Neighborhood Playscapes

Let kids play new header

I don’t know how I’ve missed this but have just run across a wonderful blog called Let the Children Play.  I’ve begun to dig into it and hope you will too but the abundance of great design ideas shown makes it very clear that there really are wonderful solutions to providing better play experiences that traditional playgrounds.

Given that we know what and how to make better and more natural play spaces, and that there are a lot of people who would like to see these come into being, what is preventing this from happening?  I think that most would say that main problem is lack of insurance for designers, builders and play followers (I don’t like the idea of “play leader”).  I’ve dealt with play related risk management and insurance issues most of my carrer and I sincerely believe that this is a solvable problem.

No, I think that the main problem is that, unlike community gardens which are “natural playgrounds” for and by adults, the primary constituency for natural play are parents who are only concerned with this issue while their kids are young.  A quick drive to some nature spot fills the need well enough that, with all the other pressures in their lives, devoting the time and energy to creating a longterm nature spot in their neighborhood is just too much for them.  However, as KaBOOM, Boundless, Shane’s Inspiration, and other community based groups have shown so clearly, when there is an organization that provides insurance and support many amazing play spaces can be built.

Starting a “Neighborhood Natural Playscapes”  organization from scratch is a huge undertaking that would make even the most devoted advocate quail.  So here’s my question to you; is there an existing group who might be able to expand their mission and organization to jump start this idea?

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3 thoughts on “Neighborhood Playscapes

  1. Enjoying the new blog provocative ideas greatly. I’m a long time early childhood educator and play advocate in British Columbia. We share Pacific Oaks as a place of learning. I was there in 1980. I’m also a member of the Canadian Standards Association Technical Committee for Playgrounds (CSA Z614).

    In response to the question about existing organizations who might champion/support the creation of more natural playgrounds in neighbourhood settings (parks, schools, early childhood, other) I would think of two as starting points. In the US the Child and Nature Network (Richard Luov, Cheryl Charles). They have just appointed a new Executive Director – Sarah Milligan-Toffler. I think that the suggestion/opportunity that you suggest might interest them and that your connection to/perspective on the playground sector would be facilitating. In Canada I would suggest a connection to the David Suzuki Foundation in Vancouver. He is one of Canada’s most influential scientist/environmentalist/public broadcaster and as a parent and through his foundation has a long standing interest in playspaces. See his foundation website on school and child care playspaces and on inclusive play and more recently on “home grown parks. The other Canadian connection would be Evergreen with a long history of support for greening community spaces across Canada.

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