COURSE OF ACTION
For those seeking some guiding support, we’ve developed some steps in the course of action, also described in our manual ‘Free Play for Nature and Children’.
What are your strengths and weaknesses, what are your experiences, taking part in long term innovative projects, what was your own role in this, what talent/expertise did you bring in, in what context (existing organisation, loose informal cooperation, etc), what did you learn from this (both in negative and positive sense).
The ‘coming out’ and first plans – dreams and investigation
Maybe it’s been a long time wish to engage in some way in creating green play for children. But how to go about this? How to find the right supporters, the right moment, the right location? What context or organisational structure would fit best: a working group, a small instant committee, involve experts when needed, or aiming even for a whole movement? What will be your own role in this? Should it be a community project? To what extent do you want other actors to participate? Investigate constraints with regard to personnel, finances, and location. In this stage we recommend to visit other locations, resembling your own, which can serve a source of inspiration. Gather information and photos. And already throughout this stage, it’s important to get clear how the future location will be used and by whom.
The main aim in this stage is to develop a shared vision of what the green area should look like and how it will be used.
Collect information about children’s needs and wishes. Design through participation, e.g. let children make drawings and 3-D models, collect stories. Present the design to an expert group, a working group, parents, etc. Spread information, to ensure transparency and enhance participation. The aim of this phase is to develop detailed plans (with regard to workforce, materials, budget, time schedule) for the changes you want to make. Don’t forget about the maintenance aspect. Tip: try not to overdesign, leave room for changes and adaptations along the process. And realise: you might not be able to realise the whole plan, you might have to take smaller steps at the time.
In the previous stage you’ve already decided how you intend to realize your project, how much participation and with whom. Make sure in this stage to be well prepared as to: materials needed, organising workforce (professionals/volunteers/children), planning of the work to be done. Make sure to attract media attention.
And remember, in all stages, but certainly in this stage, it’s important to celebrate, zoom in on special moments: turning of the first stone, planting the first tree, making a whole in the fence, whatever special events and achievements come up: count your blessings!
In every project, ideally, the planning, design, realisation and maintenance/use are from the beginning intertwined in one organic process. To check whether or not you’re on the right track it’s good to regularly try to get feedback from both children and adults, those using the green playarea. And remember: be open to suggestions for changes. It is unlikely that your play area will be perfect from the very start, and it certainly will not stay perfect forever. The development of outdoor spaces should be a continuous process, so as to ensure that they suit the needs of future generations of children too!
* Learning through landscapes, our English sister organization