Monday, 24 September 2012

Zan's Trip to Ithaca: Part 2

After wandering around the Farmer's Market in Ithaca, I met up with Rusty and Alex who took me up to the Anarchy Zone for an afternoon of play. The Anarchy Zone is a patch of land next to the Ithaca Children's Garden, a community garden. Rusty has worked hard to transform this land into a place for children to take ownership of, and to freely play. I was super excited to see this new Adventure Playground, especially in the US because there aren't many around! Here are the pics:

Hoorah! I am here!

I arrived to find a den/fort already, next to the picnic table.

This is the first time that I've seen burdock! Inspiration for velcro!

This photo was taken just before I was stung twice by bees. Sigh. Apparently, I'm that person.

Here is wider image of the playground. There is the pile of soil from International Mud day on the left, and a pile of wood chip on the right. Behind me, is the Anarchy Zone hut.

Here's one of the first children that came to the site. Tree climbing time! :)

Such variety of loose parts!

Time to do some digging.

That's Rusty up in that tree.

I decided to watch the children play from above.

More children and more tree climbing - this was a fantastic tree with it's very own camo design.

Rusty here, discussing tyre rolling technique with a nervous participant after just rolling around in a circle on his own. Video to follow!

Hanging out in the tyre and discussing possible movement.

It had rained for the most of the morning and quite happily a fantastic puddle had formed next to the Anarchy Zone which attracted a lot of attention.

Alex and her little friend, digging in the woodchip pile.

Taking a leap from the tree. He was awesome.

Multiple den building.

In the foreground here, this isn't a den or a fort. This is a hotel. Oh yes.

Shortly after we helped the children re-build their hotel to accommodate two residents, the children all ran away. We thought we might have accidentally adulterated the children's play and scared them all away. Thankfully the children came back, and not only took control of it again, they also made it even higher. Haha.

The session ended with a very full-on but really happy hay fight.

The Anarchy Zone is awesome. I am in awe of Rusty, setting up an adventure playground in a world where freely chosen playful adventure for children isn't always met with approval. Rusty has done a fantastic job, along with Alex and Ellie who help out on the site. They have really embraced the site and taken on the playworker role with much enthusiasm! It's still early days for the Anarchy Zone: Rusty and his team are still finding their feet and learning what's best for their community of children and their adults. Ithaca is a great place to start up a project like this, and Rusty is completely surrounded by supportive people and organisations with open minds. I'm totally impressed with how well they have done, and want to spread the word that good playwork practice is happening in the US. It is possible, it is permanent, and it is wonderful. And kinda different to the adventure playgrounds I visited in the UK.

A huge thank you to Rusty for showing me around, Alex for letting me sleep on her sofa, and hoorah for the Anarchy Zone! :)

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