Monday, September 21, 2015

Fun without Food

 I talked to a youth at Union Square Park in NYC who told me, “there's benches for the seniors and a playground for the little kids but nothing for us.”

We want to make sure that we have enough variety in the park so that people don't need to leave in the middle of their activity to grab something to eat or drink," a Trust spokeswoman said Wednesday. "This is about making the Hudson River Park experience even better for our visitors."

The Problem:

Many conservancy parks and BID plazas offer adults  a great variety  of  "Food as Recreation" choices, but offer little more then a  place to sit  as an  alternative to Food Recreation.

If you want to have fun eating, they make it as easy as possible.

If you want to have fun without eating you gotta "bring your own" fun

This is a problem. Why?  Because the United States has an obesity crisis and offering  no alternatives to food as recreation in our parks  helps make that crisis worse.

from fitCity 7
You would think our parks and other pubic spaces would be part of the solution as opposed to part of the problem.

Recently I talked to a parks  designer about food recreation and the lack of alternatives in the space he was designing. He then pointed out to me a playing field behind the eatery he was proposing.   No this is not an equivalent item.  . The eatery allows you to buy and eat while on the premise, a very convenient situation. To use the playing field you have to bring your own recreation equipment to the premise and then use the equipment , a very inconvenient situation.

The solution:

If a Park or BID Plaza offers staffed Food Parkhouses (aka food concessions) offering food as fun,  it should also be required to offer a staffed  "Fun without Food" Parkhouse.
The parkhouse-

-Can be a standalone one in the park
-can be having the food concession lend recreation equipment as part of its contract
-can be located in a library, when the library is adjacent to the park

The best solutions would be a standalone staffed parkhouse.


Stand Alone Parkhouse

To see what a really good staffed parkhouse looks like take a trip to Rockefeller Park, a New York State Park in Battery Park  City. They are open to the end of October.

Restaurant as parkhouse
Some restaurants also offer board games and other recreation objects...why not parks concessions?

Tony's Darts Away

9. Tony's Darts Away
You probably already know about Tony's, the low-key bar that supplies Burbank with California craft beers and vegan sausages. You can usually find a seat on the patio, and Tony's/ Golden Road Brewing owner Tony Yanow himself might come around and ask how your Heal The Bay IPA is tasting. Inside though, things are a bit different.
Thanks to a fat stack of board games on a book shelf against one wall, most of the tables are engaged in rousing play. Battleship is a favorite, as is Scrabble, chess and nearly any variation of most card games. The attitude is always friendly, if competitive, and Tony's even hosts day-long gaming sessions for hardcore players. If you need to shake off a bad Battleship sinking, hit the pool table at the back of the room. link

Library as Parkhouse

 “Our Library checks out basketballs to be used on the courts near the library.  We also have frisbees, jump ropes and hacky sacks available to borrow. The balls have been replaced many times through the years and have resulted in much good will with the kids after school. When they (the kids!) start bouncing off the walls, we suggest they bounce a basketball instead.”  link

 By lending recreation equipment a library adjacent to  a park can assume the function of recreation equipment parkhouse for that park. A stream of funding for the recreation collection can be set up to come from some of the park  concession revenue.
To see  examples of Library as Parkhouse check out this post.