[ASC-media] The spirit of place: why parks are more than just open space

Mary Mulcahy Mary.Mulcahy at uts.edu.au
Thu Oct 12 05:17:58 CEST 2006

Wednesday 11 October 2006

The spirit of place: why parks are more than just open space

The connection people from many different backgrounds have to public
space along the Georges River is close, sometimes spiritual, according
to a major study of the use of parks along the river from Liverpool to
Botany Bay.

Initial findings from the ongoing research, lead by academics from the
University of Technology, Sydney, will be discussed as part of a special
forum on Wednesday 18 October during Parks Week in Sydney.

The research, which started about two years ago, has involved interviews
with people from four cultural groups – Indigenous, Anglo-Celtic,
Vietnamese and Arabic-speaking – asking how they use the Georges River
parks and what those places mean to them.

For some the parks represent cultural heritage or childhood memories, or
in the case of some Vietnamese migrants, a reminder of the river country
of their homeland. For many, however, it offers an opportunity to open
up new relationships with places and people across the cultural dividing

Undertaken in partnership with the NSW Department of Environment and
Conservation and assisted by a Linkage Grant from the Australian
Research Council, the research will be a resource for park managers to
understand who has a stake in the care and conservation of public open
space in the region.

UTS social historian Associate Professor Heather Goodall and tourism and
leisure researcher Associate Professor Stephen Wearing will address the
Parks Week forum on the work, which they consider vital to the survival
of urban parks.

"Australian cities are experiencing rapid increases in cultural and
ethnic diversity as immigration and lifestyle patterns change and as
earlier population groups migrate internally and their populations age,"
they said.

"If cultural or ethnic groups are constrained in their use of parks then
the opportunity to build relationships with places and with the
communities who use them within Australia is missed.

"The question of social relations in parklands is important because in
order to survive as viable ecologies, parklands must be socially as well
as biologically sustainable – that is, people will work to protect and
preserve a place that is meaningful to them."

Professors Goodall and Wearing will speak as part of the Parks Week
Experts Forum: Changing Role and Challenges of Parks, being held at
Headland Park, Chowder Bay, Mosman, from 6.30pm on Wednesday 18 October.
Bookings are essential, phone (02) 8969 2131.

Parks Week, from 15 to 22 October, is a focus for activities and events
in parks and gardens from North Head in the east to the Blue Mountains
in the west. It is an initiative of the Sydney Parks Group under the
Healthy Parks Healthy People program.

For more information on Parks Week visit: http://www.parksweek.com.au/


Further Information:
Associate Professor Heather Goodall, 0412 925 051
Associate Professor Stephen Wearing, (02) 9514 5432
Parks Week: Craig Easdown, (02) 8969 2113

Terry Clinton
Media Officer, Media Branch
Marketing and Communication Unit
University of Technology, Sydney
PO Box 123 Broadway
NSW 2007 Australia
Tel +61 2 9514 1623 Fax +61 2 9514 1616
Mob 0419 293 261
UTS Experts: online at http://www.experts.uts.edu.au
U: magazine online at http://www.u.uts.edu.au

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