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What our Playgrounds Say about Us

Giant Wood Ant from Andrew Frost

Civic art in LA County

Play sculpture designed by Isamu Noguchi 

What's your style? 

What is the general look at feel we want for our playground? 

  • Natural?
  • Handmade/Community art?
  • Bold/Urban?

A group of us met at the playground last night, after the kids were in bed, to imagine all that could be. There wasn't any disagreement about what we want and don't want, though the details are yet to be worked out. Hence the question about style. We need a cohesive vision to hold together the moving parts, which will likely be realized in phases.

To start, a short list of our demands. No, not demands, Priorities. Our wish list.

1. A hill, some steps and a slide. Sounds very basic and it should be. In the space where the current playground equipment stands, we want to build a small hill. On the side facing the ball fields, we want generously wide steps to create an amphitheater. On the other side, a basic slide. And so the city doesn't have to mow, some tall native grasses and big rocks.

Natural Playground - Amphitheatre
This is an image from a Waldorf school I found at

2. Sculpture for play. This might include benches that are funky, animals made of concrete or wood or whatever, tunnels or huts made from natural materials, and climbing structures. Some climbing structures we like could be purchased and installed by the city. This one is from the approved Landscape Structures company:
AdventureScapes® Design 3

I'm also personally a fan of these climbers by Beyond Your Ordinary Recreation for $11,652. Is that price seriously for ALL SIX things?

3. Art. Specifically, we want to embellish the chain link fence to include an archway entrance to Reynolds Park.

4. Additional landscaping. This might include paths, currant bushes, fruit trees (if any of the current trees come down), etc.

The challenge now is to work with the Parks, learn the rules and limitations, and make this happen in a way we can all be proud of. And that people of all ages benefit from!

A short excerpt of an article that I cannot find in full compares the cost of a play landscape verses purchasing standard play equipment. They are working with $70,000, which is pretty much exactly what is earmarked for Reynolds Playground, and note that the play landscape accommodates a lot more people and in more creative ways.

If money were not the issue or a limiting factor, would we want bigger, more expensive equipment? Or two hills, maybe connected by a drawbridge....

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