In response to Mike’s Manifesto, Jean just posted a very welcome plea for concrete solutions to how to increase play in her neighborhood. The mission of this site is to solve the problem of kids’ lack of play, and we’re currently in the “awareness” phase of fulfilling this mission. However, some parents like Jean are already well-aware of the problem and are ready to start solving it.
So, here, I’d like to discuss Playborhood’s three-pronged approach to solving the problem of kids’ lack of play. I will *not* be discussing specifics of these solution approaches here – that has begun and will continue to unfold over the coming months. The three prongs are: 1) Awareness, 2) Transforming Your Current Neighborhood Into a Playborhood, and 3) Moving to Create a Playborhood.
As I said before, most of what we do these days at Playborhood is create awareness of the problem of kids’ lack of play. We do this by describing different aspects of the problem. This may seem like whining to some people, but a broad awareness campaign is absolutely necessary for a movement to succeed.
Awareness can serve two important purposes. First, it can show all the different aspects of the problem to people who haven’t thought about it thoroughly.
Second, by displaying these aspects of the problem on a blog with user comments, awareness can provide people who agree with what’s said here some validation. There are an awful lot of people out there who need to know that they are not alone. There are thousands, we think millions, of other people who think kids should play outside more. This validation will give us all more courage to forcefully advocate for play to our neighbors and friends.
Working With Your Current Neighbors
If you are dissatisfied with how much your kids play outside in your current neighborhood, you have two choices in terms of actions you can take: work with your current neighbors or change your neighbors. I’ll discuss the former in this section, and then I’ll discuss the latter in the following section.
I have a long list of blog posts that I plan to publish on this. See Transforming Superbia from the Articles section of the right column of this page for the list from the book Superbia: 31 Ways to Create Sustainable Neighborhoods. Briefly, below are a few I’m working on:
- Tear Down Fences: Fences may protect privacy, but they also severely harm kids’ ability to find spontaneous play opportunities. We’ll suggest that like-minded neighbors who have fences between them consider tearing them down. For a preview of this discussion, see No Fences Make Good Neighbors: Berkeley residents combine their backyards from the Articles section of the right column of this page.
- N Street: This is a “retrofit cohousing community” in Davis, CA. I visited N Street and am working a three-part report. I’ll post the first part sometime in the next week. For a preview of this discussion, see N Street from the Web Resources section of the right column of this page.
- Sponsor Neighborhood Dinners: A regular (weekly? monthly?), rotating neighborhood dinner can help your neighbors get to know each other and find opportunities for other interactions.
- Establish a Neighborhood Online Community: Get you and your neighbors to interact online so you can interact more face-to-face? If you think about it, this can make sense. We at Playborhood may create a system to help you do this. Stay tuned…
- Claim an Underutilized Garage, House, or Yard for the Neighborhood: Your neighborhood could use a garage or house as a “common house.” There, you could eat Neighborhood Dinners, hold other social events, watch TV together, or establish neighborhood office spaces. Your neighborhood could use any underutilized yard space as common play space.
Change Your Neighbors
If you don’t like how your current neighborhood limits your children’s play opportunities, you can change it in the foreseeable future by either: a) moving to a neighborhood that has kids your kids ages that play outside, or b) persuading families with kids your kids’ ages who are pro-play to move in as neighbors move out.
Playborhood is considering offering services to help parties in both circumstances, i.e. a) families who are searching to buy a house in a play-friendly neighborhood, and b) families who live in a neighborhood where there is a house for sale and want to attract a family with kids that is pro-play. Stay tuned on this as well.
As you can see, in the coming months we aim to make some real change happen!
G’night for now…