on Friday I was being generously given a ride home, and driving down my street we passed the subterranean fountain at my corner. It’s sunken, with seats alongside the steps leading to the stones the (dyed blue, for some reason) water splashes upon. all red-brown cobblestone. We passed the fountain with many people sitting, standing, and playing around it, as it was filled with bubbles.
This happens frequently in the summer months when this fountain is in operation, but there were more suds than I’ve ever seen before there. And there were lots of people – I’m assuming separate groups because they seemed to keep to smaller cohorts and covered a range of demographics – sitting around this fountain, playing with the suds, playing in the suds and water, falling into the water, and losing their shoes. After being dropped off I just grabbed my camera and went back out the door to this part of my corner and took pictures of people having fun. It was a form of vandalism, really, but harmless vandalism that parents with infants and toddlers were enjoying alongside thirteen year old friends and eighteen year old couples. People fell into the water and got wet. I ran back home and grabbed a spare towel that I didn’t mind losing if I went in for the night before these obviously energetic young folk decided the fun was over. It was the kind of thing I would do with my friends as a teenager. It was the kind of harmless trouble that should be happening in all sorts of neighbourhoods. It’s the potential that can be found in a downtown area if people start opening their minds and working to defy the stereotypes.
Clearly I haven’t fully become a crotchety old person if I was encouraging these kids to keep playing. The number of people who believe homes are for sheltering yourself and neighbourhoods are for being quiet is surprisingly high even downtown. If I’m going to make snow angels and snowmen in the winter, people should be playing safely in fountains in the summer. And having picnics. And throwing frisbees. And if this is all happening in places not “designated” for such activity, it’s more fun. It’s the change I want to see in my neighbourhood.