I think I've mentioned before how much I love the concept of a town square... and how sad it is that that concept is becoming more and more foreign here in the states and even in Europe. But the other day I stumbled on this park that gave me some hope for it! It's a few blocks from where we are staying, but I'd avoided it because it's almost invisible from the street.
I saw some steps and decided to climb them because I had time to kill and they took me to this boarded up (albeit beautiful) building... and I'd walked by more than the normal amount of homeless men and it was starting to get towards evening so I was feeling a bit uneasy walking around with my camera. I was about to turn around but then I saw a dad teaching his son to skateboard...heart-meltingly adorable! I asked for a photo....see how bashful the boy got then he started showing off! Then just as I turned to head back down the steps I was arrested by that view! Look at the perfect picture with not one but two iconic Hollywood sights! Because Los Angeles is so vast, I felt like I'd discovered something very rare and precious. I looked around more and realized there were tons of cars parked so there had to be more people somewhere so I followed the sound of a distant boom box and, at the top of another flight of stairs, I found this gorgeous pine (I think?) grove... complete with adorable couple deep in conversation. There is a cloister like walkway, an old mansion, several grassy slopes on all sides of the hill with shady trees and these iron chairs that you can move wherever you desire to sit! And on the east slope of the hill there's a row of art studios that host classes for all ages all year round. So yes... I had found something very rare and precious... Barnsdall Art Park! A gathering place for all on top of a hill. Since then we have been back several times for picnics and cards and sunsets and cocktails.
I was just listening to this story from WBEZ this morning while I was doing the dishes... I love that these brave souls are going out and trying to create this kind of community in South Chicago. A place to hang out on the street or in parks literally involves risking your life because of the gangs. The women from a few different churches set up on a street corner every Saturday with jump ropes and hula hoops and create, right then and there, in the most dangerous parts of the most dangerous city in the states, a town square for that not only spreads community but more importantly, the Gospel! Such a simple concept and yet, because of its rarity, startling enough to catch the attention of the public radio station!