I’ve been thinking a lot about something I’ve come to call funfrastructure community infrastructure that has no purpose other than to bring fun into the lives of the citizenry. Brother Johnny came up with the excellent name.
Funfrastructure is infrastructure that’s not built to enhance the economy. Or to allow easier access to shopping. Or increase tourism numbers. Or to better dispose of sewage. It’s not roads or bridges or sidewalks (unless they happen to be otherwise needlessly beautiful). It’s not educational, or healthy. Well, it can be. But that’s not why it’s built.
Funfrastructure is infrastructure that exists just to let us have fun.
Kings Castle Provincial Park in Murray River is pure funfrastructure: how could a park filled with concrete fairy story animals, off the beaten tourist track, be considered anything else:
Victoria Park, in downtown Charlottetown, has fitness and nature overtones, but it also allows for a lot of straight-ahead fun, even if it’s just going for a walk:
In Frederiksberg Have in Denmark a few years ago we stumbled across an area of the park filled with experimental park furniture. It’s art, of course, but decidedly not of the paintings-on-walls variety, and anything you can climb on is more fun than art:
Playgrounds are almost always funfrastructure. And walking trails. The water slide at the CARI Pool in Charlottetown is funfrastructure: while the pool itself can be educational, therapeutic, or used to increase fitness, there is no other reason to go down a water slide than for the massive amounts of fun it involves.
Even a simple place to sit by the sea can be funfrastructure:
Museums can be dull and educational. But good museums childrens museums, science museums can be funfrastructure. Any place you have to take off your shoes, or that involves huge amounts of Lego, is probably a good candidate:
It’s important to think about funfrastructure right now because it’s the hardest kind of infrastructure to guide through the political process. And it’s extra especially hard to get built during times of constructed financial crises when we’re all supposed to stop having fun, and eat more turnips.
But funfrastructure is important: without it, well, there’s less fun. And we need more fun: it’s what builds communities, brings people away from their televisions, cures a heavy heart, and, in the end, makes life worth living.