This is the third year of the inspiring America Is Your Park program. The park I'm going to vote for is my own local favorite, and you can choose one that means a lot to you. As you and your family head out to enjoy green spaces this summer, let's join together to support the places that provide our communities with dedicated room to gather and play. Read on for more on the park I'm voting for, and how you can vote for yours.
It is with great joy I state the following: I live by the beach.
I had always dreamed of living near water, but in that kind of never-gonna-happen state we sometimes put ourselves in. Then our old apartment flooded (that wasn't the kind of living near water I was thinking of), and we ended up moving right across the street from Alki Beach Park. It's an urban Seattle beach and on the Puget Sound, rather than the ocean proper (before you get any grandiose ideas of what beaches should look like). It has gentle salt waves that roll softly into shore, and a stretch of gray sand that's perfect for digging. At low tide, or if you're lucky or looking hard, you can find the sea life: barnacles, seaweed, crabs and clams, a baby seal pup resting on shore, and orcas swimming out in the deeper water.
Summer brings a different sort of sea life: people. Throngs of sun-seekers and beach volleyball players and sidewalk strollers. Kids splashing in the frigid Arctic-fed waters, guys showing off their ability to not wear shirts, families and friends throwing impromptu picnics or planned barbecues on the sand. And the fire pits glow deep into the night while everyone laughs and toasts marshmallows.
And we are there year-round with our two kids, joyously throwing crusts to seagulls and pigeons who neither need nor deserve such largesse, braving getting our shoes wet for a bucket of water to build a sandcastle, running around and chasing each other across the sand, and seeing who can find the most interesting driftwood or shell or rock to toss in the water. I spent a good part of my labor with each of them on that beach, hearing the waves roll in, resting on a convenient log as I waited.
So that's my park. That is the one that inspired me enough that I knew I wanted to keep living within walking distance of it as long as we could, and so we bought a little condo half a block back. We knew we wanted to be able to walk out our door and to the water. We don't have a backyard, so we knew we needed inspiration to get out the door and be active with our kids each day, and living so near this beautiful park is what gets us motivated.
I've lived near other beloved parks (one had a wooded and fern-bedecked ravine that was positively primeval) and we've visited plenty of inspiring ones, so I know the competition is packed. Which park makes you happiest? Which park is the one your kids connect to — with their favorite trees, or dandelions to pick, or playground to scale? Which park is the one you invite your friends out to to toss around a Frisbee and grill your favorite foods and get messy from watermelon as you see each other's kids grow bigger and braver each summer?
Here's the kicker: Which park could use — get this — $100,000? Coca-Cola's Live Positively initiative is giving away just that much to America's Favorite Park. And YOU get to decide which park that is! The second- and third-place parks get good prize money as well — $50,000 and $25,000, respectively — so if you have a park that's dear to your heart and could use some money to improve or maintain it, go and nominate your favorite and then invite everyone you know to vote for the park you all love.
Last year, park supporters cast more than 13 million votes for their favorite parks. The winner? Oak Park in the small town of Minot, North Dakota. Community action was the secret of their success. Everyone in Minot got involved and campaigned for Oak Park. They held events in the park, mobilized through online communities, and got hometown celebrities involved. So start thinking now about how you could spearhead a community-wide campaign to get your park one of the grants. Head to the Live Positively site to start voting, and stay tuned for another post with specific advocacy ideas. I know which park I'm voting for.
Tell me about your family's favorite park!
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Only legal residents of the 50 U.S. (and D.C.) who are at least 13 years old and reside within the U.S. at the time of participation are eligible to vote for a Park. Participate on behalf of a Park by: July 15, 2012. The 3 most popular Parks will be offered a grant and there will be 1 Wild Card drawing at the end of the Contest to award an additional grant. To participate, for Official Rules, and complete details including grant descriptions, visit www.LivePositively.com/parks. Void where prohibited.
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