05 May 2008

Private Playstructures

The decline of public play is a theme of this blog. This author touched on this when trying to figure out why he disliked the plastic play structures so common in backyards:

Children's play equipment and the decline of the American yard
at Slate

...Lurking somewhere, either peeping out from the back or nakedly displayed right in front, some form of children's play equipment, typically in plastic and typically in some bright primary color, will probably be splayed on the grass.

I'd like to raise just one question about this picture of domestic bliss: How often do you actually see a child playing on, or near, one of these devices?

....the fear of injuries and their litigious consequences forced the closing, or banal "post-and-platform" retrofitting, of many playgrounds.
"Told incessantly to be mindful of lurking dangers and the people who might inhabit the outdoors, [paranoid] parents often defer trips to public spaces. Going to a playground becomes too exhausting for a parent to contemplate." And so instead of a communal play space, each yard becomes a (rarely used) playground unto itself.
.... "To a four-year-old, though, the space made by the vaulting branches of a forsythia is as grand as the inside of a cathedral, and there is room enough for a world between a lilac and a wall."


DP said...

I admit, we live in a house with a small yard that includes a small (wooden) swing set (prior owner installed). But we (and our daughter) also love to go up to the park and play on the big equipment and (probably more importantly) with other kids.

In case you haven't heard of them, I recently came across a cool non-profit organization - KaBOOM! Their mission:
"KaBOOM! is a national non-profit organization that envisions a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America."
Hard to argue with that. I haven't seen it since it was done, but they did a project at Owl's Nest Park in O'Bryanville a couple months ago.

Dan said...

When I was a kid, no one really had a swing set in my neighborhood because we all went to the neighborhood park. Slide, swings, monkey bars, basketball court, sandbox, big field . . . Everyone would walk there or bike and your mom would walk up and yell for you when it was time to come home.

dmichaelclary said...

I actually have one of those plastic structures and my kids love it. But we are moving into the downtown area to a house where there is a public park literally in our front yard but no swingsets or any such playstuff. It would be great to have one there.

CityKin said...

^Kids can play without such a structure for sure, but it might be worth lobbying the CRC for a swingset.

Radarman said...

Today's children will never know the stupendous pleasure of pumping your swing so high that it drops at the top, taking your stomach with it.

I guess we have IKEA to thank for the hideous colors of the dopey lawsuit-proof play complexes. Do you really want your children in a room packed with plastic primary hues? They are disgusting.