In February, I set up separate appointments with the County Manager and with the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners in Pike County, the county where I live in Georgia. I spent about an hour with each, laying out my idea for a Photography Park. They were both polite, attentive and — as you can imagine — noncommittal. I couldn’t expect anything different. It’s a completely new idea for a park and it will take awhile for anyone to think it through.
(A scene from Pike County, GA. ©Don Brown 2015)
And then there is the size of the thing. The most important part of a Photography Park to understand is that it requires a view. If you’ll remember, in the blog entry, A Model Park, I told you about what a great park Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth, Maine was for photographers. It was only a 90 acre park but the view was spectacular.
(The view from Fort Williams Park. ©Don Brown 2015)
That view consisted mainly of ocean. Thousands of acres of open water. With an inland park, the view will have to be of thousands of acres of land. And land isn’t free.
I had to pick a size — a number of acres — to present to people. And I was picking it out of thin air. As I keep mentioning, there isn’t a model to base this park on. It will literally be the world’s first Photography Park. I’ll let others dream small. I decided to dream big. Pike County, Georgia is roughly 140,000 acres in size. I like round numbers. I decided to go with 10% — 14,000 acres.
Yeah. That does get your attention.
To put that number in perspective, the largest park in the State of Georgia is F.D. Roosevelt State Park. It’s just a little over 9,000 acres. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park (the closest National Park) is 522,419 acres. It’s all a matter of perspective. Georgia has over a million acres set aside for hunting in Wildlife Management Areas. The two closest WMAs to Pike County are Big Lazer Creek WMA (7,200 acres) and Joe Kurz WMA (3,700 acres).
(A hiker enjoys the view at F.D. Roosevelt State Park. ©Don Brown 2016)
There are 13.7 million hunters in the United States. Finding out how many photographers (hobbyists) are in the U.S. is next to impossible. 500px (an online photography community) has 6 million users. Flickr has 87 million. According to the National Endowment for the Arts, “Twelve percent of Americans take photographs for artistic purposes”. That’s over 30 million people. Anyway you cut it, I think it is safe to say there are more photographers in America than hunters.
1,000,000 acres for hunting.
14,000 acres for photography.
I don’t think it’s too much to ask.
But it is a “big ask” for a rural county so it does take some time for it to sink in. It’s certainly not an idea a county can say “yes” to without a lot of consideration. So, let the consideration begin. It’s not every day you get offered a “world’s first”, but it’s an offer that won’t last forever. I intend to get a Photography Park built. Somewhere. I’ll start with where I live, but I won’t stop there.
March 4, 2016