169 years ago today Birkenhead Park in Merseyside, England opened to the public. It was designed by Joseph Paxton and was the first publicly funded park in the world. It’s absolutely beautiful and tranquil place for the public to spend time in nature. It inspired New York’s Central Park.
The idea for the publicly funded park came from an Improvements Commission, local government boards of the 18th and 19th centuries in the UK and Ireland.
This brings to mind Margaret Mead quote: “Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. In fact it is the only thing that ever has”.
I live in San Francisco and I am so thankful to 3 such committees citizens; Kay Kerr, Sylvia McLaughlin, and Esther Gulick. In the 1960’s, they banded together to stop the San Francisco Bay being filled for commercial uses. With this clear purpose they worked tirelessly to protect open water, promote regional planning, plan for conservation of wildlife, create boating and recreation, and beautify the shoreline.
They created a membership program charging just $1, the goal was to gain broad community support for their organization and it’s purpose.
The money was used for communications and regular updates to members, which included images depicting the shrinking of the bay. The impact of their grassroots campaign can be seen in the video below.