It seems rather belated at this point-the day of the first meetup at Daley Park- but better late than never.
*And, as a reminder (and supplementary to the “Weekly Meet-Ups & Downs“ page where a brief mention appears) our gathering is set for 4 pm, Saturday, March 29th at Daley Park whereupon we will, as a community of fitness-minded locals, determine our objectives and propose some initiatives, demonstrating the userability of individual parks and public spaces, and experiment with games as a function of creative, sustainable exercise. In short, we are congregating to repurpose our parks through joyful exercise re-programming.
Let’s think of it as a “Re-Boot“ camp. My intention is for a bi-weekly meetup to evolve into a weekly to daily opportunity for community fitness. This is the future of fitness: outdoor, nature-based exercise wholistically built into a community that conceives of parks’ free form of recreation as invaluable to a healthy, cooperative, and resilient society. Bring your able body, your kids, water, your favorite ball (e.g. soccer, basket, foot, whatever). And RIDE YOUR BIKE!
Now let’s take a look at Daley. Located halfway between Broadway and Apache on the east side of College Avenue, it’s relationship to ASU and the family neighborhoods branching off of College’s busy thouroughfare spawns a fury of activity. There is an endless stream of bicycle, skateboard, in-line skate, running, walking and also regular pedestrian traffic, not to mention the “Jupiter“ Orbit route which ferries a bustling load of passengers along the way which invariably filters into this open greenspace running adjacent to the railroad. And while there is an ample helping of parents and children and college kids hoofing a shortcut through the lawn there is also a healthy dose of transients that accumulate around the restrooms and parking lot; they are generally out of the way, however the occasional drunken dispute can erupt into verbal fisticuffs, which certainly doesn’t add to the ambience, but flavor is flavor, no matter how unsavory. Am I right? As a result, the park is a definitive breezeway, teeming on a Saturday afternoon (note for our approaching assemblage) with a variegated collection of people and events. This is never good nor bad, but unique and different according to our intentions, so while it may be perfect to recreate socially, it may not if you are tending to children with less intensive supervision. As for me and mine, we love a “colorful“ bum and celebrate a long and noisy train, just not every time.
Spread through the park are several recreation features: multiple picnic benches (useful for incline pushups and tricep dips), three of which are covered, a sand playground with a large, single multi-dimensional playset (which I’ve found to be inaccessible for our purposes), a two-hoop basketball court, double sand volleyball courts, two softball fields, and a fenced-in multiple horse-shoe pit (quite unique). In addition, there is plenty of shade provided by an assortment of sturdy old trees, one of which, the “octopus tree“, is a familiar landmark to anyone who grew up in Tempe. There are scattered water fountains and a centrally-located restroom, indispensable to the frollicking parent-with-potty-trained-toddler.
With it’s proximity to the Broadmor family neighborhoods, ASU campus and the downtown there is a sense of grass-rooted, urbanized public space at work here. The railroad further traces an industrial thrwad through this park that sets it apart from others. You will not-with the exception of Kiwanis- encounter a more densely trafficked area for activity, albeit usually peripherally. To this end, Daley is a sort of community social garden, a confluence of Tempe’s varied personalties.
We will find much to do here, but as a focused fitness center, there is much lacking, or stifled, due to certain aspects of its design, but as a springboard it is a superior resource to begin the conversation of what is available and what the possibilities are for our parks (and our fitness and wellness) at large. Daley seemed a fitting origin for the circling-up of Tempe parks, for, on the one hand, it has ideal location along the central corridor (College Avenue) of Tempe’s burgeoning self-propelled traffic, but also due to its shortcomings as a fitness hub. So as we move from Daley to Carminati/Joyce to Kiwanis to Papago and on and on we will come to recognize more clearly the distinguishing features of a fitness-accessible park/public space.
No two parks are alike. In this uniqueness a collective pride in our local parks may be conceived and an appreciation for each park’s distinctive fitness landscape arises. Parks have many aspects explicitly designed for leisure and lounging, but recreation for the atonement of strength and beauty implicitly aspires toward something great, something beyond the steel machines and hamster wheels, something that should not have a monthly bill attached to it. Come with me now. The fire rises!