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ICYMI: 'On this Fourth of July, Remember that Public Space is Democracy’s Great Stage'


2020-07-03
BLM Protest "20-June_8289-72" by Scott Hess is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

 

This Fourth of July, ASLA President Wendy Miller, FASLA penned an Op-Ed for Metropolis Magazine on the importance of public open spaces in the civic realm.

"[...] Public space, broadly defined, is where the First Amendment moves from parchment to pavement. Parks, plazas, streets, city squares, the grounds of capitol buildings, and city halls: These are the great stages upon which civic life, democratic values, and constitutional rights play out. The right to free expression. The right to redress grievances. The right to peaceably assemble. Without abundant public spaces and free access to them, those principles have little meaning. Active citizenship and the built environment are inseparable.

"In big cities and small towns all across the country, protests have arisen in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Although most end up in the streets, many begin in public parks: Washington Park in Cincinnati; Kaiser in Oakland; Union in Chicago; Franklin in Boston; Patton in Detroit; Humboldt in Milwaukee; and countless others. Landscape architects understand that the beauty of our parks and civic spaces isn’t just in their design, but in their irreplaceable role as launching pad and reflection of our most cherished values.

"But too often over the past weeks, as protests have spread to every corner of the nation, the central promise of the civic realm has been turned on its head.

When law enforcement used tear gas and pepper spray to clear Lafayette Square in front of the White House, in order to facilitate a presidential photo op—they committed a violation of the rights of the protesters, and a perversion of the purpose of the park itself[...]"

Read the full Op-Ed at Metropolis > 

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Kevin Fry
Director, PR and
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kfry@asla.org

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Anita Wang
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