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Use the park

03.20.2013 by André Natta · → 2 Comments

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2013-03-18 14.05.02

Saying Birmingham is angry and frustrated with the senseless shooting and death of 15 year old Jarmaine Walton at Railroad Park on Sunday evening would be an understatement. Edward Bowser captured the opinions of many with a piece he shared on al.com on Tuesday. It’s also received a great deal of comments demonstrating the complacency and resignation that’s long plagued this region.

There are at least two public displays of solidarity planned in the coming weeks as I write this – one this Saturday, March 23, and another on March 30. I’m planning on heading out there for at least one of them, weather and schedule permitting. It will no doubt serve as proof Birmingham will not be held hostage by this killing as it continues to show progress. Or does it?

After these larger events are over, there’s one more way you can show everyone how important the city is to you. You can use the park.

Use all of Birmingham’s parks – as often as you can.

Monday afternoon, I hung out at Railroad Park just before the rain storms blew through town. Some have commented on what I chose to post as my status at the time, “Sometimes to be the change, you’ve just got to show up.” It’s a rather simple approach, but a very effective one.

It’s time to show up, Birmingham – and to keep doing it. The folks in the picture up above did.

Public spaces are our community’s living rooms, places where we can gather together, relax, enjoy, and learn. If we want to continue to call Railroad Park “Birmingham’s Living Room,” we need to continue to do all of those things for months and years to come. There needs to be people out in and around the park for planned events in April like the Darter Festival, Opening Night across the street at Regions Field, and the park’s ongoing Thursday evening parties. It’ll be good practice for enjoying (and influencing) future development around the park. We as a community must also consider being at Railroad Park for breakfast meetings, during our lunch breaks, and perhaps an after work lap or two to walk or run off our stress.

The same should be considered at parks throughout the city, including McLendon (that’s the one Legion Field is located within), Ensley, McAlpine, East Lake, and Avondale. It is not the time to place everything at the feet of our city officials, though we are in need of their leadership at this time. We cannot use activism to solve all of our issues, but if “the people are the city” perhaps the people need to remind those wanting to control Birmingham with fear it’s no longer an option.

Does it needs to be an election year issue?  We are, after all, about to have what could be the most transforming municipal election in recent memory due to the mayor, council, and school board seats all being up for grabs at the same time.

Enjoying one of our many parks on a weekday evening or a sunny weekend afternoon is a powerful form of silent protests against violence.

Railroad Park has long been seen as one of the symbols of the new Birmingham, one unified as it attempts to redefine what it means to be a New South city. The best act of defiance in this instance is one of continued optimistic realism, sprinkled with the promise of new developments in the area surrounding the park.

André Natta is the stationmaster for bhamterminal.com.

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  1. […] and rallies, and they are often a useful tactic. But Andre Natta, who blogs at the Terminal, has another suggestion: just keep using the […]

  2. […] and rallies, and they are often a useful tactic. But Andre Natta, who blogs at the Terminal, has another suggestion: just keep using the […]