Many are puzzling over how digital technology can be designed to work more for us than against us. But countless such tools already exist to do that—it’sjust a matter of how we use them. This is a personal example of how individuals orchestrated our public-serving governmental entities and digital creations to improve a community’s quality of life.
On a beautiful day in 1999, a few years after we moved to our newly-built suburban neighborhood near Washington, D.C., I got the urge to walk with my six-year-old son to a nearby park.
This was no ordinary destination, but the serene and meticulously cared-for Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, the only such facility in all of northern Virginia.
Though barely a mile long, the walk itself was tough. We fought through tall grass along winding Beulah Road—surely trespassing on other people’s yards. As we trudged ahead, we noticed a trampled area, replete with the fresh detritus of a car accident.
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 →
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 →
A no-nonsense group of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders has transformed “the most depressing park in America” into a kid-friendly community mecca. No small accomplishment since it’s located in what has been considered one of the roughest U.S. cities: Camden, New Jersey.