Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Improvised Urban Plaza

Janice Lo

An area on 4th Ave. and Dilling Way, in sight of the Supreme Court, is a plaza that serves as a gathering point for a forgotten segment of society. The area consists of uninviting concrete pathways that are colorless and soulless, yet it is a sanctuary to meet, to be fed and to feel comfortable for the many who live on the periphery. Here, a simple sign expresses welcome; the sign is shoddy and stained, but it draws quite a crowd. The sign, the tent offering food and even the people themselves are transient. As a white van turned the corner at 1:30 on a Saturday afternoon, stopped and began to set up the tent and food, a slow steady stream of people of all ages began to appear seemingly out of nowhere. They ate, stood and gathered for a while, but as soon as the volunteers pulled down the tent and left, they disappeared into the shadows of shop doors and dark streets; lost to the unknown underworld. Soon, the plaza returned to its normal self. For an hour or so, the park became an improvised urban plaza for the lost and lonely to gather and to feel normal for a while. Five minutes later, the area was again a lonely concrete testament to a forgotten people.

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