Park as a social tool
Today, the park is not only a place for entertainment, but also a platform for creativity and solving social problems. Roman Romanov, President of the Non-Profit Partnership "Union of Associations and Partners of the Entertainment Industry" - on the role of parks in the infrastructure of a modern city.
Many experts in the entertainment industry have recently been talking about creating a new park culture and park ideology. And what is this new culture like?
The most powerful ideological component was in the Soviet Union. We had parks of culture and recreation, both physical culture and sports, and theatrical - with lectures, with green gardens and flower arrangements. There was an ideology of freedom, equality, brotherhood, friendship, respect for work.
I often hear that there is no ideology in modern parks. But I think that this is not so. For example, in Disneyland Park in Orlando, which has a capacity of 17 million people a year, there is a consumer ideology designed to make a person feel in a different environment, where everything works for him, where he is most important. This is the ideology of a holiday, rest.
Does this mean that Russian parks are also following the path of consumer ideology?
Not really. Russian parks are still looking for their own way of development. An active search for park culture has been going on for the last 5-8 years.
I believe that the ideology of the park is to give people joy! Now we are arguing which park is better: public (municipal) or commercial (with paid services), a walking park or an amusement park, large or small, who manages more efficiently? From my point of view, different parks are needed: the main thing is that they fulfill their main function - they bring pleasure and joy to people.
In my opinion, the park is a creative platform where you can experiment. If you want - promote the folk culture of your region, if you want - create a chic festival site. Make theme parks, for example, based on Russian folk tales, Soviet and world cartoons. Or arrange a petting zoo, which is built without grates and glasses, when you can pet, feed and take pictures with them as a keepsake.
This is not exactly the ideology of the consumer, but first of all, the ideology of the inhabitant of a particular city.
Perhaps the state ideology in the sphere of the family and interethnic relations could become a new park ideology.
What place in the city do you assign to the park?
Each of us has our own vision of what a park is. I call all green space in the city a park. And public gardens, and ponds, and landscaped places. Even small parks in the city play the role of beauty. People do not have time to go somewhere outside the city, to go to the forest, especially in large cities. In addition, parks are necessary for events - city day, festivals of national cultures, various other celebrations. Parks are specially prepared sites for such events.
How, in your opinion, can the city park space be organized so that both children and adults are interested in them?
I believe that public (municipal) and commercial parks with attractions should be developed in parallel. They have the same ingredients.
First of all, there must be greenery in the park. The first merchants of Siberia built gorgeous gardens. They wanted to amaze, brought plants, rare flowers, even fruit trees. And nowadays there are parks where you can see something unusual. For example, in Sakhalin there is a park where you can admire the cherry blossoms.
The second component is architecture: buildings, structures, that is, what is the image of the park itself.
The third is why people go there: to have fun, to dream, to have fun. Even small parks are important for the landscape and recreational tasks in the city - for example, mothers with children can walk there.
Do parks promote civic engagement and the development of urban communities?
Of course, because a person cares where he lives. And now the courtyard spaces are packed with cars, there are very few lawns. And in this situation, people are ready to create a playground next to them, with their own hands, to improve their yard. They can even create their own park area. People often turn to me with a request to plant something in the park.
People really began to think and realize where they live and what they live for, what their city is famous for, what history it has, how it can be positioned, what can become a brand.
A park is an urban space where it is convenient to carry out various experiments. It's like a blackboard - if something doesn't work out, you can erase and write again.
How close to you is the current trend of using park spaces to involve people in charity and socially useful activities?
I am sure that the park is a gorgeous area for these purposes, come and organize what you want.
It is no coincidence that in 2009 SAPIR initiated the All-Russian charity campaign Let's Smile on a Sunny Day, which for 5 years in a row unites all caring people from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok. With the help of park visitors, tickets for attractions are paid for children from large families, orphans. During its existence, the action was supported by more than 100 parks. More than 100 thousand tickets for attractions were collected for children in need. And on the day of the action, the children themselves put tickets for the attractions into the "solar piggy banks" and say: "Let someone else ride."
Why such an initiative is useful for beneficiaries and visitors is understandable. But what does this give directly to the park?
Initiatives such as the action "Let's smile at a sunny day" are designed to draw the attention of the general public to parks of culture and recreation as a platform for the implementation of social activity of the population, to show that we are open to people, the media, and the authorities.
Returning to the question of ideology, we can say that in this way the ideology of kindness and beauty develops in parks.
Many people are now talking about creating an accessible environment in the city. What steps are being taken to make city parks accessible to people with disabilities? Are there any positive examples already?
The most striking example is Sochi. I was there recently. Indeed, all Olympic venues, including parks, are wheelchair accessible. Sochi Park is a theme park adapted for people with disabilities.
A playground for disabled children will open this summer in the city garden of Tomsk. The park's management has invested in the re-equipment of the "Tomsk Fortress" - a playground for children with attractions, swings and carousels, on which children with disabilities can play - about four million rubles. It may be a small space, but people with disabilities can move around on it. That is how it should be!
This topic is also raised in our professional community. We are thinking about creating a special department in our association to deal with this issue. We need to prepare projects, seek funding, and implement them. But this is not the task of just one business.
What world practices of urban formats do you like and would you like to borrow them for Russia?
In Italy there is a small town of Siena. It is home to somewhere around 60 thousand people. Twice a year, they hold horse races in the central square. The whole structure of the city, its management is based on these races. Each neighborhood chooses a symbol of an animal, finds a senior manager, finds a horse, allocates a house for it, looks after it, looks after it, buys a rider. People live in a holiday. And this makes people unite. If someone has a child, they go to the whole city to congratulate, someone died - everyone goes to bury. I like these urban formats, they bring people together.
Interview prepared by Yulia Vyatkina
Date of publication: April 3, 2014