Are parks bad?
These quarantined bits of land and water speak to a confused desire for some kind of “nature”—and they might be good for our health—but do they also serve to excuse our continued bad behaviour?
Parks are not innocent. City parks are real estate assets and urban “amenities” created by planners, landscape architects, hydrological engineers, police consultants, and others. National parks claim to preserve wilderness, but they are carefully managed too and, in North America, their histories involve the dispossession of Indigenous Peoples. Our experiences of most iconic parks have been designed and commercialized with the support of tourist agencies, park wardens, anti-pest flights, and other control systems. Parks are industries as well as ways of hiding industrial wastelands and disguising embarrassing infrastructures.
So would we be better off without parks?
On 25 May, two teams will debate this question, asking whether or not we should keep parks, and what would happen to the city if we got rid of them. What would then take the place of “nature,” and how might we begin to relate to it? Debaters will include Sarah Dunn, an urbanist at UIC/GSAPP and co-founder of UrbanLab; Karen K. Lee, President & CEO, Global Fit Cities, and previous inaugural Healthy Built Environment and Active Design Director for New York City; Nikita Lopoukhine, a former Director General of Parks Canada; Martin Lukacs, an environmental journalist for The Guardian; and Martin Rein-Cano, the founder of Topotek 1.
With support from the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation
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