Making Your Neighborhood a Better Place to Play

Want to better your community but don’t know where to start? Enter It’s the Little Things: a weekly Strong Towns podcast that gives you the wisdom and encouragement you need to take the small yet powerful actions that can make your city or town stronger.

It’s the Little Things features Strong Towns Community Builder Jacob Moses in conversation with various guests who have taken action in their own places and in their own ways.

When you think about a strong town—a place where Strong Citizens and local elected officials work together to make their town more financially resilient—you may not consider “play” a necessary element.

However, an important part of achieving long-term resilience is remembering that we must, too, build lovable places; places where people want to live and share their ideas, talents, and opinions.

Play—going outside and interacting with our neighborhoods—is essential to building a lovable place. It encourages spontaneous interactions with our neighbors; it enhances the safety of the neighborhood. And, above all, it helps us love where we live.

Sadly, in the prevailing suburban development pattern—where families are pushed farther from the day’s needs, encouraging an auto-dependent lifestyle—people, especially children, don’t have many opportunities for play in their neighborhood. The wide streets encourage drivers to speed, so parents hesitate to allow their children to play outside; the redundant, perfectly-assembled playground, with its brightly colored monkey bars and slides, sits mostly unused.

That’s why this episode’s guest, Morgan Leichter-Saxby, co-founded Pop-Up Adventure Play: a non-profit organization that provides online resources, mentorship, and in-person training to help people create their own places to play, especially for children. Places that, as you can see in this video, don’t resemble your traditional playground (in the best way).

And here’s the best part: Morgan’s methodology embraces the grassroots, low cost, adaptable approach to building successful, financially resilient places that we at Strong Towns love.

In this episode, Morgan shares how you can create low cost, low risk places to play in your neighborhood, including how to pitch the idea to your neighbors, how to commit to an incremental approach, and how Pop-Up Adventure Play can help throughout the process.