I am looking for information on what school districts are doing or want to do more innovative school yards here in Northern California

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION I am looking for information on what school districts are doing or want to do more innovative school yards here in Northern California

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    Deborah Christman

    I attended Engaging Our Grounds here in the SF Bay Area two years ago and am inspired to continue learning and working on play yards. After 38 years of teaching, I have seen how engaged children are when they have some control over their environment. 

    Leslie B Wagle

    I thought you might have some responses by now, but I think everybody said a lot already on this thread, which you might not have seen:



    The National Arbor Day Foundation has a program dedicated to designing and creating natural playgrounds. It’s called Nature Explore. They have lots of information, ideas, and resources. The Nature Explore team is a smart, dedicated band of designers.


    A lot of grade schools in Berkeley/Oakland (Rockridge) area are doing a lot of veggie gardens. Alice Waters (chef/Cal alum) has done a ton of work to initiate some fun stuff in the area.

    Deborah Christman

    Thank you both! I have mined the forum site and there is a lot of good stuff there that I have already put to use.

    I am trying to combine my Landscape Architecure certificate and 38 years of teaching into something where I can help the local average SF Bay Area school district make better playgrounds for children. We can do so much better, but there seem to be many hurdles…tradition, money, litigation, lack of understanding of childhood development by facilities people…  I am open to any strategies for jumping those hurdles.

    The information I have so far is a start. Perhaps I need more data showing the benefits in terms of the bottom line for schools (playground behavior, classroom behavior, test score improvements, comparative costs of giant plastic structures and maintenance vs. a bunch of tree cookies and some moveable components…)?

    Liz Guthrie

    Hi Deborah,
    You may have this info. already, but I highly recommend connecting with Sharon Gamson Danks, who is an  environmental planner and a Principal of Bay Tree Design, inc. in Berkeley, CA, and author of the recent book Asphalt to Ecosystems: Design Ideas for Schoolyard Transformation (New Village Press) – She is an expert on ecological schoolyard design at all levels, and her knowledge of the local school district systems may be particularly helpful to you since she is based in the Bay Area. 

    Good luck!
    – Liz

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