City planners are finally starting to grok that in order to keep residents, they will need to offer the whole package, including playful spaces for everyone, kids and grown-ups alike.
About a decade ago, the so-called creative class of 20somethings fueled the revival of urban centers by settling in downtown areas mixing condos and coffee shops. Now, as millennials and other urbanites have children, their needs are changing. Cities want to hold on to them by becoming more “playable,” for both children and adults.
For decades, cities “relegated kids to the playground and said, ‘We’ve done something for you,’ ” says Darell Hammond, chief executive of Washington, D.C. nonprofit KaBOOM!, which consults with city officials on promoting and preserving play. “The whole city should be a playground, and play should happen everywhere.”
That means not only building more parks and bike paths but also incorporating the ideas of “fun” and “play” throughout a city, whether it is musical swings downtown Montreal, a hopscotch crosswalk in an arts district Baltimore or camp sites on a city lake front Chicago.
I hope that this attitude shift from city planners and designers makes it more acceptable for grown-ups to go out and play, and I mean actually physically play, not just go to bars and concerts that were traditionally classified as the only acceptable adult “play.” Seattle and Portland, and are definitely accepting and encouraging of grown-ups playing bike polo in city parks or just going for a run. Creating an environment that welcomes play also helps change the attitude of others