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.
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.
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.
Full article here.