Tag Archives: placemaking

Upcycled pallets vs international playground design: one dad’s inspiring backyard ninja course, Stage Fort, and BSA Extraordinary Play


“And on to the zip line. Once again, she has a lot of stuffed animal friends to cheer her on the course today…one-handed over the water bottles, and she makes it no problem…” (the father’s sweet narration)

The inspiring viral video of one dad’s DIY backyard obstacle course for his daughter could easily have been featured in Design Museum Boston‘s  excellent Extraordinary Play exhibition which was held at the BSA space, Boston Society of Architecture.  Extraordinary Play featured the best international public playground design, mostly big budget projects. Based on the posters, my sons and an older cousin thought the sky playground in City Museum, St. Louis, the Blaxland Riverside Park in Homebush Bay Australia, and the Globe Dokk1 Aarhaus in Denmark look amazing!




We’d visit any of the BSA notable playgrounds in a heartbeat if we traveled nearby: Geopark Stavangar, Norway; Adventure Playground, Berkeley; Parque Gulliver, Valencia, Spain; The Globe Dokk1, Aarhaus, Denmark; Maggie Daley Park, Chicago; and Brooklyn Bridge Park, NY. (Scroll below to see those posters.)

Gloucester is lucky to have several good playgrounds. My children loved the gigantic truck, pirate ship and lighthouse at Stage Fort, plus so many paths, boulders and expansive fields and vistas. (I don’t think the sea serpent was there when they were little. We hope they might come back to supplement the excellent swings and climbing structure)


The BSA Space is just across the bridge from the Boston Children’s Museum and alongside the Greenway. The exhibitions are free.




A tip for visitors coming to Massachusetts for the first time is to stop by the BSA lobby to check out the model of the city.

Go before the Freedom Trail! Very helpful- reminded me of the old display at Gettysburg.



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2016 Smart Growth conference #MSGA16

I’m in Worcester, MA, attending the 2016 Smart Growth Alliance conference (I was an invited speaker at a prior conference.)  The conference brings city planners, transportation and civic innovators, real estate and housing professionals, business leaders, non-profits, architects, Great Neighborhood and gateway cities, and –well, let’s just say a wide range of (primarily) policy folk.

It’s surprisingly enjoyable.

This year, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito is the key note speaker and we’ll hear from Worcester the host city. Other headliners include Michael Hogan President & CEO of AD Makepeace Company; Mayor Donna Holaday of Newburyport; Dan Burden the ‘walkability guru’; Parris Glendening former MD Governor and President of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Inst; Veronica Eady, VP Conservation Law Foundation; and Monica Tibbits-Nutt, Executive Director 128 Business Council. There will be more than 70 speakers. Attendees often fan out in groups to cover more panels.  I’ll report back where I’ve landed.

One topic that will swirl in the background concerns housing and a landmark bill S.122 proposing changes to planning, zoning and permitting. The organizers support this in a big way. Director Andre Leroux writes, “We believe that the (legislators) have done a thoughtful job balancing the needs of municipalities, developers, and the environment. “

With two-thirds of Millennials desiring to live in walkable, transit-accessible places at the same time that seniors shift to apartment living, suburban communities have a real test before them.  Communities like Newtonville need to decide between planned growth and unplanned growth. For its peers like West Concord village, Winchester Center, Andover and Newburyport, the future is already happening.” Quite a dishy prompt.

The Boston Globe endorsed the bill, you may have noticed the title: “Make Room for Granny, and other zoning fixes.” Granny does live longer than Grandpa.




Where the Sidewalk Begins- Walk this way again Railroad Ave

Hi Joey,

A sidewalk returns to Railroad Avenue. Some call it place making or Smart Growth. I say sometimes it’s nice to turn back time. Look at the old postcard image. We are lucky to have some of the same wide streets. Clean sidewalks – they’re great for residents. Great for commuters. Easier for families. Thank you DPW! It looks beautiful. I hope it inspires Shaws to match it up on the other side.

Bonus: It’s easier than ever to #strideby the Jeff Weaver mural at Ben’s Wallpaper and Paint and have a closer look. That mural changes now and again.

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The Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance added updates and photos from their special 10 year celebration Smart Growth conference at ABX

Cat Ryan submits-

Hi Joey,

The Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance added updates and photos from their special 10 year celebration Smart Growth conference at ABX. Gloucester and the HarborWalk were showcased with other special MA placemaking spaces.

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MA Smart Growth selected before/after photos by Kim Smith and Leaping, a photo by Cruz Ferreras (shows a Block Party evening, and James Owen Calderwood’s Parsons Street mural) for one of the posters in their booth.

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The official event photographer for the 2013 Smart Growth Conference during the ArchitectureBoston Expo (ABX) was Jean Hangarter. She sent a shout out to photographer—and GMG contributor– Kathy Chapman!

Have fun exploring the range of topics in follow-up from the event http://ma-smartgrowth.org/take-action/smart-growth-conference/

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