About the Park Dreams Project – from Producer Miranda Loud
follow the PRX series at http://www.prx.org/series/32495-park-dreams
Inspired in May 2011 by an encounter with a homeless man in the park whose dream is “to see this country from the east to the west coast free of cigarette butts” and who daily cleans the Boston Common with other homeless friends by collecting the butts and throwing them away, I wondered what sorts of dreams people in the park have if they were asked – dreams for humanity, the world in general, as well as personal dreams. What ideas for a better world could be shared to inspire others to think big and have courage to follow their vision?
Since May of 2011, I have been approaching willing strangers in three urban parks in the U.S. – Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY, The Boston Public Garden and Common, Millennium Park, Chicago, IL. I ask them several of the questions listed below and occasionally take video or still photos for use in later stories.
Why parks? Why not ask these questions of people on the street? You might already know the answer. It is because urban parks demonstrate what can be done when people have a vision. Urban parks show the importance of nature and a common space for contemplation, discussion, and playfulness. They are the great intersection in our democracy for people from all backgrounds and economic status and provide a common backdrop for engaging people on what it means to be human.
At this time in our country, and in the world, we need to embrace our commonalities and our ties to the natural world and really envision what sort of world we want to see. When we can hear the dreams and innovative ideas of others, it gives the listener courage and energy that is immeasurable but real.
In addition to an ongoing podcast for public radio and a theater piece, we are working with the directors of the parks to help create an interface for people to listen to the podcasts when they are sitting on a park bench. The podcasts can encourage more interaction between people in the park and create a sense of trust and optimism.
A trailer describing the Park Dreams project, a NatureStage initiative seeking funding which involves asking people in different parks around the U.S. about their visions for a better society and covering the following topics: arts education, environmental stewardship, our relationship with other species, building more trusting neighborhoods, among others.
Produced and edited by Miranda Loud with music by Scott Joplin (The Strenuous Life) performed by Miranda Loud. Photographs by Erika Sidor, Amie Wang, Ana Caras with permission from all the participants to use their words and images to further the project which will be a podcast. Learn more at http://parkdreams.wordpress.com/about/ and follow the PRX series at http://www.prx.org/series/32495-park-dreams
Some of the questions we are asking:
What brings you to the park?
How would you like to see humanity evolve over the next hundred years?
What is your dream for yourself, for your family, and for the world?
What sticks with you the most from middle school, high school and college?
Is there another species you’re particularly concerned about?
Are there any abilities or qualities in other animals that you admire?
What do you think is the role of artists in society?
What would be one way to make your neighborhood safer? Make it stronger?
Photo Credits: Ami Wang, Ana Caras, Erika Sidor. Art credits: Miranda Loud