The City of Binghamton, New York has a great solution for the empty lots and spaces in its area: parks! As David Sloan Wilson describes in his journal article published in the American Journal of Play:
“the thinking behind and the implementation of the Design Your Own Park (DYOP) Competition, a collaborative project of a university, a city, and a fund-raising organization to empower neighborhoods and restore outdoor play citywide in Binghamton, New York. The city makes vacant lots and other neglected spaces available for neighborhoods to turn into parks that residents design and build with the assistance of faculty and students from Binghamton University’s Binghamton Neighborhood Project.
The Design Your Own Park Competition (DYOP), launched in 2010, is a collaborative effort … to enhance opportunities for unstructured play on a citywide scale by empowering neighborhoods to create parks of their own design.
Neighborhoods typically are not well suited for collective action. From the richest gated communities to the poorest ghettos, most people scarcely know their neighbors. But there is nothing like a common goal such as creating a neighborhood park to bring people together.
The city of Seattle, WA, proposed a similar project, although it fizzled out somewhat after initial interest from various organizations (does anybody remember the name of that project? If so, leave it in the comments below, thanks!).
Check out some of the other articles published in the Spring edition of the American Journal of Play. They deal with some really interesting issues of play, child devleopment, and overall health.