The turnout was small, but imaginations were large amongst Sunset Park children and parents as they participated in a workshop at UPROSE on Saturday, January 17 to design a playground for Bush Terminal Park.
Children used materials such as paper cups, toy animals, rubber band balls, toy cars, beads and more to draw up their “wild playground” models for a playground that has not yet been funded by the city but which UPROSE and local residents made it clear they would like to see.
“Events like this – workshops and community forums — are a big part of what UPROSE does,” said Ryan Chavez, the group’s infrastructure coordinator who organized the workshop. “We’re Brooklyn’s oldest Latino-based community organization and a lot of the work we do revolves around participatory planning, methods of organizing and education. Workshops like this make sure that whatever structures and amenities are provided reflect the priorities of the community.”
At a forum hosted by UPROSE last summer, a question came up about the waterfront playground to Kevin Jeffries, Brooklyn Parks commissioner, according to Chavez, who said that Jeffries had commented at the time that he could not answer due to a lack of budget.
The organization had been part of the decade-long community advocacy that led to Bush Terminal Park being opened last November, but even then, stressed Chavez, it wasn’t complete, as a playground and other amenities were still missing.
The workshop was used to spread word amongst Sunset Park residents about the need to advocate for a playground in the park, as Chavez also proposed ideas of a social media campaign, reaching out to artists around the Sunset Park community and possibly sending a signed petition to elected officials. Other concerns involve making sure the waterfront playground is climate-adaptable, particularly after Superstorm Sandy.
Chavez said talking enough about a playground will bring more attention to the issue.
“We hope that what started in this room today will continue to grow and that with more people on board, we can make a better impact in getting these needs addressed,” said Chavez.
It was a success for all involved.
“This was a great workshop,” said Naila Rosario, a parent and president of the District 15 Community Education Council. “This is exactly what we need – more dialogue about what’s happening in our community, more involvement. I think this is a great first step. I’m excited.”