Archive for January, 2013

Canaan Plaza

A fire pit can provide just enough warmth – even on a day cold
enough to ski – to encourage outdoor socialization.

I don’t like cold.  I’ve been working on projects at Canaan Valley Resort State Park for a couple of years now and we finished just in time for the snow.  I visited the resort shortly after opening day.  It was crazy cold and the wind howled.  One thing I can tell you:  No matter how much I bundle up, winter sports are not for me.

As part of the improvements, we provided outdoor fire pits.  I was amazed at how much heat they provide, even on the really cold days.  Skiers gather around, warming their hands and talking about their adventures on the slopes.  That’s when I realized that you can have a social space in the dead of winter.

What does it take to enliven a public space when it’s so cold?  Maybe a fire in the town square is too much to ask, but there are other ways of attracting people.  First Friday’s are catching on in downtowns, as are artwalks.  Why not provide a temporary warming  place on those days?  Bring in some propane heaters, tables and chairs, hot chocolate or warm mulled wine, maybe some hot baked goods.  Encourage artists to populate the warming area with their work and pipe in some music.  Before you know it, it’s a party.

No need to let our public spaces go dormant for the season.  Even a warm-blooded person like me might bundle up and enjoy some mid-winter socialization.