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Firefly Experience

“When I walk through a quiet forest in the middle of the night full of fireflies, I feel like I am in a magical forest. I see fireflies being a mere reflection of stars under the Milky Way, I feel connected to everything in the universe. They are communicating to me. I am listening …”

Photo by Jud McCranie via Wikimedia Commons

These are the poetic words of photographer Radim Schreiber.

Schreiber was born in the Czech Republic, but now lives in a fairyland called … Iowa.

Yup. The Hawkeye State. Corn fields and combines.

Sometimes, it takes a fresh perspective to see the ordinary as extraordinary.

“When I first moved to Iowa, I was mesmerized by the abundance and brightness of fireflies during summer nights. During my childhood in the Czech Republic, I had never seen anything like that,” he recounts on his website, FireflyExperience.org. “It was in 2003, and I was on the plane when I felt inspired. So, I made a sketch on a paper; it was a glowing firefly on a silhouetted blade of grass, with the moon in the background and the dark-blue sky. Since then I had this image in my head, waiting for the right time to materialize.”

Taking advantage of recent advancements in the low-light capabilities of camera equipment, Schreiber began to photograph fireflies in 2008. “The most challenging aspect of firefly photography is the fleeting nature of fireflies. When they glow, they like to fly or move. They never seem to be still for very long, and so I struggle to quickly compose my shots. It was sometimes almost complete darkness and I took the photo right when the firefly illuminated … and all that when being bitten by other insects. This truly shows my patience,” he says with a smile.

Photo by Jud McCranie, http://www.fireflyexperience.org/photos/

Perhaps even more delightful than his photos, though, is Schreiber’s Firefly Experience, which you are about to experience right here.

But before you do, be warned: if you are far from firefly country or have never known the magic of fireflies in person, you will pine. Yearn, even. Fireflies are just that fantastic.

Willing to take the risk? Then, immerse yourself in the Firefly Experience …

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Parklets

Parklet … said just like it sounds: park-let.

And, like other words with the diminutive “-let” suffix …

booklet, piglet …

it means the miniature version of its root word, park.

So, parklet = tiny park.

The cool thing about parklets, though, is that they’re not just small-space parks (that’s more the territory of the parklet’s cousin, the pocket park). A parklet is more of a pop-up type of park that may just, well, pop up in unexpected urban places. Often, it’s little more than a spiffy sidewalk extension that provides a bit of greenery and/or sitting spaces for passersby.

Photo by San Francisco Planning Department via Flickr

“Parklets are intended for people,” says Wikipedia. “They offer a place to stop, to sit, and to rest while taking in the activities of the street. A parklet may be thought of as permanent, but must be designed for quick and easy removal for emergencies or other reasons such as snow removal without damage to the curb or street. As initially conceived, a parklet is always open to the public.”

In 2010, San Francisco began the world’s first parklet project—five pilot projects in four neighborhoods around the city—conceived by London-based designer Suzi Bolognese. This is one of the originals:

Photo by Salty Boatr via Wikimedia Commons

Since then, parklets have started popping up in cities around the world, like this lovely 2016 installation in Lodz, Poland:

Photo by Zorro 2212 via Wikimedia Commons

If your city needs a parklet or two, you might be just the gal to get them going. For ideas and how-to tips, turn your local planning department. But first, you might take a peek at Seattle’s handy Parklet Handbook, which details the application process as well as requirements for designing, permitting, building, and maintaining your parklet. It includes expected timelines for each phase of the project and estimated costs. You’ll also find tips for assembling a team and funding your parklet. The handbook is specific to Seattle, but it’ll help point you in the right direction.

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