8/30/12 Asphalt to Ecosystems Honored in American Society of Landscape Architects 2012 Professional Awards
Asphalt to Ecosystems has recently been honored by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) with a Professional Award in the Communications Category. The awards honor the top landscape architecture designs and projects from across the U.S. and around the world. The ASLA Awards especially consider projects on environmental sensitivity and sustainability. The Communications category recognizes achievement in communicating landscape architecture works, technique, and theory. The ASLA 2012 Professional Awards Jury pronounced Asphalt to Ecosystems “the most comprehensive and usable book. It’s got great ideas that people can actually translate into practice.”
Fruit of the School Gardens: The International School Grounds Alliance is Born!
In the fall of 2011, New Village was the proud cohost of Engaging Our Grounds; a conference in San Francisco that celebrated the growing movement to enliven school grounds around the world. We are so proud to share this video of highlights from the conference with you, coproduced by Erika Brekke and conference director Sharon Danks.
We'd also like to share the exciting news of the brand new International School Grounds Alliance. From the press release:
New international group forms to address an increasingly sedentary and risk-averse generation of children disconnected from nature.
Growing school grounds movement gains international voice with formation of The International School Grounds Alliance.
Berkeley, California (April 24, 2012) – Organizations working to enrich the lives of children through outdoor learning and play have a new global school ground network where they can turn for ideas and support.
Leaders in the school ground movement from Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States have formed the nonprofit International School Grounds Alliance (ISGA) (www.internationalschoolgrounds.org), which brings together a wealth of experience in the fields of school ground use, design, education and management around the globe. The ISGA invites likeminded organizations and professionals to become members and collaborate to nurture and grow the international movement to help schools make the most of learning and play opportunities on their grounds.
“Children around the world, growing up in very different environments and cultural settings, all need engaging childhood learning and play experiences for healthy development and enjoyment,” says ISGA co-founder Sharon Danks of Bay Tree Design in California. “The ISGA is not only a resource, but is also a call to action for teachers, parents, and students to go outside, improve their school grounds and explore the world first-hand.”
The ISGA believes that school grounds should:
* provide powerful opportunities for hands-on learning
* nurture students' physical, social and emotional development and wellbeing
* reflect and embrace their local ecological, social and cultural context
* embrace risk-taking as an essential component of learning and child development
* be open public spaces, accessible to their communities
The ISGA does this by:
* focusing on the way school grounds are used, designed and managed
* facilitating a dialogue about innovative research, design, education and policy
* fostering partnerships between professionals and organizations across the globe
* organizing international conferences, gatherings and other programs
* advocating for student and school community participation in the design, construction and stewardship of school grounds
* promoting the value of enriched school grounds as uniquely positioned, engaging environments for children
New Village is honored to have played a supporting role by cohosting the conference and of course by publishing Sharon's book, Asphalt to Ecosystems, and hope you will join them in congratulating her and spreading this important message.
Shanti Melon of On Earth interviews Sharon Danks
Shanti Melon: Can the schoolyard help replace the nature that's vanishing from most of our lives?
Sharon Danks: I read an article that chronicled how far each generation of kids in a single family ventured from their home to play. As an 8-year-old, the grandfather roamed four to six miles to go fishing. The father wandered about two miles from home, and the son about half a mile. Our kids are lucky if they walk to the end of the block. In many cases, school grounds are their only exposure to outdoor play, and if all they have is asphalt and some liability-engineered version of climbing, I’d say they’re missing out.
To read the complete interview, click here
Sarah Henry interviews Sharon Danks- A Planner Who Favors Edible, Eco Education and RIsks- Berkeleyside
Sarah Henry: Can you give some examples of model green schoolyards around the globe?
Sharon Danks: At the Coombes Primary School in England the children have woods to explore, a pond, and a fire pit in their play area, which is near a large patch of stinging nettles. On the day I visited, the children were making stinging nettle pasta on an outdoor stove. The only people who got stung were the adults. As the director points out: how will we raise capable, responsible humans if we don’t present them with some risk in their environments?
Americans confuse safety and liability but these are not the same things.
Green Playgrounds Spring Up Around Bay Area- The Daily Californian
While elementary school students usually spend recess in yards with endless asphalt and harsh metal structures, children in any schoolyard designed by Berkeley-based environmental planner Sharon Danks instead play in blooming gardens, shaded ponds and nature trails.
"A green schoolyard ... allows the teachers to teach their classes outside, to provide play environment that is richer than the traditional one - that has creative play and active play balanced, and one that reflects local ecology in a number of ways," she said. "Around here, it usually means having less asphalt."
To read more, please click here
California Academy of Sciences to carry Asphalt to Ecosystems
The Naturalist Center of the California Academy of Sciences has announced Asphalt to Ecosystems as a new addition to it's library. The Center names it as a great choice for teachers and parents. For more information, click here
Glen Kizer of Energy Seeds and the Foundation for Environmental Education interviews Sharon Danks
Glen Kizer: Since schools have classrooms, why do you feel it is necessary or important to make the schoolyard part of the curriculum? Aren't schoolyards for play and classrooms for education?
Schoolyards can also be fantastic places for messy art studios, outdoor music and drama performances, hands-on science and math lessons, language and social studies, geography and geology lessons, nutrition education, and other topics. Many schools also develop outdoor classroom spaces of various sizes so that teachers can use their enhanced grounds as effective teaching spaces.
At the preschool and elementary school levels, these enriched, naturalized spaces also provide wonderful, open-ended, imaginative play venues where children can dream up their own games among flowers, trees, and boulders, choose to play sports, or climb and swing, as they like. At all grade levels, green schoolyards can also provide comfortable environments with shade, clustered seating to encourage social gatherings, student artwork, and welcoming signage.
To read more, click here.
"I'm a teacher, get me OUTSIDE here!" An Interview with Sharon Danks
Juliet Robertson: What is "Asphalt to Ecosystems" about?
Sharon Danks: When you think about "school grounds," what type of image first comes to mind? For many people, school grounds are places covered by paved surfaces and uniform sports fields, adorned with a few nondescript shrubs and trees, and one or two ordinary climbing structures purchased from a catalog. Most school grounds in a given city or region look like all of the others, with very little variation to reflect unique aspects of each school community, the neighborhood's environmental context, or the teachers' preferred curricula and teaching methods.At the same time, children's domain—the areas they can roam on their own outside of school—have been shrinking over the last few generations, leaving many children with only the schoolyard to explore to discover how the world works. If what we are providing them is limited and bland, how will they develop their curiosity, their sense of adventure, and a well-rounded world view?
A movement is growing around the world to give our children a richer environment at school—to provide places for teachers to teach their lessons in a hands-on manner outside; places for children to explore a corner of the natural world to see how it functions; and places to run, hop, skip, jump, twirl and play in active, challenging, and creative ways.