My Personal Crusade: Flood Facebook with Images of Parks!
Michael Halicki, Executive Director of Park Pride
Politics has come to dominate Facebook. Some of us, myself included, have taken it upon ourselves to give voice to what surely “all of us are thinking” only to find that a long-distance friend or family member bursts our bubble. Facebook was once a place to stay connected with friends and family. Today, it has become a place of division.
In an effort to reclaim the social media universe, some have suggested we flood our Facebook feeds with positive images of works of art in an effort to drown out the political nastiness. One creative counter revolutionary offers step-by-step instructions for how to replace the faces of political leaders with those of furry felines. I appreciate these random acts of disruption. On a personal level, I identify with them.
Since taking on the role of executive director at Park Pride four years ago, I have taken to posting images of my work-related experiences in parks as well as my park-related journeys on weekends. As the political temperature has escalated this year, I have stepped up my game and redoubled my efforts as my own random act of disruption on Instagram and Twitter. My goal has been simply to show the beauty that I find in parks – the intricacies and complexities of a flower or a piece of art, a smiling face (often, my own children’s), a crowd of Atlantans on picnic blankets enjoying a concert in Grant Park.
Through this experience, an unanticipated thing happened: my visual sensibilities have grown. I’ve begun to see the world around me in a whole new way. Through this experience, I began to appreciate the full measure of what Park Pride refers to as the “power of parks,” and have come to learn that the power of parks is best expressed in pictures rather than words. The images are evidence for how parks enhance our lives. For some, that experience is a soccer match, a pick-up game of basketball or a round of disc-golf. For others, it is chance to play imaginative games with neighborhood kids at the playground or to meet other parents with young children. Some go to parks to spot wildlife, hear the rushing water of a creek, commune with nature in the city – and to forget that they’re still inside I-285.
The bottom line is that parks aren’t just the physical infrastructure of benches, pavilions and trash cans. They are places that define our experience of living in Atlanta. People in Atlanta have a close, personal relationship with parks. We love our parks. Parks are places where neighbors become friends. Groups of friends become community.
For those on Instagram and Twitter, I would encourage you to check out my personal photographic journey through the greenspaces and trails of our city and Georgia as a whole (my handle on both platforms is @halickim). When you post your own park images, tag Park Pride (@parkpride on Twitter and Instagram) and to use the hashtag #powerofparks. Join me in my efforts to flood the internet with the awe and wonder of parks and greenspaces!
If you are interested in taking things a bit further, I would suggest you consider one additional option that will be even more rewarding than my plea to join my social media crusade. Consider turning off your phone, unplugging for a while and simply go to a park. Experience these bountiful public places and all they have to offer. Witness the range of people and the range of experiences. Parks can provide what we most need to recharge and refresh our outlook on life.