Thursday, September 3, 2009

read into this

this summer, i've been charmed by very lovely efforts in pursuit of personal enrichment and happiness employed both in my town and in the city, and i was inspired to write about it today after reading holly's lovely post on decor8 about a community bookcase.

on the homefront, the port washington public library has a set-up at the train station every wednesday where you can borrow books - no library card, no charge, no form to fill out, NOTHING. you just take a book or two on your way to the train and you return it to the library when you're done. that's it. and i'm guessing everyone actually returns them, otherwise they'd probably stop doing it. that makes me really happy. and it draws my attention to the fact that the library might have some other programs of interest to me. i'll report back on my findings.

also, i discovered that in the lovely bryant park in the shadow of the new york public library, there is "the reading room," a concept which first appeared in this park during the depression, and was brought back this year. the original idea was that there were thousands of people with no jobs - nowhere to go during the day and nothing to do, so books and periodicals were provided as a public service. the program ended when there was a resurgence of jobs due to the war. well, what's old is new again, and it's a program i really love. if my office were a little closer, i'd be there every day for lunch reading and people-watching.

my love for this program, sponsored by HSBC, led to doing some further research on bryant park, and i learned that the park is actually privately run on behalf of the city and has the mission statement below, which i love. LOVE.

the BPC is privately funded, and operates bryant park with private sector techniques and management methods. working as agent for the city of new york, the BPC provides sanitation, security services, spotless restrooms, colorful gardens, and seasonal horticultural installations for the park, and maintains a lush lawn that is open to the public.

the BPC also works with civic minded corporations and park patrons to offer interesting amenities, free educational programs and free high-level entertainment for people of all ages. careful selection and management of concessionaires ensures that park visitors have access to high quality food and merchandise. as it strives to improve the park each year, the BPC pays close attention to other models and constantly seeks innovations, whether from its own staff or from outside, always with an eye on the ultimate goal: presenting the perfect park to the public.

pretty special, isn't it? it's the perfect place for an artist's date. and wait, there's more:

experience the good life for no cost. bryant park has a new spot to relax and recharge. the southwest porch, located near the southern end of the fountain terrace, offers all visitors the ambience and luxury usually available only to a few. equipped with adirondack chairs, sofas, and couches typical of those found at expensive hotels and resorts, southwest airlines is giving all of new york an al fresco lounge to celebrate its new service to laguardia airport.

plus, stop by the porch with your laptop, ipod, or cell phone for a different type of refueling – power outlets are available to keep all of your devices going.

bring your lunch, your book, your friend, or just yourself. it’s a fantastic new way to enjoy NY’s most beautiful park.

i just love the idea of a park being run in such a way that totally gets it, understands the whole point of things. a park should be enriching the community it serves, and this one is. the park also offers, all for free, live piano music during the day and as part of their "after work" schedule, tai chi, yoga and knitting classes, "meet the birds" sessions, piano in the park, poetry readings, ping pong tables and tournaments, chess and backgammon and petanque. check out the september schedule - that's more programming than some members-only clubs offer! i'm already thinking of ways i can incorporate this park into my life.

oh, and there is an old-timey carousel and there will be a fall festival with live music every night after work, and in the winter they have a pond for skating and a huge holiday market. and they're giving away free ponies!!

all but the pony part is true. amazing, though, right?

skating photo from


Maria said...

This summer I discovered what I called "free fun". The two top things on my list are the park and the library. Both places give me a sense of community and involvement. It feels so nice to be somewhere where the only price you have to pay is a smile.

Anonymous said...

This post made me smile. I love the idea of free fun.

Erin said...

This is fantastic. Bryant Park sounds like a really great model...I love their mission statement too. Thanks so much for this post...I didn't realize there was this high-quality of free programs out there.

honey living said...

Maria - I love the idea of paying with a smile :)

Erin - you're exactly right - it is a great model - i would love to see more "public" spaces and programs follow along. it is truly wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Bryant Park! I miss it! I used to love having lunch there on warm days when I was at Martha! The people-watching was unparalleled!


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