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Passion about parks

Last week, Melba Whatley was profiled in Culture Map Magazine’s series, “The Influentials” which features “the people who help to shape the City of Austin.”

We were proud to see Melba get some well-deserved accolades for her signature glasses, wit, and hard work at the conservancy.

Melba reminded us once again of the importance of creating and sustaining urban parks, saying: “I’ve always had this deep passion about parks. We’ve done so much in this city for open space that it’s absolutely the right thing to do to simultaneously start thinking about the urban life, because we are essentially an urban place. If there’s no respite and no place to go with a family or no place to watch a tree in bloom, we have deeply lost something.”

Melba's idea of misery? "Being inside all day."Photo credit: Jessica Pages of Culture Map

Melba’s idea of misery? “Being inside all day.”
Photo credit: Jessica Pages of Culture Map

A recent series from the blog, “Gilded Birds,” asked thinkers to consider seminal objects of beauty. Philosopher Joshua Cohen wrote of Central Park in New York City because, “The park provides an experience of beauty and is also…driven by a remarkable intellectual idea: the democratic idea of an experience of beauty for the people…There’s an aristocratic criticism of democracy that goes all the way back to Plato, that when you try to do things for everyone you end up with lowest common denominator. [Yet] it was built by a democratic society for a democratic society—for the people—and was incredibly beautiful.”

When Melba spoke at the design team announcement press conference last fall, she mentioned creating a space in Austin, a signature park, with an “enduring sense of beauty,” just like Central Park.

The beauty Melba hopes for along Waller Creek isn’t just an aesthetic ideal, it’s a democratic belief as well: a connecting, inspiring place for everyone.