In the breakneck pace of the day you need to carve out space between time to get lost in the urban wild. Raleigh has become a sprawling mass of traffic jams, quick start building projects, techno energy drain. I am born and raised in Raleigh. I made my debut here, my family has deep ties to the community. I love my hometown – the arts, culture and drive of innovation. Sadly since moving back home the community core seems splintered – with people so focused on talking on their cell phones en route from one priority to another that the sense of pride and care in our community as a liveable space in the gorgeous ambling Piedmont of NC has turned into just one huge concrete traffic jam of sprawl.
I love cities – I love cities that function – the hustle and bustle of life on the run and the quiet spaces in city parks. I love cities that are walkable, have a central dynamic downtown, emphasize the arts and community, education and have a drive to invest in the community for this generation and the next.
That is why I always find Solace in the Urban Wild hideaway of Lake Johnson. The Lake is located in a quiet corner of a hectic traffic area (Avent Ferry/Western Blvd/NC State). In the middle of a traffic headache – suddenly you stumble upon natural beauty – unbridled. Lake Johnson is one of Raleigh’s few urban parks. While Raleigh boasts The Greenway, most parks including Lake Johnson date back to a time when the city wanted into invest in livable natural spaces. Raleigh is a City of Oaks – long known for its beautiful trees and gardens…moving back home I actively hope that Raleigh will look to invest in community places and spaces – parks are proven to drive economies, improve quality of life and help with air quality. Atlanta and Nashville are great examples of big cities that focus on outdoor spaces. Raleigh used to be on the cutting edge. It only takes a few seeds to plant roots.
Lake Johnson is a treasure in Raleigh – where a diverse collection of demographics take to the paved 3 mile loop for a Urban Wilderness therapy. Ample park benches and quiet oases amongst tall towering slim as a toothpick pines skirt the winding hilly path. You build endurance on this trail. Everyone walking to their own beat and running to their own drum.
Lake Johnson always has great activities for all ages from kids camps to yoga, kayaking and walking groups
Wouldn’t it be amazing if a grassroots ‘City of Oaks’ Plant a Tree, Build a Park campaign could grow in my hometown. I’ve spoken to people about it – but sometimes it is hard to convince people to pay for something, especially when our schools are losing money and we need infrastructure…Isn’t this a national problem that stretches far beyond political leanings. Perhaps we just make it too complicated – focusing on community, education, public spaces – small businesses, art, life and love – it is something we should all be able to get behind.
I look forward to the fact Raleigh citizens passed a bond in November for Parks. We also will have access to Dorothea Dix campus – which is a beautiful space across from another city icon Pullen Park.
Wherever you live I encourage you to stand up for your parks, be willing to hike into the urban wild and find peace in the breath of a cool breeze on a park bench.
I hike the trail at five o’clock, the sun making its last stand before settling into the flare light of sunset. I meditated on the peace of the trees. Call me crazy – I have conversations with trees. The earth is part of us and a testament to God’s creation – the thought of the symbiotic relationship of the trees oxygen feeding us and our exhale feeding them CO2 is extraordinary. More trees might not solve the problems with our plant, but it sure would make life a prettier place.
Here are some of my pictures from my relaxing walk.