We went to the Park again today, and I somehow feel I should apologize. It’s not the sort of park that I grew up with, it’s another kind altogether. First of all it’s an indoor space and there are plenty of stores inside. Second it’s enormous. There are a couple of free things, like the concourses and the spaces in between the stores, and the fountain you love, and most of all, the air conditioning. The “Park” is a euphemism really. This is what people normally call a shopping mall. Now it’s probably called a retail and entertainment experience. That’s marketing speak.
Perhaps that’s part of the problem. More and more public spaces seem to be “free” these days — as long as you’re willing to buy something. You see it’s been hot recently, really hot, and it’s not so much that I love to take you to this place but the real parks, with their asphalt grounds and grounded out cigarette butts aren’t always a great alternative either. The sun seems to be burning hotter than ever. One of the parks we sometimes visit which has adequate tree cover and shade, as well as nice big slides also has a big humming electrical box in the middle right next to its slightly off kilter swings. Something doesn’t feel quite right about that either. Perhaps it’s powering our air conditioning.
I don’t want to sound like I’m blaming everyone else here. You see I’m part of the problem. What makes me sad is I can’t help but feel there’s a better way to go about things. I just don’t yet know how to do that without doing something drastic like unplugging myself from the system altogether, and that’s not an option. But maybe we could start by appreciating the value of outdoor green spaces, cool air and shelter from the sun as somehow more important than the economics of buying and selling things? Just a thought. Maybe we need some new metrics to measure success in society? Otherwise these places just might be the last refuge on a much hotter planet. At least, if you can afford to be in one.