SARS-CoV-2 isn’t the only infectious thing in our world: Attention is catching.
Stop on a street corner, look up, and curious passers-by will slow or stop altogether, scanning overhead for . . . something.
Turn around in your seat in a lecture hall or theatre to gaze intently at the back of the room, and others will swivel to do the same, looking for . . . someone.
In both cases, others first pay attention to us, not to whatever or whomever we’re paying attention to. Maybe it’s a hard-wired self-defence mechanism from the dawn of our species, when mortal dangers lurked everywhere and we really were all in it together.
Joe’s seen/heard/smelled something!”
That safety instinct accounts perfectly for why I was recently reading about a new Calgary park. Under COVID-19 constraints, a friend’s hiking group has recently focused more on exploring Calgary’s parks and trails than nearby mountain lakes. I caught attention-to-Calgary-parks from her blog posts, which have opened up a new view on a city I sort of feel I sort of know, having sort of grown up there.
In any event, there I was, reading an article about the new Flyover Park tucked under the Fourth Avenue Overpass. Not surprisingly, the article pays attention to the happy coincidence of factors that led to this collaboration of kidlets, teachers, U of C students, and the community. It’s that vision thing.
Aryanna and her classmates reimagined the dreary area beneath the Fourth Avenue flyover as a welcoming and fun park, and they collaborated with students in the University of Calgary’s landscape architecture program to create design concepts.
What I paid attention to first was the cost: $2 million in taxpayer funds plus private donations. Who knew even a small park cost so much? Then I got to this bit.
As more people experience the lively new park, it’s hoped they’ll be encouraged to reconsider the forgotten spaces in their own neighbourhoods.
The forgotten spaces in our neighbourhoods that could be parks or visual delights of any sort, rather than dingy spots we don’t even see anymore.
The unseen places that could be vibrant communities, rather than warehouses for the sick and the elderly.
The overlooked chances that could be life-giving relationships, rather than superficial day-to-day interactions.
The untold stories that could be sources of belonging and connection, rather than a stodgy history.
The underdeveloped skills that could be shining capabilities, rather than wasted potential.
There are lots of forgotten spaces in our neighbourhoods and in our communities, homes, lives, and selves. But attention *is* catching. It’s that vision thing.