Living in the Charlotte area, I have the opportunity to drive past many places that can serve as entertainment. These places include restaurants, sporting areas, shopping centers, and parks. My friends and I always try to find new places to explore, which takes us to many places all around southern North Carolina. However, one place that we did not discover happened to be right under our noses. Rea Farms, a five-minute drive from my house, is a small, secluded shopping center with a dainty park right in the middle. In this area, there are two separate centers that are split by Providence Road- a major four-lane highway that is constantly packed with cars. The two areas (Waverly and Rea Farms) are not very different besides what shops and apartments are within the vicinities. However, the focus of this observation is Rea Farms, specifically the park within the complex. Sitting on the grass of the rectangular field I wonder, why do people choose this area as a place of entertainment? What makes a patch of grass, which is only about 250 yards long and 50 yards wide, fun space to come with friends or family? My goal is to find a brief understanding of what people find attractive and what activities these groups participate in at this park.
Parks are a great place for people to come and relax. However, there are many different uses for parks. “A well-designed open space that encourages outdoor activity and social communication is a community asset that could potentially contribute to the health of local residents and the social harmony of the community. Numerous factors may influence the use of every single space and may result in a variety of visitors” (Chen et al., 2016, p.1). As explained by the quote, an open area is extremely beneficial to the community in general. Many people use this space as a place to work out, meet up with friends, or a place of peace and serenity. There are unlimited ways to use space such as a park; however, through multiple studies, I am trying to find out what are the most common uses and why people are attracted to areas (especially at Rea Farms).
Observational Data and Analysis:
When I first arrived at Rea Farms, the sun was in the midst of a beautiful sunset. Therefore, obviously, there were flocks of teenage girls out getting their trendy “natural beauty” sunset pictures. From the first observation, these girls were all friends and it seemed like they had planned this out because they all were dressed to a theme. Some groups were based on a white pallet theme, whereas others were in colorful clothes. However, between the two or three groups, all the girls were roughly matching the others in their squad. Once the sunset though, I could tell a new subgroup was forming, and these “sunset girls” promptly dispersed from their photoshoots. The new group that began can be called the “Spikeball Boys.” Even though it was a Wednesday night, there had to be at least three different games of Spikeball going on at once. I could tell that these boys were not a part of a team but just friends. This is so because all the groups were laughing and yelling, but still being extremely competitive with each other. These boys frankly made the girls stick around for a bit after dark as most of them were pretty muscular and many of those guys took off their shirts as the games became increasingly competitive. Therefore, I can combine these two groups into one since all the people residing within said groups are teenagers. To sum up so far, the first group I observed is the “Teenagers.” The consensus of this group is that they come here to get away from their parents and have fun on a beautiful night such as tonight. Obviously, there are other teenage kids here; however, they did not seem to be here for a certain purpose. Maybe they are here to reconnect after quarantine since this is a large open area so there is some safety from the virus. Anyways, the first and largest group I observed are the “Teenagers.” This group generally has the purpose of having fun with friends and enjoying some free time without any pressures of life.
A group that rivaled in size would be what I call the “Locals.” This group consists of the people that live in the apartments and condos that surround the park. The layout of this park is interesting because at the entrance there is an upscale restaurant that has a giant movie projector above. This displays advertisements of local businesses from seven am to ten pm daily in which the entire park can view. An exception to these ads is that on warm nights and some special events (such as a sporting event) they will display a popular movie or sporting event. Anyways, other than the restaurant, the entire park is surrounded by four-story apartments which expand farther beyond, the residents of the buildings frequently use this area as an outdoor space since they do not have yards like houses. These people enjoy going out with their family or pets and take walks along the perimeter of the rectangular park or do other fun activities on the grass. Most of the time these are the people who are exercising or taking a walk with their pets. Speaking of which, there is a divide in the park space between the two groups mentioned. The front is generally for the people who are there for fun and games. Whereas the back is reserved for people who are exercising or want some peace and quiet. In general, these people are trying to get some fresh air and a sense of nature.
The park within Rea Farms is a diamond in the rough that many people use for many activities. In fact, I will have to return with my friends and join one of the subgroups that I have mentioned beforehand. The appeal is obvious, and I have found what it is after two observations. The consensus is the most people come to Rea Farms Park to have a good time with friends or family. This is a place where people can gather with good scenery and the feeling of being outdoors. Even though this area is technically in a city, these people can go outside and have fun with their friends. Rea Farms is a wonderful space for groups to enjoy many different activities, including writing a unit project for their English 105 class.
Chen Y., Liu T., Marušić B. G., & Xie X. (2016). What attracts people to visit community open spaces? A case study of the overseas chinese town community in Shenzhen, China. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 13(7) p.1. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph13070644
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