Testimonials

Survey and Data Analysis

By Len Virges

When I think back to my first day seeing Heekin Park it was a cool windy day around 73 degrees outside and the clouds parted just enough in the sky to where they covered the sun. I got out of my car and could see a group of friends together sitting on the bleachers talking, giggling, and sketching. As I walked over to converse with them, I never would have imagined that they would be my first look into how others view Heekin Park. I talked to them for about 15 minutes. They told me so many great stories about their experiences in the park and mentioned how Heekin Park was their favorite spot to finish their homework. It provided them with a serene and tranquil environment. This moment is when I knew that Heekin Park does mean something to the people of Muncie. These people mattered. If Heekin Park is a place where groups of friends can feel at home, then imagine the hundreds of others that it could be helping as well. Heekin Park is truly a park for the people. 

My name is Len Virges. I am 20 years old. I am an Anthropology major with a minor in History and Ancient studies. I am a senior at Ball State University and will be graduating in the Spring of 2022. For this project, my class examined the importance of parks by answering the questions: What is the role of public spaces in Muncie and who has the power in shaping public space in Muncie? The parks in review were Heekin, McCulloch, Tuhey, and Westside. My group, which consisted of Koby Johnson, Zoe Lawton, Olivia Vincent, Hannah Hayth, and myself (Len Virges) specifically focused on the relevance of Heekin Park. For my portion of the research, I am focusing on reviewing and analyzing the data that was received from the surveys we collected and semi-structured interviews that took place within Heekin Park. 

To begin, I would like to start off by giving an overview of the raw data that was assessed from the surveys. There was a total of 23 surveys taken. Frequent needs for Heekin Park that the surveys address are the want for more seating, parking, and an updated bathroom within Heekin that facilitates privacy as well as better accessibility to accommodate the needs of all park users.  Most of the people who took the survey did not have any children, only visited the park a few times a year, were more likely to rent an apartment or a house and did not have a backyard. When asked about other parks that people attended 16 out of the 23 who took the survey mentioned Cowing, Cornerstone, Tuhey, and Cooley Park. When asked about personal favorite things to do while in Heekin Park 13 out of the 23 people who took the survey mentioned that cabin usage, walking, biking, and going to the dog park, and exercising were frequent favorites. All those who took the survey were informed about Heekin Park through Muncie Star Press Newspaper, word of mouth, or social media.  

People are one of the most important factors in shaping the parks. -Jane Jacobs

It is important to know who participates in the parks in order to get a better fundamental understanding about how parks facilitate communities (Garvin pg. 54). Parks are supposed to be a place where all age groups, genders, and backgrounds can come together to enjoy all activities that are in the parks. One older woman who was interviewed stated, “I enjoy coming to Heekin Park because I like to feed the birds.” Eighteen of the 23 people who participated in the Heekin Park survey were 18 to 34 years old and of those people 15 were white men and women. We noticed in the data that only 2 of the 23 participants who took the survey were around the age of 65. There could be several possibilities for this. It could be because it was noted that there are not many activities for older people to do within Heekin Park or it could also be that since their kids are older, they may no longer feel the need to venture to Heekin Park. Time of day is important to take note of as well. When my teammates and I went to the park we go typically in the afternoon or mid evening. At nighttime it can be too dark making it harder for interactions and during the early mornings there were not too many people out due to work and school on the weekdays. 

As Muncie citizens make their way into the parks, they want to feel welcomed and   comfortable in their surroundings. When people bring their child to Heekin Park they want to feel as though their child will be safe and out of harm’s way. In terms of safety with Heekin Park, the surveys illustrated that no one in the park said that they felt completely unsafe. The average range for the level of safety that a person felt on a scale of 1 being completely unsafe and 5 being completely safe the average was a 3 and no survey dropped below this. All other surveys stayed in a range from 3 to 5 for the level of safety within Heekin Park. From this data, it indicates that the majority of the people who took this survey feel moderately safe or better. 

 Heekin Park is the only Southside park listed within the parks that we are researching. It sits smack dab in the middle of the Industry neighborhood where it caters mostly to the everyday Muncie citizen. In terms of salaries, for Heekin Park, the most common salaries were between $20,000-$35,000 or below $20,000 a year. The least common salaries for people who attended Heekin Park were $60,0000 and above $100,000. With that being said, the ability for a neighborhood park to stimulate money, passionate attachment or conversely only apathy, seems to have little or nothing to do with the incomes or occupations of a population in a district (Jacobs, pg. 102).

                  Neighborhood parks can help a community thrive.-Jane Jacobs

Some people mentioned that they like to bring their dog to Heekin dog park because it is less crowded than Emerson Dog Park and in a good location.

“Heekin is home!”

-An interviewee & Muncie native

Statements like these are what draw people who may not be from Muncie such as tourists into getting a feel for the overall environment. The same thing can be said for the opposite as well. If a park for example has cigarette butts in the grass and trash in various areas as was discovered during our participant observation, then this can obviously portray a negative outlook on Heekin Park because the characteristics that are surrounding it are not those of success. 

 In total our group collected 23 surveys, conducted several interviews, and enjoyed informal conversations for around 43 hours of research time.

References

Garvin, Alexander, and Ronda M. Brands. Public Parks: The Key to Livable Communities. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2011. 54-59.

Jacobs, Jane. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Random House, 1961.

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