Walk in the park? Take park with you

grasswheel.jpg(Daily News) When these four university students walk down the street, hamster jokes are hurled at them. That’s understandable, because they’re walking in a giant hoop lined with sod. Four Dalhousie architecture students stunned passersby yesterday as they showed off their summer project – and made a social statement. They say there’s not enough green space in Halifax and that their contraption is a way to “take the park with you.”

Mystech: I wonder if I can get a matching giant water bottle and a bed of cedar chips?

Playing on the grass

“We’re looking at the idea of green space in the city,” said grad student Kevin James. “Even in the Public Gardens, you’re not allowed to walk on the grass.”

Halifax Downtown Coun. Dawn Sloane says they’re right, except for the Public Gardens statement. In fact, playing on the grass is allowed in the children’s area, but the problem is nobody knows about it.

“I think our biggest issue right now is that not only is our green space being utilized for some of the wrong reasons, but they’re under- utilized by the communities, and we do need more,” she said.

There are efforts to make parks more user-friendly, such as adding seating and lighting in Victoria Park across from the Public Gardens.

The hamster-wheel-like project took four days to construct and is made of plywood and mesh. James said they attached the sod to the mesh with fishing line.

From Spring Garden Road to Argyle Street to the waterfront, the four students took turns walking in the wheel. Occasionally, they paused to let kids try it out, or to let a multitude of tourists and locals take photographs.

People who were curious enough to ask one of the students what it was all about got slips of paper explaining the students’ ideals.

“They’re just really curious about it,” said James. “And we get a lot of hamster jokes.”

Asher deGroot said walking in the hoop takes a little getting used to.

“It’s pretty weird,” he said. “Inevitably you duck your head … even though it’s made for a six-foot person.”

Then there’s the grass and dirt that falls on your head as you go around.

Drew a crowd

“It has a feeling the way it wobbles,” said deGroot.

In their matching T-shirts – with logos of the Beatles a la Abbey Road walking in hoops – they enjoyed drawing a crowd.

It was intended as a one-day project, but deGroot said they might take the wheel out again, or change its function into something more, well, university-ish.

“We might flip it over and make it into a hot tub.”

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