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(image: Oaktree b)

Have you ever thought about those tiny one-house plots of land turned into parks and how they got that way? What value do they add? Well, plenty.

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Wandering through my neighborhood recently, I had a sit down in a tiny postage-stamp “park” and thought about how it came to be.

You’ve seen these, haven’t you? Walking along some non-descript residential street, then boom, the width of one residential property is one little tiny park. Maybe there’s just some greenery and a bench or two. It may not wow anyone, but it’s the kind of place the people in the neighborhood like to call their own.

Frequently, these are homes that were left to the city with the explicit instructions that it should be a park. Some person who loves their city, loves the outdoors, and all they want their legacy to be is just a green space.

Maybe one day you might want to be one of those folks who establishes their own legacy by way of contributing a little greenspace to the city. If so, here are some ideas.

Edible community garden

Instruct the city that the land is meant to be an edible garden for public consumption. Fruit trees, vegetables, a greenhouse — it’s all good.

I personally love this idea because I think we absolutely ought to have free food growing in cities. I know people don’t want their cars damaged from falling fruits, but it seems ludicrous to me that we should line our streets and fill our parks with non-fruit-bearing trees when we have such hunger and poverty in the world.

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I love community gardens, but most of the time they’re “for some of the community” gardens, because you have to sign up for a plot and all that. I do know of a couple edible community gardens on open-access plots in my city, though — and thus I know where I’m headed when the figs are ripe!

woman in community garden kneeling

Children’s splash or play park

Some people might think children should be seen but not heard, and those are the folks who’ve never really listened to children laughing. I love the sound of childhood laughter and delight. There’s nothing more refreshing for a jaded soul.

That’s why the idea of children giggling and squealing as they rush through summer splash zones or climb on playing structures makes my soul happy.

Especially if you’re in lower-income areas where kids often have to make a pretty good trek to find such delight, it really doesn’t take a big water feature or playground to bring kiddies some big fun.

A place of solace

Perhaps you like your philosophy and contemplation. Maybe reading makes your heart soar.

Outdoor spaces can be designed to increase isolation and solitude by creating nooks and alcoves. Short benches for a single reader, trellises erected to create privacy screens, hideaway corners… all these things can create some pretty nice spots in a park.

An outdoor exercise circuit

Maybe you have a thing about fitness. Maybe you never exercise enough, or maybe you live for physical challenges. Either way, the gift of health is a wonderful one to give. Today, all kinds of open-air “gym” equipment exists. With a few resistance exercises, push-up bars, and the like, it can be the little park that transforms lives.

A gathering place

With a couple picnic tables and a roof, such a park can be a year-round place for folks in the ‘hood to gather. Preschool children can come with teachers and have storytime or do some painting. Families and friends can lunch. Maybe instead of picnic tables it can have a nice gazebo, or one of those small little bandstands you’d find on Main Street in small towns.

A legacy worth leaving

All of us have an expiration date waiting for us. What will be our legacy? How will we be remembered?

With more and more of us opting out of children or marriage, we’ll have new options available for what we want to do with what we leave behind. I’d like to see a future where people are often leaving homes for community use.

How about you? Have you considered leaving land for community space? What would convince you to do so?

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Steffani Cameron

Steffani Cameron is a Victoria BC-based writer on a variety of topics. Here on the BuildDirect blog, she specializes in writing about smaller, urban spaces. How do you make the most of your smaller space? How do you decorate it to suit you? And how do you wage the war against clutter and win? This is Steff’s specialty.