41 Main Street in Topsham, Maine
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Community Playgrounds

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Community Built Playgrounds Maine and New England, Maine
1986 through 1998

What started as a simple playground design at my kids school in Brunswick, with no idea of ever doing a second one, evolved into 35 playgrounds in Maine and beyond. All built in the community “Barn Raising” model, where a community would come together sometimes with up to 300 people and over the course of 3 or 4 days would erect a magical playground for their children.

Beginning six months or so prior to the actual construction time an intense “Design Day” would be held at the school where I would meet with the children in their classroom and listen to all their ideas. From this information an initial “concept” plan was drawn up and presented that same evening to the parent group. What followed was usually up to six months of fundraising, material procurement and organizational meetings that I orchestrated.

The construction weekend was like a ballet with me as the architect doing conducting. Sometimes it seemed that I needed a whistle and a striped shirt, but it was great fun, a 72+ hour adrenaline rush! The construction site was divided into 12 to sometimes 16 smaller construction sites, with crew leaders for each. These “skilled” workers were then assigned all the labor they needed from the vast pool of eager volunteers. The result in all cases was not only a magical playground the children had dreamed of, but a community of new friends made while coming together to “raise” the playground. When I left I had sometimes 300+ satisfied customers, a very good marketing tool for a new architectural practice!

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