I saw this cover for the October 2011 Walrus Magazine and I was immediately jazzed. I’m not known for my treehuggability nor my green conscience so it wasn’t the environmental elements of the cover story that captured my attention… it was the image.
See – I’ve been living in YYC for several years now and I’ve have these long lost nostalgic memories of areas of the city that existed before urban sprawl. Most of these memories involve me traipsing through a farmers field in order to get to the highway to hitchhike but now – where there once were cows and hay bails are man-made lakes, carbon copy homes and cell phone towers.
As I’ve been thinking and imagining the urban landscape I’ve been thinking about a community art project that engages people to reclaim and use forgotten and unappreciated urban green spaces. There are little pockets of green spaces that are generally well maintained that strike a strong juxtaposition between urban sprawl and urban greenery – namely, highway/roadway on ramps and off ramps.
These well manicured and large tracks of land have little redemptive use apart from a green buffer between lane ways yet they could be used for parks, picnics, community events and not-profit promotion. Some of the off-ramps have been used by the city to provide extra space for YYC Roads projects like storing road salt but the vast majority of them are not used. Some are just green grass while others have tree lined spaces that are just screaming for a picnic table, a fire pit and a pick up game of bocce.
The only real challenge is playing frogger with the traffic while dragging your foldable chairs and cooler.