Since growing up in rural NH Bret Ingold has traveled extensively and lived in the US and many places internationally. While exploring and learning, Bret has gained a unique skill set working in a wide range of industries including: hospitality, building, sailing, off-grid caretaking, disaster relief, refugee education, the arts, metallurgy, and much more. Through RISE Now Bret hopes to use his diverse experiences to help bring about contagious systemic change.
I was recently asked a great question: When there are so many pressing problems such as starvation, desertification, wars and disease, why is making playgrounds from old tires important?
Where to begin? Our playgrounds prove tire “waste” can be useful construction material. They also prevent discarded tires from becoming breeding pools for mosquitoes infected with Malaria and Dengue fever. They even stop private developers from buying up once open, public space and abandoning it to garbage and squatters.
But the real answer to this question is that development work is supposed to empower local resiliency. Thousands of pages of research attest that play and playgrounds are essential for childhood development of cognitive abilities, creativity and problem solving skills. If we can add this often missing element to a community’s education system, we can help enable young people to find local, lasting solutions to the challenges they will inherit.
The idea of providing a better future for our kids is probably the oldest idea of sustainability, one that predates the word sustainability by millenia. We may never see the whole reach of this work and the effect these parks have on the futures of these children and of their communities, but this does not mean it is not immensely important. If we are always reacting to the disaster of the day, we ignore the underlying causes. We will be stuck in a cycle of aid and relief that consumes resources and energies.
So why are playgrounds important? They are a simple, clear step that we can all participate in to build a better future. Along with addressing social issues, they encourage education, childhood development and community strength as they become a symbol of goodwill towards children and for a community’s burgeoning power. Oh, and yes, because playgrounds are a lot of fun!