Daily Archives: May 29, 2007

Back to the Future of Playgrounds

A New York Times op-ed (Danger: Playground Ahead) by Allison Arieff (5/29/07) points out that playgrounds were originally invented to train future citizens in a social democracy, but to reduce liability issues have offered children less and less opportunity to shape their experience.

Her Op-Ed features a handful of artists/architects to reimagine playgrounds and also describes the Imagination Playground that was recently designed that lets children build things, tear them down and start again, so that each visitor encounteres a different experience.

Playgrouds were also used in the Progressive Era to help build stronger social ties among recent immigrants and between them and the longer-term natives.   The Op-Ed serves as a reminder that we may not be doing enough to maximize the social opportunitiy inherent in traditional playgrounds or more updated forms.

‘Shoeless Joe’ Eat Your Heart Out

A friend recently told me about the Homeless World Cup.  It’s probably not related to social capital, although the inspiring idea is to form national soccer teams of homeless and have them compete for the World Championships.  This year’s finals are in Copenhagen in July-August (2007). 

One wonders whether this can give Homeless a renewed sense of purpose and pride and help shorten the social distance that exists in lots of urban areas.

And there is something about programs like this (e.g., Special Olympics, or Dancing Dreams where young ballerinas with cerebral palsey performed) that shows the power of people demonstrating their abilities beyond others’ expectations and in the process breaking down stereotypes.

Much of getting people to engage in collection action is increasing the perception that the other is an US, not a THEM, and programs like this help us realize our common dreams and humanity.