make-believe: concert in the park.

July 5, 2017



We’re in the thick of it, folks. Outdoor concert season is upon us, which means I’m daydreaming as per usual about a pretty picnic set up. I have the very fondest memories of summery picnic dinners had at outdoor concerts as a kid. My parents would pack up our Igloo cooler and big comforters and take us to listen to jazz on the New Haven Green. We’d stray from the picnic blanket, hop barefoot over other people’s picnics, and generally cause a disturbance but no one cared, or if they did, they didn’t say anything. By the time the concert was over, it’d be dark out, our blankets soggy with dew. We’d conk out in the car and pretend to be asleep so that our dad would carry us inside.

In case you’re planning a picnic of your own, here’s an imaginary set up for taking in summertime concerts al fresco.

A classic picnic basket for filling up.

foldable corkscrew knife just in case.

A bottle of bug away spray, in the event mosquitos were also planning a picnic.

A big picnic blanket for lounging on.

A set of stainless steel tumblers for toasting friends.

stainless steel tiffin for sturdy salads and other things.

A 25-ounce canteen designed to fit a whole bottle of wine.

A slim cutting board for toting along.

A modern lantern for a bit of mood lighting.

Action Items:

In an effort to ground all of this make-believing in something a bit more down to earth, here are a few things we can do today to help the arts and humanities and each other:

+ For music in city parks: Head to the bandshell. In Brooklyn, BRIC (Brooklyn Information and Culture) organizes performances and programs that are either free or reasonably priced in order to make art and media accessible to everyone. Their annual Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival features dance and musical performances throughout the summer at the Prospect Park bandshell. BRIC also offers in-school and after-school programs for children in public schools in Brooklyn, as well as free and low-cost courses for lifelong learners at their Media Center. You can support BRIC by becoming a volunteer or making a donation.

+ For Shakespeare in the park: Ponder the question: “To be, or not to be.” And buy a ticket to a Public Theater performance. They’re a company “dedicated to developing an American theater that is accessible and relevant to all people.” Known most popularly for their free Shakespeare in the Park summer series, The Public Theater also puts on new plays and musicals. The Public Theater commits to “openness, inclusion, and the conviction that in drama and democracy alike, the clash of opposing views leads to truth.” 

+ For inclusivity in the arts: Support The Theater Offensive, which celebrates lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people in the arts. They run a youth theater company and put on neighborhood productions and cultural events to create a visible LGBTQ presence in the arts. The Theater Offensive’s OUT program encourages open dialogue in communities in the Boston area on any and all topics, including sexuality, racism, violence, and poverty.  

+ For bridging communities: Dance. INSITU is a Queens-based organization that “aspires to make dance accessible, connect with new audiences and raise awareness of the power of movement by bringing it into public spaces.” INSITU also aspires to bridge the gap and inspire dialogue between newer communities and housing projects in Long Island City. To do this, they run a community dance workshop open to LIC residents of all ages and backgrounds. This summer, INSITU is hosting a site specific dance festival across the Long Island City waterfront that is free to attend.

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  • Reply Katrien July 6, 2017 at 6:34 pm

    Your description of your family picnic-ing at outdoor concerts makes me think of Gilmore Girls and my love for your blog has grown 🙂 The addition of action items makes me extra happy and inspires me to find what’s similar in my local community.

    I listened to a fantastic episode on Invisibilia (June 8th, Reality Part Two) about getting out of your bubble, which feels like a similar message to these action items. I love the nuanced conversations I’ve been having recently about friendships and making an effort to go beyond daily routine interactions. I think there comes a point in adult life where people stop reaching out because their friend group is ‘done’ but I think there is always space for kindness and cups of tea/ a beer with others just to expand your perspective on the world. It’s easy to make assumptions on why a person may support different political ideals to you and write them off as misinformed, etc. but they always have a story and it’s important to listen (and politely disagree if that’s the case too!).

    Another podcast I’d love to recommend is about climate change and state government action/inaction in Australia. Just thought you and James would find it really informative and interesting. Public lands everywhere seem to be under threat and this conversation really opened my eyes to the decision-making-power of elected officials through a supposedly democratic process:

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE July 6, 2017 at 7:11 pm

      Thanks so much for your note, Katrien! And for the podcast recommendations! Will have a listen!

  • Reply Katharine July 6, 2017 at 7:11 pm

    Hurrah for supporting the arts! These sorts of programs and festivals are so important for communities, and it’s wonderful to see you promoting them in this space. I remember going to tons of summer dance and theatre festivals growing up, and there’s nothing more fun for kids than being able to get up and move.

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