I can feel it in my bones. There are BIG changes afoot in the world of play. Playgrounds will have to be transformed if they are to respond. Designers, manufacturers and buyers will have to make major adjustments to their thinking. Existing playgrounds, over 350,000 in the US alone, will have to be revamped.
The decision to write this column is motived by two primary reasons. First as a sort of mea culpa for my contribution to what I now see is a perfect storm of unintended consequences that has resulted in a playground “industry” that is out of step with the needs of children and families. Secondly, as both an insider and as an outsider I have experiences that can illustrate many of the issues that now confront us.
By way of introduction I’d like to refer you to my Linkedin page www.linkedin.com/pub/jay-beckwith/10/323/17a/. If you scroll down to the bottom there are images of some of the work I have been involved in over the past fifty years.
As with most such résumés only the more or less successful projects are shown there. My intent with this column is to share with you those aspects of my experience that are less public and more personal. Along the way I will give you references to the major influences on my thinking. For example, I highly recommend Brené Brown’s latest book Daring Greatly in which she discusses the value of being vulnerable and speaking from your heart. If I had read this as a young man I wouldn’t have to be confessing now.
Here’s the point I want to make to you. I think that we have been all, well mostly, wrong about how we go about creating places to play. We can do much better. Over the next few months I intend to make this case to you as provocatively as I can. The goal is to stimulate discussion, and in this exchange we will begin to glimpse the future.