VOX - Dave & The Darker Side of Play
Dave doesn't have to be at work until 3:00pm. But one day I arrived around noon to find him hauling a van full of donated wooden pallets - his palms scraped and scabbed from a minor crash on a speeding scooter the previous afternoon. I would often find him like this, before the workday, digging a waist deep hole on the playground, assembling a rudimentary shed, or rigging a den in a neglected corner. Playworkers call these "sensitive modifications." The changes are left to be claimed and re-imagined by the first child who finds them.
He laughs, telling me about a recent shenanigan in which the kids painted his co-worker green (like... head to toe, glasses, jeans, jacket...) and got him to chase them them through the surrounding neighborhood like a monster. Neighbors and parents peered through their curtains, shook their heads with a smile and scooted their own children out the front door. "That about sums it up really," he says.
But Dave takes this work seriously and acknowledges that playwork is not always silliness and games. Supporting play can challenge adult sensibilities and demands reflection, and humility. Here, Dave speaks about the darker side of play, and why it's welcome at The Land.