As an apartment-dweller, parks are my backyard. I spend parts of most days meandering tree-lined trails, smelling flower blossoms, saying hello to neighbors, and watching people frolic and play. I love our parks. They keep me whole.
Walking my local parks over the years, I’ve often reveled in all the glorious gifts that parks give us. I’ve wondered, Who made these parks? and silently thanked those unknown souls.
I’ve also marveled at how refreshingly radical parks are. In our urban landscapes—otherwise divided into private parcels—very few places are truly shared, and too many people have too little space to simple be. But we have our beautiful parks, and I knew one day, I wanted to write about them.
In 2018, I set out to do that. A PARK CONNECTS US (Owlkids Books, 2022) began as a giant word wall—a large messy page of words describing the myriad ways that parks make life better.
I drew on countless park memories—butterfly walks, kite flying and bicycle rides, soft, sandy beaches, deer at dawn, picnics and weddings and ball games and birding. Needless to say, the page was crowded, but I began to see the patterns.
There were words about nature, wildlife, and habitat. There were words celebrating diversity, community, and neighborly love. And there were words for joyful play and quiet contemplation.
Little by little, I stitched the most meaningful ideas together into a lively tribute to our urban parks that I felt children could understand and appreciate. Then I set out to learn the history of our parks. What inspiring discoveries I made!
A PARK CONNECTS US is simple and sweet, but the journey for me was profound. We owe a debt of gratitude to the leaders and workers, one hundred and fifty years ago and more, who labored with love and vision to create these special sanctuaries and strove to ensure that our parks would be, forever and always, shared.
Whoever we are, the parks are here for each and every one of us. That’s something we should really celebrate.