Last fall I was contacted by the Kalamazoo County Parks to photograph the five county parks in Kalamazoo, Michigan during the different seasons. The county was looking to refresh their marketing materials to showcase the parks through documentary imagery that showcased the various activities and park amenities. From ice fishing to camping, the parks offer many activities to local residents (including our canine friends).
I took this project for a few reasons. First, I believe that it's more important now than ever before to showcase the beauty of our natural spaces. We all know that being outdoors is invaluable to our physical and mental health. We need to encourage each other to get outside, breath in the fresh air and exhale the stress of our daily lives.
If we experience the benefits of our outdoors spaces, we can then see their value. When we value something, we respect it and we will fight to protect it. As issues like climate change and urban sprawl become realities, the fight to enjoy and protect our natural spaces is real.
During the fall I visited Cold Brook Park and River Oaks Park. The weather was glorious and the natural light poured in as families ate together under picnic shelters, threw the ball for their dog at the dog park and gathered for a game of cards outside of their camper.
People of all ages came together for a game of Frisbee golf or a boat ride on the lake. The sense of community was palpable as was the collective need for some respite. People were enjoying themselves and each other without their phones or to-do lists. I was witnessing pure leisure (Definition: Use of free time for enjoyment).
As we enter the new year and start wrestling with our new year's resolutions, I highly recommend adding "more leisure" to your list. While you are at it, come visit one of the Kalamazoo County Parks to make your resolution a reality.