Monday, August 29, 2016

Kristen Armstrong Park. Say what?

Boise has renamed its Municipal Park to Kristen Armstrong Municipal Park.  Color me unimpressed.

Ms. Armstrong's athletic achievements are impressive, third Olympic Gold Medal and all, but this just feels like pandering, or breathless celebrity worship, or something.  Perhaps a kind of pathetic attempt to bask in reflected glory.  "Yay, Boise has someone who did something and got a little famous!"

Its fine to honor her and her outstanding achievement.  Give her another key to the city, or designate some bicycle trail or road route in her name, something related to her success.  Some bicycle-y thing.

Congratulations Ms. Armstrong, you have a world class bicycle-related accomplishment. Maybe I'm asking too much, but naming a park after someone should honor some PUBLIC good, not just a personal best.  Someone who, say, helped advance the cause of civil rights, or advocated for the homeless; someone who helped lots of people, or created something that lots of people benefit from or enjoy.  

The article refers to a "ribbon of jewels,' parks named after prominent women, which is another way of saying that they were named after the women because of a land or money donation.  Julia Davis, Anne Morrison, and Kathryn Albertson, all had parks named for them not so much as for their personal achievements, but rather because of financial interests. So Kristen Armstrong on this list is an outlier.

Ms. Armstrong has earned and deserves her praise.  But not quite like this.

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