The Parklet On Our Block

IMG_1105At the west end of our block of Gay Street, next to the intersection with High Street, a kind of wooden module sits on the street adjacent to Cafe Brioso.  It’s pill shaped, and with its unfinished wood it looks like something you might find on a Fourth of July parade float or as the project of a high school wood shop class.  The outward-facing side of the object has a pink-paint-and-green-shrub “PARKT” sign — with the pink letters spelling “art” — and some plants along a ledge at the top.

It’s called a “parklet.”  The sign on the object explains that parklets are intended to “creatively and temporarily transform parking spaces into open public spaces,” where people can sit, relax, rest, and watch the street life go by — and sure enough, the parklet on our block features benches and stools.  The sign adds that parklets are “a new dynamic that will generate more interesting and engaging public spaces for Columbus, Ohio.”  The sign identifies corporate and community sponsors that presumably underwrote the cost of building and moving the parklet and occupying a parking space.

“Parklets” are an interesting idea that, if the results of my Google search are to be believed, started in San Francisco, where they are part of a “pavement to parks” initiative, and have been adopted by some other cities, including Columbus.  The parklet on our block looks as if it has been designed to be picked up, put on a flatbed truck, and moved to a new location where more public seating space is desired.

I’m all for increasing public seating space in our downtown, but I’d like to see Columbus take the next step and acquire some of the surface parking lots that are found downtown and turn them into pocket parks.  A parklet is a nice idea, but an actual park with green trees, shaded walkways and seating, and perhaps a fountain would be even better.

We’ve got some downtown green space — like the Statehouse lawn, Columbus Commons, the Scioto Mile, and the Topiary Gardens — but the section of downtown north of Broad Street is pretty much parkless.  (I don’t count Sensenbrenner Park, which is mostly concrete.)  With more people moving downtown to live, they will be looking for places to jog, work on their yoga poses, or just sit and read a book as the breeze ruffles through the trees above.  Even a small chunk of new green space, like the Ohio Police and Fire Memorial Park at the corner of Third and Town, would be welcome.

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Cbus Coffee

Columbus is blessed with lots of really good local coffee houses.  Kish and I particularly prize Stauf’s Coffee in German Village, which roasts its own beans, has a wide selection for every kind of coffee taste, and then grinds the java to order depending on the kind of coffee maker you use and whether it uses a basket or cone filter.  It’s got pretty good baked goods to go with the brew, too.

IMG_5438Experience Columbus, one of the local booster organizations, has teamed up with some of the Cbus coffee shops to offer The Columbus Coffee Experience, which aims to encourage the uninitiated to sample some of the finest joe you can get anywhere.  The participating beaneries are Boston Stoker, Impero, Mission Coffee Co, and One Line Coffee, all of which are in the Short North, Cafe Brioso, Cup O’ Joe, and Roosevelt in the downtown area, and the Stauf’s shop at the North Market.

I’m a big fan of both Stauf’s and Cup O’ Joe, and there are lots of people at our firm who are stone-cold Cafe Brioso java junkies.  I’ve not tried the other places, but if I take my Columbus Coffee Experience booklet and have it stamped after trying the fare at four of the establishments, I can stop by the Experience Columbus office and get a free Columbus Coffee Experience t-shirt.  Sweet!

It’s a small promotional effort, as promotional efforts go, but it’s a simple way of getting folks to recognize a little part of the great stuff Columbus has to offer, and support local businesses, besides.

Soup Is Good Food

I hate eating lunch at my desk.  I think everyone deserves a break from the workday when they can go outside, stretch their legs, and get something interesting to eat with friends or family members.

IMG_1443Sometimes, however, work pressures just make eating out impossible.  When that happens, it’s nice to have dependable options within walking distance where you can get a good lunch and bring it back to your desk.  I’m lucky, because I’ve got a lot of really good choices.

When I’m in the mood for something on the lighter side — which in my case means soup — I head down Gay Street to Cafe Brioso.  Every day this nifty little coffee shop and eatery offers your choice of five or six different soups, as well as a full spread of sandwiches and other fare.

Today I decided to try something a bit different and got a bowl of the coconut curry lentil soup, which set me back only $4.  It was excellent, combining lentil heartiness, coconut smoothness, and a little curry kick to get me primed for the afternoon at the office.  With some crushed saltines and a crumbled crust of bread, it filled me right up.

It’s just another reason why I’m a committed soupaphile.