do see some on occasion—for one thing, the large monitor lizards encourage everyone to keep moving. The interactions of cultures, the eye candy for photographers, and the various places for movement are just a few of the many pros of Lumpini Park.
Golden Gate Park creates inspiration – Though today’s news debates whether or not fees will ban private picnics, parties, and weddings in the park, we can certainly look to Golden Gate Park for inspiration. Even if you’re not at all artsy or keen on culture, it will be difficult to leave this park uninspired. Among the many pros of Golden Gate Park are its inspirational museums and cultural gardens. California Academy of Sciences, a fairly new section since 2008, inspires us to think about preserving the environment with its eleven science fields of investigation and its 38,000 living animals of various species living within the structures. Other museums and gardens include: De Young Museum, Rose Garden, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Japanese Tea Garden,Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden with its windmills, Conservatory of Flowers and many others.
If you want to create a place where others find enjoyment, go for areas that help us all feel relaxed, motivated, and inspired. What parks do these three things for you?