Attend a concert and save a park

One highlight of summer in Yamhill County is always the mid-week concert series hosted by local non-profits and agencies.

This year, the McMinnville Parks and Recreation Department is celebrating its 35th year of summer concerts with a move to Upper City Park. And it has drawn rave reviews, according to Parks Director Susan Muir.

The concerts were originally staged in Lower City Park. They later moved to Linfield College, starting in the Oak Grove, then migrating to the intramural field.

Both college sites were scenic and roomy, but we share in the excitement of the new digs. 

Muir said the city has been seeking ways to stage more positive activities to City Park, to counter its unsettling reputation for seedy behavior and drug use. She said the way to combat the stereotype of a place to avoid is simply to draw people there in positive situations — let them gather for a reason and bask in positive energy.

McMinnville Parks added another feature to this year’s lineup — a Shakespeare performance, being staged in partnership with the library later this month. And this coming Tuesday, Mac Police will join the concert crowd in conjunction with National Night Out.

It’s clear that self-policing by local residents is the ideal method to make our parks inviting places for all. And leading the way is not limited to public agencies.

A few years ago, neighbors of Thompson Park appeared at City Council meetings to complain about drug use and behavioral issues there. While expressing their frustration, neighbors also agreed to take a proactive step, by organizing a block party in the park.

Bringing healing to City Park is a goal shared by Erin Bowman of 4 Elements Yoga and like-minded partners. To foster that change, Bowman has been hosting yoga and forest bathing events there.

Earlier this summer, Bowman helped organize an earth art and impermanent nature immersion weekend. She’s also joined the McMinnville Downtown Association’s Play and Public Spaces Task Force, committed to helping reverse the park’s negative reputation.

Our parks are only as good as the people who frequent them. It’s encouraging to witness events being not just allowed, but actually sponsored.

The Parks Department has even started permitting the serving of beer and wine during certain events, something banned for decades. The move is predicated on a belief it will increase attendance without introducing new problems.

We encourage everyone to take advantage of the summer weather and visit his or her local park. Better yet, we urge them to go explore play areas in other parts of the city. 



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