STL Made Feature Pocketparks
Updated: Oct 12, 2021
Small Park, Big Impact.
Through Pocketparks, Samantha Lee Smugala is bringing art, activation and opportunity to transform vacant lots into community gathering spaces.
Story By Alecia Humphreys Visuals By R.J. Hartbeck
When Samantha Lee Smugala went for a run in downtown St. Louis late last year, emptiness enveloped her.
“It was probably in the middle of the pandemic last October or November, but the streets were just empty,” says Lee Smugala. “It was a gray, overcast day. There was nothing going on. There were no people, no life and the city just had a completely different vibe.” One scene with such a vibe — a vacant lot located at 10th and Locust streets — stopped her in her tracks.
“I stopped to snap a picture of what is now our first park, the DUC Park,” says Lee Smugala. “I actually sketched a racquetball court on the picture. That was the first concept – I posted it on social media, and it just started gaining traction.”
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Sunday Stretch with the Gateway Region YMCA at the DUC Park.
Photo By R.J. Hartbeck