By Matt Day
In January, the East Atlanta Community Association (EACA) relaunched the Friends of Brownwood Park initiative to breathe life back into the park. The vision is to create a thriving “Third Place” for East Atlantans to gather and build community. The organization wants to connect and empower Brownwood Park’s stakeholders and to create an active and unique park experience for the community.
As Ray Oldenburg states in The Great Good Place, the nature of a third place is one in which the presence of a “regular” is always welcome, although never required. Membership is a simple, fluid process of frequent social contact, renewed each time by choice of the people involved. Eventually, social bonds develop through a type of informal intimacy. The important aspect of these relationships is that they occur outside of any commitment and exist solely in the realm of basic human respect. I ascribe huge importance to this one point because it is this one valuable kernel that is slipping away from our isolated modern world. I think that we all miss its presence, and this affects us all in very slight, painful ways.
A lot has been done to lay the foundations, but the community’s support is needed to proceed. Since the relaunching, the Friends of Brownwood Park have hosted a park walkthrough with Commissioner Bakhtiari, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Justin Culter, Park Pride executives, and EACA leaders, to pinpoint areas of improvement. Following that meeting, Park Pride issued a 7-page improvements report which includes replacing the aging playground equipment (City of Atlanta has a $350K bond in place for this to be completed by Summer 2024), revamping the community garden (in the works and looking for people to rent plots), replacing broken benches (they have applied for a grant to install cement chess bench tables), and overhauling the basketball court (forging a partnership with “Art in the Paint” for this). The first project will be adding a yard faucet to the community garden that pulls water from the community center’s water collection system; no more hauling water in buckets.
The Friends group is actively raising funds among community partners for projects and will be expanding these efforts in the coming months. They are calling upon the community to join the efforts to bring life to Brownwood Park. Help is needed with fundraising, grant writing, project management, organizing volunteer clean up days, and more. If you too, yearn for a thriving park, email the group at email@example.com to get involved.
Matt Day is the Friends of Brownwood Park Lead.