Monday, October 27, 2008

Homeless in Los Angeles.

A journalist in LA went undercover as a homeless person to examine what happens when parks become privatized. The author Matthew Fleischer, poses a great question: "In a world that hinges upon cleanliness and safety, what happens when a little dirt gets in?"

The Grove, the Americana’s spiritual antecedent, is the most prominent, and successful, 21st-century attempt of the private sector to fill the void of public life in Los Angeles. Its critics, like those of Disney before it, dismiss the Grove as a manufactured universe free of the gruff realities of urban life. Yet the Grove attracts more people than even Disneyland, while the withered Pan Pacific Park, right next door, offering all the opportunities one could want for “real” public interaction, is barely used.

The Grove is safe and clean because, as a private development, it has control over who and what to allow. Unlike a public park, the Grove can legally toss the overtly political, the intoxicated or the indigent out — eliminating the fringe and ensuring a beigist medium for safe social and commercial interaction among the majority.

Though critics continue to spew impotent rage at the Grove, the space is what it is — a fancy outdoor mall. The Americana, however, while aesthetically and conceptually similar to the Grove, is a much, much different story. It is a strange and uncertain hybrid.

When Rick Caruso agreed to develop the 15.5-acre plot of city land in Glendale that would become the Americana, he assented to creating a new town center — replete with housing, retail and public space. The selling point of the project was the development of a new, 2-acre park at its center, which would be open for public use. Glendale agreed to provide the land for the entire development, free of charge, with the condition that the city would retain ownership of the park. Caruso Affiliated would be responsible for its design and maintenance.

The result is what L.A. Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne describes as “a public space masquerading as private space that is masquerading as public.”

Or, as Hemingway might have said, the park is a park is a park is an onion.

Makes you really appreciate our great parks here in Columbus. If you haven't checked them out, all the info for the parks in the Columbus metropolitan can be found here. My personal favorite is Sharon Woods, but they're all great. Take advantage of them!