Hazel Borys compares her Winnipeg neighbourhood with Berlin’s from the point of view her 10-year-old, in Better Cities & Towns:.

… walking around Berlin, my 10-year old pointed out the exceptional numbers of downtown kids, and really enjoyed hanging out in some of the neighborhood parks.

Our favorite was Kolle 37, which for a kid’s experience truly hit it out of the parkProject for Public Spaces does a great job of telling why it works …

Kolle 37 introduces kids to some rather lethal tools – hatchets, fire, hammers, nails – with some coaches close-by to keep the Lord of the Flies away. Within relative safety, the kids have built their own play houses, bake bread in a wood-burning oven, throw some good-looking earthenware at the wheel, grow their own food, and raise some rabbits.


Berlin 1

Berlin 2


I have to admit, as a somewhat safety-conscious mom, at first climbing into the 3-story kid-built structures had me on high alert. Aside from watching out for foot placement and taking responsibility for my own safety, watching how the kids interacted with each other and their tools made me feel that same sort of pride that I did during my first game of watching street hockey – realizing that the kids had the basic skills they need to stay out of harms way, and work through their internal striving.

This sort of cultural inclination to allow and encourage hands-on building must contribute to German engineering prowess? Just as Canadian embrace of our wintriness likely nurtures winter Olympic gold?

My only complaint about the park was that I got thrown out in the end. I hadn’t noticed the signs that said, “No parents allowed,” except in the entrance and exit areas. …

The other thing that makes this a playborhood is the exceptionally safe cycling network. When the streets are narrow and slow with a strong sense of enclosure, cyclists mix with the slow-moving cars. On busier streets, the separated cycling lane mounts the curb, and is separated from the pedestrian sidewalk by punitively bumpy pavers.


Berlin 3


Full article here.


  1. There is nothing more wonderful for a young boy than a summer spent in a tree house with a good roof and a trap door in the floor. Awesome the night sky, the Milky Way and shooting stars, cool breezes, rustling leaves, the heavy scent of rain on the way. I was ten years old back then, my first do it yourself build. My father was somewhere near by lending tools when needed and checking structural things now and then, but mostly invisible for my sake as I now recall. It was high up about twenty feet in the air in a groove of jack pine trees, one at each corner and for some perplexing reason they never seemed to sway in the same direction, which led to a lot of groaning and creaking with in certain limits of toleration. My summer in the tree house ended when a devastating tornado blew down every tree in the groove except the four that were lashed together by the floor beams. The end of innocence surveyed the remains of a once gentle place. The following summer I built a sailboat and I rode the wind all summer long through big blue spaces and places with white capped waves. I came to love the wind as it turned out and eventually I bought a motorcycle when I was old enough, I road it across the country and camped under the stars, the Milky Way, sweet grass for a bed. There are some things about tree houses that last a life time and probably more, light years I would say.

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