Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Buy This Playborhood Book!

I've been a fan of Mike Lanza's ever since I stumbled upon his Playborhood Blog. As his website says, "he's worked hard to create a very rich neighborhood play life for his three boys - ages 7, 4, and 2 - in Menlo Park, California. He's also discovered and written about dozens of neighborhoods throughout North America that are doing innovative things to make a vibrant life for kids. Prior to his writing career, Mike was a five-time software and Internet entrepreneur in Silicon Valley."

So, in addition to playing with his boys, he has written a book:In Playborhood: Turn Your Neighborhood Into a Place for Play, you’ll find inspiring stories of innovative communities throughout the US and Canada that have successfully created vibrant neighborhood play lives for their children. You’ll also get a comprehensive set of step-by-step solutions to turn around your family and neighborhood cultures, so that your kids can spend less time in front of screens and in adult-supervised activities, and more time engaging in joyful neighborhood play.

I like what Joan Almon, Director, Alliance for Childhood, had to say about this book:

“When I was young my friends and I played all over our neighborhood. It was our world, and it gave us the security to go out later and explore the wider world around us. Life is different now. You can drive through the safest neighborhoods and they look like ghost towns. Not a single child is outside playing. I am so grateful to Mike Lanza for reminding us that play begins at home and in our neighborhoods. It takes so little to make it happen there – just awareness, passion, and commitment. This book helps to feed all of those.”
— Joan Almon, Director, Alliance for Childhood

I moved to California 14 years ago from the midwest. The first thing I noticed about the neighborhoods here in the East Bay were the fences. They were everywhere. Each yard has a high, privacy fence. We didn't have fences in the midwest. In the Chicago suburbs, all the backyards melted into one another and became one huge field for play or naughtiness or whatever.

The next thing I noticed was the deserted streets after school. After school, my boys and I lived outside on our street (luckily it's flat, with sidewalks and a cul de sac that dead ends into a park, that our community built, BTW). Our street became (and still is) the baseball diamond, the pitching mound, the soccer field, the roller hockey rink, the inline skate strip, the bicycle race track, the basketball court, the jogging trail, the skateboard park, the dog walking path, the football field...

My boys are now 18 and 16 and they still spend a good amount of time outside on the street. These days it's mostly used by them for skateboarding or roller hockey, but we have many kids on our block that use the street just as we did for these past 14 years. As I write this, however, I do wish all the kids on our block played outside even more than they do. Most are involved in after school activities and many a weekend goes by with no kiddos playing outside on our street. That makes me sad.

So, my advice to all the kids on my block and all the blocks in the East Bay, read this book and go out and play! Now.


  1. We all need to have more fun and play - especially kids! Thank you for the recommendation!

  2. This is what I like the most about my neighborhood. Over the years, there have always been a collection of kids of various ages doing a wide variety of activities together (some not so good but it's all still a part of growing up). Now, many of the older kids are in college, but the tradition or habit of being together when people are at home has not been lost; when the older neighbors are back in town everyone still gathers in our court in the dark at night. They sit in a circle and just talk under the stars and simply share what's going on in their lives. There is always a lot of laughter and I think a sense of peace for everyone to reconnect. I'm definitely going to check out this book.