The need for a green, clean public park is an underestimated necessity. A person’s time in a park is precious—yet so impacting to one’s health, happiness and sanity. When you are living in a metropolitan city such as New York, Paris or Beirut, the constant rush of commuting, the ever-existing pollution and the blatant noise is enough to cause a relatively calm person to snap. Taxi drivers are beat up by the day-to-day experience of standstill traffic for hours on end. Pedestrians can’t walk on a side walk without running into a row of cars that seem as permanent as a light pole or a parking meter. The avid runner chokes from pollution with each inhale. New buildings sprout up like weeds and overtime become unsightly structures. Developers and residents alike will realize a modern concrete jungle such as Beirut isn’t appealing until it is too late. Recently,the Beirut Municipality came to a decision to sell its only green space left to the public to the highest bidder–developers with a vision to turn a horse- racing facility and a pine forest into a concrete jungle. The first phase would mean turning the green spaces into buildings, parking lots and other obscure additions.
As the more time I spend visiting Turkey, the more I realize the Turks have something the residents of Lebanon don’t have— an abundance of green spaces. Comparing Beirut to Istanbul is like comparing apples and oranges. Each city has its flaws and beauty marks, but it is these spaces that the flaws of a city become more tolerable. Sitting in Maca Park, a short walk from Takism, I am reminded what a green space does to someone. It forces you to take a step back from the rat race and soak up some clean oxygen for our damaged, polluted lungs. Public green space would force everyone to congregate to a single space. A space that wouldn’t ask a person’s religion, last name, city of origin and any other bullshit that keeps a city such as Beirut divided.
Would taxi drivers be less rigid and edgy? Would more Lebanese congregate to a single space? In general, would we all feel refreshed during our lunch breaks and free time? Residents will watch another beloved green space become a concrete and superficial place designed only for Beirut’s elite.