The Green Spirituality of Playgrounds

I guess I am doin' all right. I'm studyin', and like the teacher says, it pays off. A lot of time, though, I wish I could walk out of that school and find myself a place where there are no whites, no black folk, no people of any kind! I mean a place where I'd be able to sit still and get my head together; a place where I could walk and walk and I'd be walking on grass, no cement with glass and garbage around; a place where there'd be the sky and the sun and then the moon and all those stars....I feel I can stop and think about what's happening to me-it's the only place I can, the only place.

-A 12-year-old girl who had never left her neighborhood (recorded in Boston, 1974, by Robert Coles)

In families with children, the year does not begin in January. Rather, August waning and September waxing signals the advent of another school year. In addition to the usual totems of fall-leaves, cider, pumpkin pie, Indian corn-there is an almost wholesale absence of children outside.

I do not mean to write about the return to school. Rather, whether urban or rural, most of us move indoors dictated by weather and seasonal change. I welcome the invitation to turn homeward after summer's gregariousness and I appreciate the structure. But empty playgrounds and vacant ball diamonds lead me to think about the importance of space in the lives of children and those they depend on to make sure that space is adequate, safe, ripe with possibility, and rich in beauty.

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Sojourners Magazine December 1994-January 1995
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