Perhaps it has something to do with how, over the past two decades, technology has driven us deeper within ourselves and our living and work spaces. Maybe it’s about civic pride at a time when our cities are being eroded by neglect. Or perhaps it’s just a reflection of the pleasure we take from discovery, from a commitment to something larger than ourselves, and from feeling a part of something emergent and special (and maybe even secret). Whatever its roots, there is a growing movement in America dedicated to the invention and resurrection of Great Places.
Precedents like the revitalization of New York’s Bryant Park and Times Square—or the reshaping of a rundown, oceanfront neighborhood into a glittering gem, like Florida’s South Beach—are well known. This is a little different. The Great Places we’re talking about often begin with the personal: a desire to clean up one city block or to turn an empty lot into green space or neighborhood garden. It’s about the sanctuaries of calm and quiet we seek out in an otherwise cacophonous urban setting—or, conversely, the hipster meeting spot in the middle of farm country. Maybe it’s a scene; a place to which people gravitate because they know they’ll find community, or friendship, or enriching conversation, or quality eats and drink.
These new Great Places emerge organically, or they can reflect the effort of one local visionary. However they come together, they call out to us. They draw us out of the house and into the world because, well, they feel like home. Here is my great place in Dallas: Klyde Warren Park. The 5.2-acre deck park is an urban green space built over the recessed Woodall Rodgers Freeway in downtown Dallas.
In the October 2013 issue of Spirit, we’ll celebrate the Great Places blossoming all over the country. We’ll explore what it is, geographically and emotionally, that makes a Great Place. We’ll talk to the pioneers who, through their passion and uncommon vision, bring a Great Place into being. Since people are at the core of this movement, we’d like to weave places across the country—the discoveries, the hideaways, the thriving new hubs of activity—recommended to us by Southwest Airlines’ impassioned and well-traveled Customers … you!
From parks and gardens to neighborhoods and hang outs … what are some of your great places? Comment below or use Twitter or Facebook Tell using #PlacesWeLUV.