Sunday, January 3, 2010
As we all cinch ourselves in to take on the resolutions we made three days ago, I wonder what our city, if it was a person, would determine to do in twenty-ten.
Like 100 million of my fellow Americans, I made a few New Years resolutions myself. For one, I pledged to eat less white bread-wrapped white bread stuffed with, what else, more white bread. Me and the simple carbs, we go way back. I've decided we need to take a break, see other people - for me, that means dinner dates with more veggies, more lean meats. I'll be pretty wild-eyed by the end of this month, I know. But, odds are, I'll live through this. I might even emerge from 2010 as less of a person, in the physical sense.
I've been thinking for awhile about what I would resolve for Tulsa to accomplish this year. I'm not a fan of long lists - to me, they're just bulleted paths to disappointment and failure (that is, unless the list is about things to do this weekend) - so I decided to choose just one thing we could do to make this city a better, more comfortable, more exciting place to live in this first year of what promises to be a totally rad decade.
The resolution: I think we need at least one bright, shiny, new, kid-friendly park downtown. As Jeff Martin, local author and Tulsa People columnist said of kid- and family-friendly venues and events sprouting downtown, "If you build it, they will play."
I don't think a park with a smattering of new toys and swings would be incentive enough to bring families downtown who weren't already coming for some other reason. I do think such a park could eventually give rise to small, daytime, enclave-sized festivals, which do have the capability of bringing families from all over T-Town toward the city lights.
Or, at the very least, a park would give parents who trek to the downtown area for work, lunch or dinner a place to let the kids run wild before a nap or bedtime. Maybe while they're there they'll notice that downtown's not full of pick pockets, prostitutes and violent homeless people after all. Maybe a trip or two to such a park would help young couples with small children become more interested in spending a few years renting a downtown loft before they take the plunge and buy that McMansion out south.
Heck, maybe they'd find they like downtown so much they don't want to leave for the 'burbs after all. Maybe the young mom would open her law practice two floors up from the family loft, and Dad would head downstairs every morning to open his breakfast counter. Maybe if the walls of geographical segregation, which are quite tall in this city, started to break down as such, Mom and Dad would decide not to load up the kids every morning and bank them at daycare centers and private schools across town. Maybe we'd even start to see school buses on routes through downtown.
I know some of what I wrote will make a lot of you uncomfortable. I know because I'm right there with you. When earlier this summer we thought about buying this handsome, newly renovated, not-so-little bungalow near downtown, we just couldn't get our pros-and-cons list to work out. It still makes the most sense for us to stay where we are, in a home we own just south of I-44. We're still a one-income family, making finances the main reason we decided not to sell our house and buy downtown. There were, of course, other reasons, too.
I don't like it, the disparity between what I want to see happen in Tulsa and what I'm able to do to help it happen, with respect to our financial goals and what we want for our son and any other children we manage to manufacture in the coming years.
I'm sure I'm not the only family gal who feels this way. I know and have read about plenty of single people and childless married couples who live in downtown Tulsa. I personally know just two families with small children who opted to live downtown.
I dream of downtown residential space being occupied by a variety of folks. It shouldn't be just a "filing cabinet for widows and young professionals."
Name that movie. If you do, I'll give you a high-five that'll bruise your left eye. But, true to the rules set forth in said movie, you won't be able to talk about it.
So, there's my resolution - to take steps toward curing this disparity between my talk and my walk. It's a resolution for me, yeah, but I think it's a resolution for Tulsa, too.
If you could come up with Tulsa's New Years resolution, what would it be?