Open space is essential to our well-being, whether it’s a high country wilderness or a patch of urban green. Jasmine Jaksic learns that a park is more than an amenity.
In 2017, my husband and I went house hunting. We realized that although we were excellent at fixing things in the virtual world, our skills wouldn’t materialize with real world fixer-uppers. So we opted for new construction in a Mountain View community that didn’t quite exist.
The development included plans for a 2.7 acre park – one of those ‘eventually’ features. I didn’t attach a lot of value to this detail. My relationship with parks was akin to vestigial parts like tonsils or an appendix. I knew they existed and could even roughly point to their location, but didn’t quite know their value.
All that changed when our son Oliver was born. In our little community that doesn’t have backyards, parks and playgrounds are a boon to families with young children. I no longer view parks as green spaces that separate rows of houses. They are communal havens that distract kids and dispense vitamin D.
I don’t see playgrounds as noisy regions relegated to spirited children. It’s an asylum for parents who nod at each other, as if to say, “I see the black circles around your eyes and raise you a broken back and a torn ligament.” Never have I been more grateful for even an aging playground than when the pandemic hit and daycares shut down. Even with the yellow tapes strategically wrapped around the creaky swings and shabby slides, it kept my son busy. Granted, he was busy trying to dismantle those tapes.
The playgrounds have been nice, but the park the developers promised remained an illusion. However, this spring the “weed farm”, as my son lovingly called it, has finally been replaced with a concrete foundation. The makeshift graveyards the children built for various critters have now given way to overnight trees inside see-through fences.
As someone who shrugged off this park as a ‘nice-to-have’ amenity, I find myself walking around the construction zone several times a week with my now 3-year-old son discussing all the possibilities it holds this summer.
With a Perspective, this is Jasmine Jaksic.
Jasmine Jaksic is a co-founder of a tech start-up and a writer. She lives in Mountain View.