Bring the Children Back

Society is a constantly changing entity and if we, as place makers, do not keep up then vital factions of culture and development will be lost. In the readings and class discussions it is clear that certain aspects of childhood are examples of what we could or already have lost. In “Children and City Design: Proactive Process and the ‘Renewal’ of Childhood” and “Go Play in the Streets” by Ray Lorenzo the case for the importance of a street education is made clear. As a result the ideas being discussed in these papers are vital to the discourse of our class. One of our main goals is going to be to try and obtain a voice from the Perugian children as to what they want to see us design and eventually create.

 

I was interested in the section about the “proactive process” that it takes for positive change to be established. It is fascinating how far cities have moved from being child friendly to what they are now. Kids used to play baseball in the streets, now they can barely get a game together on a field. Lorenzo explains that bringing back such mentality is not an overnight procedure but instead a complex and difficult process that could take years. However at its fundamental core has to be a commitment to hearing from a diverse array of sources including children. Without these inputs no populace will genuinely get behind the change. Other factors are eluded to including the participatory process but I discussed that in my last piece. Essentially when we go about applying these readings to our work in class the larger picture has to be considered. It would be cool to build a swing set on the terrace. I love swings. However that may not be what the children actually want (plus a swing set could be dangerous next to the perilous fall).

 

Finally, when my parents came to visit my Dad provided me with interesting insight. In his line of work he has had to use research from focus groups of children. He said that many of the leaders of these groups apply a similar process: ask the children the pertinent question and have them draw ideas on sheets of paper, have them share to the group their ideas, come up as a group with the best ideas, then ask them what they think about any plans you had. This way, what you are interested in will not effect their thinking process, you ascertain many of their ambitions, and hear their opinions in regards to your own thinking.

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