Nature-Play City Park Thrives Near U.S. Capital

Fallen Tree in Constitution Gardens

Not far from downtown Washington, D.C., kids perch on tree branches, dig in the sand, and busily port sticks from one place to another. An adult rests on a swinging bench while someone else sniffs a drift of coriander. This is Constitution Gardens, a different kind of park.

It all started with a competition. The city council of Gaithersburg, Maryland wanted to enliven a sliver of public land that had devolved over the years into a dull, little-used cut-through. The renovation should reflect the many new cultures that now infuse the locale. The new park would be an antidote for what Last Child In The Woods author Richard Louv calls “nature deficit disorder,” a malaise that settles over children when they don’t have enough time outside. Continue reading

How Nature Play Builds Balanced, Durable Kids

Girl balances in pop-up park

Could a soggy patch of dirt and some logs be better for kids to play on than sleek slides and swingsets? Absolutely, say some child development experts.

Angela Hanscom, for instance, is an occupational therapist who sees strange new symptoms among today’s kids. In her research and testing, Hanscom observes that more and more elementary-age children: Continue reading

When the Maasai Picked Up the Phone

Leopards used with permission compress

I’ve written before about Wisdom 2.0, the conference that bills itself as “addressing the great challenge of our age: to not only live connected to one another through technology, but to do so in ways that are beneficial to our own well-being, effective in our work, and useful to the world.”

This year while I was there, I was lucky to get to know innovative yoga instructor and author, Elise Marie Collins. Over the days, we talked about what would have happened if we’d known ahead of time the consequences that spending so much time with personal digital technology would have on our minds and bodies. Continue reading

Luck in the Time of Peeps

Recycling and wagon crop compress

It was frustrating.

I had set aside my copy of the Peeps AwardsThe Washington Post‘s reader challenge to make the best darned marshmallow Peeps diorama ever. This year, they were even celebrating the “decade of champions.” But when recycling day rolled around and after I’d spent a weekend away, the Peeps were nowhere to be seen.

I looked for them them among the week’s junk mail, shiny catalogs, and other paper refuse as I shifted it from mail basket to recycling bin, but no yellow bunny. Continue reading

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