Apparently "junk" playgrounds have been around for more than 60 years, but I first saw one a couple of weekends ago in New York City. The kids were having a ball, and the adults watching from outside the fence seemed just as happy.
play:groundNYC is open on weekends on Governors Island. I couldn't get too close, but you can see that the kids are in a field filled with scraps of wood, pipes, tires, street cones, tables, rope and lots of what adults would call waste.
The playground's website says a playworker, akin to a lifeguard, oversees the yard to ensure that the kids are not subject to hazards. Instead, the philosophy of the non-profit playground encourages "risk" as a way for children to challenge themselves. Wouldn't it be great to have one of these in downtown Tucson?
Wouldn't it also be delightful to have a merry-go-round downtown? This one is in San Francisco, as I recall.
The SeaGlass carousel in Battery Park in Manhattan is a collection of fiberglass fish inside a building shaped like a nautilus. Maybe we could have lizards, roadrunners, jackrabbits and javelina.
A merry-go-round would be pricey, of course, but this next idea isn't.
The garden car is planted in Toronto, but it would be just as at home on Fourth Avenue, no?
And now, one more cheap way to improve Tucson:
Years ago someone used to sneak out in the night and scatter poison pellets downtown. Come morning dead pigeons littered the sidewalks and streets The sight of the vermin did not make me sad.
Nonetheless, it is a terrible idea to put out poison because it kills cats and hawks and any other animal that eats it. So I do not advocate killing pigeons. But I would love to see these "no feeding" signs downtown. Now to the big finish. Idea Number Five.
The Men's Active 20-30 Club of Tucson has the nut of a fabulous idea with its annual Tin Cup Open, a one-day fundraiser downtown that is part mini-golf, part bar-crawl. It features one-hole putt-putt golf at locations around downtown.
But imagine a permanent, full, free 18-hole miniature golf course spread across downtown. Would you grab a putter and a ball and come downtown to wander around with friends? Bring your kids, buy them ice cream. And perhaps a limonada or beer for yourself. It would be fun. It would be performance art. It would be a Tucson thing.