Recreational time particularly in a public park is personal and shouldn’t be defined or dictated by the state or held ransom by profiteering and commercial interests.
Fences have become topical these days from the mighty versions planned in the head of the president of the united states, to the barriers of asylum, the psychological, as well as physical barriers of class, race, gender and commerce. The first thing we should think about in coming across a wall or barrier of any description is what is its purpose? For whose benefit?
The Radical Imagination Project tries to encourage folk to become involved in public life, because we believe it is the only hope we have for stopping the neoliberal project that has infiltrated every aspect of our private and public life. To a point which exposes just how lax our government has been that we now find ourselves subservient to possibly the worst and most dangerous western government administration in history.
The above may seem to many a bit OTT with what we want to discuss here. But on the contrary, we need to use local threats on our door steps as lessons of understanding the ways of how the world works and the bigger challenges we will inevitably face now and in the future. Particularly for the benefit of our young and also to reinvigorate our jaded spirits for the rest. If we fail to do this we are dooming our children to the consequences of one generational thinking.
We owe the present generation an opportunity to break with the tyranny and propaganda of an abusive system that processes them through an education ideology in order that they become good servants to that system. And now is attempting to destroy their innovative spirit through debt and even their basic right to the wider commons through commercialisation, particularly of green space. One of the last frontiers of the neoliberal project.
Our city parkland in our dear green place is also the last bastion of a fading communal spirit that is in need of revitalisation. A parklands benefits are based on the value to the whole community not on the cost to the administration as an excuse to privatise them. We have the right to roam and enjoy the quiet with our kids, our friends, our dogs, or our imagination.
When the parks are fully commercialised and turned over to the profiteers by our council, we will never get them back out. Because commerce is about expansion not conservation. There can be no “finding a balance” with aggressive commercial enterprises, who if need be, will criminalise, vilify and litigate against communities to protect “their” parkland developments and the profits gained from them.
Think about it. What has been developing over the last few years in our parks is pretty much intolerable and the parasites (events managers) are only getting started. Bellahouston, Glasgow Green, Kelvingrove, Queens Park and more are now being described by administrators and asset managers as commercial entertainment venues. Ticketed for profits, not for normal use for people.
In protecting our parks for future generations we need to make sacrifices. We need to give up some ruckus pleasures for the common good. Even the young will need to start thinking about where their own children will play and how much it will cost in social impact and financial disadvantages if we continue to give in to promoters of entertainment, alcohol and junk food. Remember the young are not young forever and we can not leave this for our children to sort out.
Example: Since 2011 or so we have had a school built in Kelvingrove park (which is we need to remember is a commercial enterprise) a bandstand that has been commandeered from social use to commercial use, two cafes and recently permission given to events agents by council administrators to invade, colonise and fence great swathes of our parkland throughout the summer. Mostly to sell alcohol and expensive events tickets.
Commercial creep doesn’t take long to establish itself. For instance in the introduction to Hillhead primary, on the school website, the head teacher finds it “very fortunate to be located next to Kelvingrove Park”. But the school is not located next to Kelvingrove park. The school is “in” Kelvingrove park. Our commons and common good fund assets are continuously eroded by these miss-interpretations of geography and public land use. Maybe a future head teacher, if things go on the way they are, will be explaining to the future parents, i.e. those attending the school at present why there is little free un-commercial space in the park for there kids to play.
Parks administration are not facilitating the use of these services, (parks) but dictating how they should be used. What they, wish to see in them. That is not their job, that is our job. Their job is to do what the “public” have asked them to do, not what business suggests. We employ public servants for their skills in first accounting to the public will and using their imagination in promoting ideas that are conducive to and may be of some social and cultural sustainable value.
What is happening in Glasgow’s parks is a microcosm of what is happening all over Scotland. Like the selling off of the shores of Loch Lomond to private investors. (Flamingo Land) According to the academic and land reformer, Jim Hunter, speaking about land sales in Scotland. “this equates to the most concentrated pattern of land ownership in the developed world”. What is the government doing about it? Nothing. As is Glasgow City Council in the privatisation of our commons and commercialisation of our parks.
But as has been said many times from these quarters. It is not the council or parliament or Westminster that is the problem in the inverted colonisation of public space. That’s just what most of these administrators do, make it easier for business to take over, because it makes it easier for them to make us believe that they are doing their job. It is not because we do not have the knowledge of the illegality of the sale of land and the commons, nor the experts who can testify to this, nor enough people complaining. We do. The problem is, for many reasons, is in the frustration of the public to do anything about it. We are still complaining. When we need to be organising. We are still pontificating. When we need to be educating.
There is a hard core of dedicated people in the background who have given up their time and energy and still do to to protecting our commons from investors, to keep our parks user friendly, open and autonomous, for the use of all. We can share in that knowledge and these connections to continue to build a sustainable vision for our parks.
Join us soon for a Parks and the Common Good exposition/workshop. Date, late August to be confirmed.
If you are interested, have something to say/share, want to help organise in any way, or just need some information. Email Bob at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Useful links Parks/Commons
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