For non-Seattle readers: Bell Street Park is a new public space in the middle of Belltown. Belltown is a lot of residential towers and social services (non-enticing combination), and the city and community groups are trying to make the neighborhood a pleasant place to spend time. One way they’re doing this is with changes to Bell street — a bit confusingly, as it’s a bus thoroughfare by location, but now a human space by intent / paving / colorful patio furniture that every city seems to have ordered for their public lawns.
Anyway, they had an open meeting for ideas (that I missed) and an email address to send comments to. Unfortunately, the email address is misconfigured and rejects mail, so I’ll just post my letter here. Slightly better because you, reader, can add your thoughts, though I encourage you to send them in to email@example.com directly (when that email gets fixed).
I’m Lu — I’ve lived in Capitol Hill for about 2.5 years, but spend a good portion of my leisure time in Belltown, whether at Belltown Dance Studio, shopping / dining, or at friends’ apartments.
Here are some of my thoughts and suggestions re: Bell Street Park — I hope they are helpful for your consideration.
* Bring in more social dance / exercise opportunities. (a la Bryant park: get the women and everyone else will come) I see that there are already classes at Belltown CC and Belltown Dance Studio’s outdoor salsa nights — these are a great start, and I’d like there to be more. Perhaps the Olympic Sculpture Park’s outdoor yoga series could be expanded to use BSP. I wonder if local contradance groups could also be encouraged to have dances outside — the long space is ideal, and indoor spaces get too hot in summer.
* Encourage whimsy — Perry Church
+ friends used rain-resistant ground paint (not sure of exact composition, cost, or half-life) to paint uplifting messages visible only when it rained. (link
) Similarly, people love the witty, current events-driven humor at City Market.
Bell Street could be part of this by having an artist / volunteer with decent writing to rain-write quirky messages; these messages could be from government agencies (“service changes 2/14”) or user-submitted, via twitter / facebook.
* Enable play — My favorite place in the world is Louisiana Museum of Modern Art just north of Copenhagen. I love it for the giant slides, fascinating treehouses, and interactive exhibits, which encourage adults and children alike to create and imagine.
BSP could give the same opportunity to Seattlites simply by putting out boxes of chalk during high-use times. Chalk is cheap and temporary, without technological barrier, but a few boxes drawn and you have hopscotch game.
People also love to be heard without risk: BSP could be a place for confessions and encouragement, jokes and puns, thereby building community among strangers.
* Create comfort — Portland Loo (club-goers and transit users will all thank you)? Is there already a water fountain? Shade from the sun / protection from the rain?
Huh. It appears that I’ve put my name homophonically into these suggestions quite a bit.