I liked today’s New York Times portrait of Adrian Benepe, the Parks and Recreation Commissioner for all of New York City. The piece focuses a lot on how he relates to the parks outside of work, reminding me of my asking park maintenance workers in Berlin whether they still visit the parks in their personal time.
It sounds like Mr. Benepe loves the parks to bits, but that for him, the line between being in the parks as a private citizen and as a professional is more than blurry. He goes running every day in the parks and in good weather, does his office work on a park bench. He and his wife were even married in Central Park. It was Benepe’s wife who made the observation about the “sector patrol” about trying to take a stroll in Central Park with her husband. He can’t stop photographing problems in the park with his Blackberry and emailing the images to his staff.
Sara, I think you’ll like this fellow. It looks like you share an interesting in hoarding newspapers so you can cut out the pictures for your projects. And you seem to be interested in the people behind New York’s parks.
I wonder if there are any charismatic parks staff in Berlin? Though Berliners are enthusiastic users of the many parks here, the public image of the district Grünflächeämter (Green Space Offices) is more bureaucratic than friendly. I have the feeling that people think of them as the uptight folks who put up regulatory signs and number the trees.
But the interview with Adrian Benepe reminded me that people who chose to work with parks probably love parks, or at least they did when they started out. Any thoughts on that, Berlin readers? Responses in German are welcome too. Other readers, have you know any lovable park or garden staff?