Finding a Home in Parks Across the Nation

Finding a Home in Parks Across the Nation

By Zoe Smith.
Hello all! My name is Zoe Smith and I am an intern here at Art Spark Texas through Bennington College. 

Zoe is riding on an animal statue in a park.  Their feet are off the ground and they look happy.  The animal is carved out of a stone and appears to be a deer.
Taken in Pittsburgh.

One thing I miss the most about life before the pandemic is traveling. My friend and I often drove a dozen hours to spend the night in a new city, only to head back the next day for work or class. These adventures are some of my fondest memories – driving to a city that neither of us had been to before and seeing what it offered. Our trips were often last minute, which led to nights with nothing to do.

We are both underage and look for cheap, safe things to do in cities, which naturally led to our exploration of parks. We collectively fell in love with parks. Exploring new places to sit and play cards, finding a place to watch the bustling city or just experiencing nature, were all things I realized I was craving. A change of scenery was doing wonders for my happiness. Traveling to new places provides a new outlook on life, but going to a park in a different part of town found can do similar things.

Zoe is leaning on the world’s largest roller skate. They are wearing dark sunglasses and their arm is bent to rest their hand on their face.
The world’s largest roller skate in Virginia.

When Bennington College campus closed last March and I returned to my parent’s house in North Carolina, one thing that devastated me the most was seeing my neighborhood park covered up in police caution tape. While this was the right call in preventing further spread of COVID-19, it still broke my heart to see my childhood park closed up like a crime scene. 

Months later when I was looking for an internship, I discovered Art Spark Texas and their work with parks. ATXgo is one of the many things I have learned that Art Spark Texas does. Crowdsourcing information and making sure that parks are accessible to all is something that I am passionate about. As a park lover myself, I do not want anyone to miss out on the opportunities that they offer. A quiet place to sit, to read, and to chat with a friend is a necessary space and one that parks should provide to all. I encourage everyone in Austin to check out ATXgo and see how you can contribute.

My neighborhood park has since opened up again. Although my friend and I have not traveled together in quite some time, we still can meet up, masked, on opposite sides of the swings most weeks to hang out. I look forward to the day when we can drive north again and discover something new. But, for now, I am learning to appreciate the things I have access to. 

About Zoe
My name is Zoe and at Bennington I study Japanese language and gender studies and am a second-year student. Outside of my studies I play guitar, write songs and do wheel throwing ceramics. I have two cats that I love more than anything and when I am not playing with them; I am playing a video game or cooking something I do not have the knife skills for.


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