Upcycled pallets vs international playground design: one dad’s inspiring backyard ninja course, Stage Fort, and BSA Extraordinary Play


“And on to the zip line. Once again, she has a lot of stuffed animal friends to cheer her on the course today…one-handed over the water bottles, and she makes it no problem…” (the father’s sweet narration)

The inspiring viral video of one dad’s DIY backyard obstacle course for his daughter could easily have been featured in Design Museum Boston‘s  excellent Extraordinary Play exhibition which was held at the BSA space, Boston Society of Architecture.  Extraordinary Play featured the best international public playground design, mostly big budget projects. Based on the posters, my sons and an older cousin thought the sky playground in City Museum, St. Louis, the Blaxland Riverside Park in Homebush Bay Australia, and the Globe Dokk1 Aarhaus in Denmark look amazing!




We’d visit any of the BSA notable playgrounds in a heartbeat if we traveled nearby: Geopark Stavangar, Norway; Adventure Playground, Berkeley; Parque Gulliver, Valencia, Spain; The Globe Dokk1, Aarhaus, Denmark; Maggie Daley Park, Chicago; and Brooklyn Bridge Park, NY. (Scroll below to see those posters.)

Gloucester is lucky to have several good playgrounds. My children loved the gigantic truck, pirate ship and lighthouse at Stage Fort, plus so many paths, boulders and expansive fields and vistas. (I don’t think the sea serpent was there when they were little. We hope they might come back to supplement the excellent swings and climbing structure)


The BSA Space is just across the bridge from the Boston Children’s Museum and alongside the Greenway. The exhibitions are free.




A tip for visitors coming to Massachusetts for the first time is to stop by the BSA lobby to check out the model of the city.

Go before the Freedom Trail! Very helpful- reminded me of the old display at Gettysburg.



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Cemeteries and playgrounds for all the new old open spaces

New playground ideas land at BSA

You may have been reading about Design Museum Boston‘s exhibit because there has been so much advance press and articles about play. The show opened last week at the Boston Society of Architects venue and will be on view all summer. I’m not sold on the term ‘playscapes’ but I’ll definitely see this exhibit. I’m expecting plans and ideas rather than actual playground equipment. There’s a party favor: a playground passport your kids can leave with as they head out to play for real in Boston parks.

A trending topic the show may cover is the idea of opening up all those schoolyard playgrounds for use by the community when the schools aren’t using them– at night, off days and hours. Here’s a recent article making the rounds from the Atlantic Monthly magazine and the trailer from the documentary The Land.

Extraordinary playscapes BSA

A cemetery budget is no walk in the park (and neither is a cemetery)

Swinging wildly through the stages of life: historic cemeteries, ‘gardens with graves’, are inspiring multi use discussion of a different sort. Cemeteries established in the 1800’s were rolling landscapes, beautifully designed to welcome the general public. Massachusetts’ first one:

“Mt. Auburn is more like a park than a crypt. It is 175 acres of winding paths, dignified trees, whispery breezes, and shimmering lakes. The land, called “Stone’s Wood,” used to be beloved by Harvard students as the perfect place to take respite from the bustle of 19th-century life, and the Cemetery was created in 1831 to ensure that the growing cities of Cambridge and Watertown would not envelop the forest’s beauty. The founders were successful in their efforts.” read more from this Harvard Crimson article.

In Gloucester, renewed attention for care in several cemeteries is under way. Sign up for the Oak Grove cemetery tour June 25th or July 2 to learn more about one of our own ‘Mt. Auburns by the sea’. The tours will be led by Courtney Richardson.