How frequently, really, do you stop to smell the roses? Not necessarily literal roses. Though those could work, too, now that you mention it. We're talking about figurative roses, where a rose and the scent it provides symbolizes a simple, free-to-all pleasure. Steve Hersh, a Librarian Assistant at University of Miami's Special Collection, is undertaking that kind of uncomplicated gratitude in the form of his new blog The Parks Department, which is slowly reviewing every park in Miami-Dade County.
You may know Hersh as the singer of M.I.A. (in this instance both where they're from and their state of being) pop-punk band, Sloane Peterson. But these days you might be more likely to find him basking in the shade by the volleyball court rather than serenading the drunk masses from onstage. Cultist was charmed by Hersh's project and sent him some questions to get the scoop on Parks in Miami in 2011.
Cultist: What inspired you to start blogging about parks?
Steve Hersh: I think I was just looking for an excuse to get outside honestly. Parks are a free/cheap way to enjoy a couple of hours, and there are so many of them that I didn't know existed. I look at this blog as a catalyst to explore them, and maybe show them to other people who are looking for something to do during the day. I think Miami is growing as a cultural city, but a lot of what I see written about are indoor, night time activities. What can people do before they go to Churchill's or a gallery opening?
What makes a park good or bad? Do you come in with criteria you're looking for?
Personally, I like open space in a park, but I think it depends on the size. Flamingo Park in Miami Beach is spread out over a large area, so putting a tennis court and a pool and a basketball court isn't that big of a deal, because there's still plenty of room for open space. Smaller parks would do better to avoid the clutter in my opinion. I don't know about specific criteria, although I am a fan of lots of trees.
What is your process of selection for the parks you review.
It's all been kind of random so far. The first park (Margaret Pace) happened because I was telling the idea of a park blog to Brian Ray and he suggested we go out to the park right by his apartment. If someone suggests a park, I'll go check it out too. Merrie Christmas Park got reviewed because Mike Lee from Little Beard suggested it, so I figured why not check it out.
Were any Sloane Peterson songs about parks? If not, can you tell me one Sloane Peterson story that involves a park?
No songs about parks, but one of the best Sloane Peterson memories I have is all of us plus our friends floating down the Ichetucknee River in intertubes in Ichetucknee State Park by Gainesville while on a short trek through Florida cities.
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Parks can be pretty weird. What's the weirdest experience you've had in a park?
It's amazing how weird your activities as a 16-17 year old can seem when you get older. I remember going to a "shindig" at a park in Kendall with a bunch of friends, and witnessing Vienna sausages getting shot out of a pvc pipe gun and thinking it was the funniest thing ever.
Check out The Parks Department blog at www.parksdepartment.blogspot.com.