"Playborhood:" Parent guide creates community playscapes

"Playborhood," a new how-to guide for parents gives tips on how to turn empty spaces into the kind of community playscapes that increase the safety of neighborhoods, while encouraging kids to get off the couch and play.

Courtesy of Playborhood
In his new book "Playborhood," author Mike Lanza has created a how-to guide for parents who want to turn local empty spaces into the kind of safe community playscapes that encourage activity and add value to neighborhoods.

Parent and play advocate Mike Lanza is not one to move into a new neighborhood and hope for the best for his kids.

The author of the new book "Playborhood" describes in great detail his philosophy and the elbow-grease steps he undertook to create a life for his kids, and those who live in proximity, that more closely mirrors the kind of playful, neighborhood-based childhood kids had 30 to 40 years ago than the  sedentary, living-room-based one that many have today.

Lanza accomplishes this with great humor and plenty of vivid examples of people reclaiming their community spaces for play and gathering, from inner city Bronx, to an apartment-complex courtyard in California, to a formerly faceless intersection in Portland, Oregon.

As such, his can-do spirit is not only infectious, but is backed up with specific how-to's: informing a reader how to turn a driveway into a giant game board, for example, or a yard into a nature or other playscape where kids will want to come play.

A self-proclaimed neighborhood play evangelist, Lanza and his wife and three sons are walking the walk (and playing the play), and clearly influencing others to come along and have fun.

"Playborhood" also explores the larger issues of what makes a community work, from home and neighborhood design (think front porches and calm streets, for starters) to human behavior. Lanza believes in block parties and community dinners, and in giving kids a little room to roam.

Lanza has created a terrific and heartfelt blueprint that should result in safer neighborhoods, more joyous and cohesive families and communities and, ultimately, more kids getting out to play.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Susan Sachs Lipman blogs at Slow Family Online.

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