EDWISE  - EDITOR AND EDUCATION CONSULTANT
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Eye of the Optimist-parks

I went across town to enjoy the fresh air and atmosphere in a large city park yesterday. With a reservoir plum in the middle of it, a theme appealing to children, and a grand old Buddhist temple near by, it offers plenty of amusement and attractions. It was a cloudy damp day that suppressed the changing fall colours, but we enjoyed ourselves. The excursion to a large park was a welcome diversion from our work-a-day lives.

City parks benefit residents immensely. Not only is the green space healthy for air quality and nature, they are relaxing spaces that allow exercise family or friendship time. They break up the monotony, oppressive power and stress of cement and steel construction with its imposing demands of conformity, time -keeping, and labour. They allow for reflection and novelty of thought because they let us break away from dominating paradigms and a life governed by the clock. In parks, we can alleviate stress and let our minds wander or simply suspend themselves.

One could contrast the presence of city parks in one area with their absence in another to appreciate the benefits of parks. My companion for the outing commented that cities in his country, Vietnam, do not have many parks or other types of public spaces. He said that few people exercise. Rather, most people dart around trying to fulfill obligations, get work done, buy or sell to the max, and meet deadlines. The city air and streets are dirty. People do not think of creating green spaces or taking time out, in his opinion. To him, the availability of city parks offers welcome relief from the stress and hustle-bustle.

It may be less green, but I don't think the urban situation in Vietnam is quite as extreme as my friend pictured it. I have been to Ho Chi Minh City where he lives, albeit for a short stay, and I can say that there are some public spaces, like a riverside walkway, street markets and restaurants, the yards around temples and state buildings, plazas and rotundas. To be sure, there are not many trees and flowers, as far as I could see. I guess the difference is the vegetation and colour. 

Parks can improve the urban atmosphere. They help keep us in a positive frame of mind and support the natural environment. We should support parks and help to improve and expand them.

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