The John Dutton Theatre built in 1963, is housed in the city’s Central Library. At its inception, the Central Library boasted technological features such as a record lending library and a coin operated Xerox photocopier. It also housed an art gallery operated by the Glenbow Foundation. In 2018 the central library branch will re-open in the East Village as the New Central Library, designed by Snohetta Architects of Oslo, Norway.
Julie Guimond, Leader Environmental Education, City of Calgary
Cynthia Watson, Chief Evolution Officer, Vivo for Healthier Generations
Kris Fox, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of Calgary
Evan Dickenson, Associate, Torys LLP
Heather Cowie, Manager East Region Recreation at The City of Calgary
Jeremy Klaszus, Journalist (moderator)
Playgrounds offer learning opportunities for children, incite spontaneous play and physical activity, foster an appreciation of natural environments, and in turn inspire environmental stewardship. Well-considered spaces, material and structure choices can help to create economical solutions to the physical, social and ecological well-being of communities.
d.talks hosted an event to discuss approaches that encourage play and how to design spaces that rouse the imagination where no matter what age we would all want to linger and play. Panellists were Cynthia Watson, Kris Fox, Julie Guimond, Evan Dickinson and Heather Cowie.
Cynthia Watson, is the CEO of Vivo, an organization that proposes solutions to respond to the sedentary behaviour of children. Vivo is a recreation centre and also conducts research. Current findings suggest that encouraging spontaneous active play in natural environments can promote an understanding of the natural world, promote activity and foster an ability for children to evaluate risk. Natural play spaces and mobile adventure playgrounds can encourage social, physical and environmental literacy.
Kris Fox is an Assistant Professor in Landscape Architecture, from the University of Calgary. Collaborating with students and colleagues with expertise in child development, medicine, and public health, Kris created the Outdoor Playbook, an online community resource and “How-To Guidebook” that offers research and best practices for school grounds. Blending together the perspectives of landscape architecture, sustainable design, economic and phasing strategies, child development, injury prevention and outdoor educational opportunities, the guidebook emphasizes the use of inexpensive and sustainable materials and construction methods.
Julie Guimond is the Leader for Environmental Education with Calgary Parks. This past year The City piloted the Mobile Adventure Playground. Unlike traditional playgrounds, the adventure playground promotes risky and unstructured play, giving children the tools to build their own park. The pilot provides children with the building blocks for their playground, such as PVC pipes, tools, rope, tires, and fabric. The mobile playgrounds offer an opportunity to design, explore and collaborate with other children.
Evan Dickinson is a Senior Associate with Torys LLP and shared his knowledge on the standards applicable to children's play spaces and equipment. While play spaces are often “safe” in terms of rules and standards as set out by regulatory bodies, they are often at the loss of innovative and stimulating spaces that benefit the development of children. The prevalence of similar components and structures throughout parks in Canada may point to CSA standards favouring certain manufacturers in the market. Regulation, in the name of safety, might actually be hindering the potential of outdoor educational opportunities and benefits to the community.
CONTINUING THE CONVERSATION
The panelist book for this event was Savage Park: A Meditation on Play, Space, and Risk for Americans Who Are Nervous, Distracted, and Afraid to Die by Amy Fusselman. Visit Shelf Life Books and the d.talks recommends shelf to read up on d.talks themes.
Become an advocate for your neighbourhood parks and playgrounds and consult the Outdoor Playbook for ideas and tools to create sustainable, low cost and enriching outdoor play spaces.
Follow Calgary’s Mobile Adventure Playground Starting in May, see the schedule for the roving park here.
Attend the International Play Association Conference coming to Calgary in September.
Read more about the Baltic Street Adventure Playground.
EVENT SUPPORTERS AND FRIENDS
Printing courtesy of Little Rock Printing.
Special thanks to Mayor Naheed Nenshi for opening remarks and to our delightful panellists Julie Guimond, Evan Dickinson, Cynthia Watson, Kris Fox, Heather Cowie and Jeremy Klaszus for moderating the event.
Words by Tammy Primeau