A Playground Where Kids Play With Tools

NYC playgroundKids need places to play, and those playgrounds need to encourage community, exploration, and more. Designing a good playground can be harder than it sounds, it’s not as easy as putting a slide in a park and hoping that’s enough. A good playground has risk and challenges the players.

In New York City there is a new spot for kids called play:groundNYC that is unlike other modern parks. This park has tools so kids can try to build things and the grounds are designed to encourage kids to try and experiment with the tools and obstacles present on the site. It’s like an adventure park!

The adventure or “wild” playground movement has risen in response to this overprotectiveness. Its advocates argue that less adult supervision may be more developmentally rewarding for children. There are hundreds of adventure playgrounds in the world, most of them in Western Europe. (The concept was invented in Denmark in the 1930s.) There are about a half-dozen in the United States, with twice as many in the pipeline; numbers are imprecise because the definition of what exactly qualifies as an adventure playground varies. One that undoubtedly does qualify is Adventure Playground in Berkeley, California, a 37-year-old local landmark.

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In New York City Gay Marriage is Worth $259 Million

You read that correctly, a $259 million (USD) boom in New York City’s economy is thanks to respecting human rights! Changing the law to reflect reality and letting homosexuals marry one another has generated some needed economic growth for the local economy. All of this in just one year!

“Marriage equality has made our City more open, inclusive and free — and it has also helped to create jobs and support our economy,” Mayor Bloomberg said in a statement.

More than 8,200 same-sex marriage licenses have been issued over the past year, representing more than 10% of the 75,000 licenses issued in the city, according to a survey conducted by the City Clerk’s Office and NYC & Company, the city’s tourism and marketing organization.

Read more at CNN.

Frank Gehry’s Cool New New York Project

That crazy architect Frank Gehry has an environmental and socially conscious development going up in New York City. I love it when high-profile people work on projects that are down to earth.

Unsurprisingly, New York by Gehry is not seeking LEED certification, but a spokeswoman informed Inhabitat that the building does have a variety of green features, including low-e windows, Energy Star appliances and greywater filtration. Plus, the building has lots of green/outdoor space.

Probably the biggest surprise to come out of the luxury building is that all 903 apartments will be rent stabilized. Developer Forest City Ratner received Liberty Bonds and city tax breaks for the building, so in return they must keep the apartments rent stabilized for 20 years. Plus, a senior vice president at Ratner told DNAinfo that they are offering one month free rent. But that doesn’t mean they’re cheap — rents still start at market rate, which is $3,580 for a one bedroom.

Read the rest at Inhabitat

Hydroponics in Schools

In urban centres where the land has been used for buildings and other infrastructure there is little room for production farms, so how do we teach children about farming? Well, we can use hydroponics to grow plants and help people understand why plants and food are so great.

A school in New York City has installed a hydroponic greenhouse that makes use of rainwater to grow plants for their school.

There’s no soil in a hydroponic greenhouse, which captures and recirculates rainwater to the roots of plants. In capable hands — though maybe not in 5-year-old hands — the 1,400-square-foot structure can produce up to 8,000 pounds of vegetables every year. It is an experiment in environmental education its founders hope will be replicated in schools citywide.

Two mothers at the school, Sidsel Robards and Manuela Zamora, founded the greenhouse, inspired in 2008 by a trip to the Science Barge, a floating urban farm docked in Yonkers. They got New York Sun Works, the nonprofit green-design group that built the barge, interested enough to execute the greenhouse, a bright, open and wheelchair-accessible space, covered by glass and entered from the school’s third floor, that is essentially the Barge on a roof.

It includes a rainwater catchment system, a weather station, a sustainable air conditioner made of cardboard, a worm-composting center and solar panels. In the center of the room is a system resembling a plant-filled hot tub: an aquaponics system home to a community of tilapia, whose waste is converted into nitrate. The system loses water only when it evaporates to help cool plants, consuming only a tiny fraction of the water that a field of conventional dirt does.

“You basically can have this closed system, this symbiotic thing going on, where plants are eating food, creating waste, you’re converting it and then the plants are taking it up,” said Zak Adams, director of ecological design at BrightFarm Systems, which designed the greenhouse and the barge.

Read the full article at The New York Times.