The Playful Parents

Love at Play

Meet the Playgrounding Expert, Alex Smith {Playful Dialogues}

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First, let us meet Alex the Playgrounding Expert himself.
Alex is a father of FIVE – two young ladies in their 20s, and three adorable children below 6.

On the road to adventure in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia. Left to right – Alex, Lila-Jeanne, Nellie-Rose and Noah-David

TPP:  Tell us about yourself in a nutshell.

Alex Smith: I’m about curiosity, discovery, fun, family and  friends. I like to write, to tell stories. I am a proud parent of 5 children – four girls and a boy. I love to play outdoors.

TPP: Why is playing outdoors so important for you?

AS: I really enjoy seeing our kids stretch and test their abilities and strengths in outdoor settings – playgrounds and natural spaces. I love their beaming new accomplishment faces and listen the excited stories they tell about their feats.

TPP: How did you get so passionate about play and playgrounds ?

AS: Prior to 3 years ago, I never had more than a passing interest in playgrounds. That might even be overstating it. They were places that I went with my kids to have a bit of fun and let loose with some running about.

In the summer of 2008, we spent sometime in Sorel, Quebec at my in-laws. Grandpapa Raymond is a retired physical education teacher, and is familiar with many of the playgrounds in the town. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the town’s 15 or so playgrounds were all listed with civic addresses on the municipality’s website.

I immediately checked to see if the same was true for the city we call home, Halifax, Nova Scotia. At the time Halifax had no playground listings at all.

In the summer of 2009, I started Halifax Plays. After less than two months blogging with Halifax Plays I realized that this world of playgrounds was incredibly vast.

Halifax Plays was my portal into exploring playgrounds on a more global scale. There is a wide, wide world of playgrounds beyond the pre-fabricated metal and composite plastics modular equipment that is characteristic of many North American cities and towns.

When I first saw a photo of Playground by New York based sculptor Tom Otterness I had an intuition that there would be sufficient material of interest to populate a new blog to feature unique perspectives on playgrounds, on design, on community engagement, on advocates for play. (TPP Sarah: You really MUST check out Tom Otterness’ work! Is it a playground or is it art? Or is it both?)

As it turns out, Otterness’ anthropomorphic sculpture in Manhattan was the subject of the first PlayGroundology post. After 2 ½ years and 200 posts, there is still no shortage of subject matter. I’m having as much fun as I did at the outset as I continue to meet new people, learn more about play and contribute to the broader conversation around play and playgrounds.

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