blog - The Land, 25 May 2016 14:29:31 +0000en-USSite-Server v6.0.0-7876-7876 ( Children's MuseumErin DavisWed, 25 May 2016 15:19:45 +0000

We are thrilled to announce three screenings with the Boston Children's Museum, a leader in advocating for children's play! Join us throughout the Summer and celebrate the Power of Play.

On June 11, 2pm - be there for the film and a vibrant panel discussion about play and healthy risk taking with:

Anna Housley Juster, Ph.D., Senior Director, Child Development Boston Children's Museum

Erin Davis, Filmmaker

Carole Charnow, President and CEO, Boston Children's Museum

Michael W. Yogman, M.D., Chairman Boston Children's Museum

Janice O'Donnell, former executive director of Providence Children's Museum and founder of Playcorps.

July 28, 6pm RSVP - Panelists to come!

August 20, 2pm RSVP - Panelists to come!

Learn more about the events and RSVP for a day that works for you at the Boston Children's Museum. See you there!


work and playNewsErin DavisMon, 23 May 2016 15:03:19 +0000 front page of the Business section in this Friday's New York Times hosted two articles tying work, play and family together closely.  In Sweden... an experiment enforced a 6-hour work day for workers with no pay cut.  The results showed increased productivity for the company due to well rested, happier workers. These workers frequently cited quality time with their families as the most rejuvenating outcome of the change. Not to mention the benefits for the children who had meaningful connection with well rested parents. 

In Sweden, an Experiment Turns Shorter Workdays into Bigger Gains, NYT 5/20/16

In Sweden, an Experiment Turns Shorter Workdays into Bigger Gains, NYT 5/20/16

Meanwhile retirees in the US are finding it harder to let their work lives go... completely. These retirees attempt to balance paid work with volunteer contributions in their communities and build connections with grandchildren. 

Work a Little, Play a Little: A New Retirement Strategy, NYT 5/20/16

Work a Little, Play a Little: A New Retirement Strategy, NYT 5/20/16

Often work and play are presented as opposites when in fact they are more like cousins, sisters. Playworker and scholar Brian Sutton-Smith said, "the opposite of play is depression." Self-directed time and space is valuable and healthful for the individual and the society and should be enabled, across the lifespan. 

American Playworker Jobs in NYC!Erin DavisSun, 15 May 2016 15:03:20 +0000 is hiring playworkers and playwork interns for their inaugural year on New York's scenic Governor's Island.  What is a playworker? "A playworker is patient and playful...." Check out their listing for more. Play on!



American Adventure Play Conference!Erin DavisTue, 26 Apr 2016 17:02:40 +0000 American Adventure Play conference (gathering? meet up? mind meld?) is brewing.  Set for February 2017 at the wonderfully evolving Santa Clarita Adventure Playground in Val Verde, California, this will be the first of its kind.  We're gonna go, are you gonna go? 


Register your interest here. No spam, no commitment. Just a few details to support the organizers. See you in California in February!

New Book Alert!Erin DavisTue, 26 Apr 2016 16:58:20 +0000 of the most common responses to The Land from parents and teachers is, "ok, I GET It but how can I convince other people? Where is the EVIDENCE that freely chosen play BENEFITS kids??" It's true that hard facts and figures can tip the scales for folks on the fence, and are critical for decision-makers sticking their necks out to support an adventure play initiative. I bring you: 

Balanced and Barefoot: How Unstructured outdoor play makes for strong, confident, and capable children WOHOOO!!*

In Balanced and Barefoot, Angela Hanscom gives adults permission to release the reins without fear. Her expertise as an occupational therapist affirms what so many of us know intuitively: children thrive when they have access to rich, self-directed play opportunities.

Available now!  (Use it for good, not evil!)


*ok, the wohooo is ours... not part of the actual title...


New Book Alert!
Playworker Job Opening in the USErin DavisMon, 25 Apr 2016 17:01:53 +0000 to be a play worker when you grow up? One of the best adventure play spaces in the US is The Parish School Adventure Playground in Houston, Texas. And they're hiring! Read more about the place and the position at Morgan Leichter-Saxby's blog Play Everything

Adventure Play Is Coming to NYC!Erin DavisMon, 25 Apr 2016 16:54:43 +0000 you to everyone who supported play:ground's campaign to bring adventure play back to New York City.  Follow their Facebook page for updates an inspiration! 

Join us!Kindred SpiritInspirationNewsErin DavisThu, 03 Mar 2016 15:58:58 +0000 us in supporting a new adventure playground in New York City! Play:ground's adventure playground at Governor's Island will serve thousands of local children and be a model for countless American cities.  Wondering how to get an APG in your community? This helps!  Normalizing free play and supporting a standard of professionalism for playworkers is a piece of our shared pie: 

Our film THE LAND was launched through a successful kickstarter campaign and we know first hand how small pledges of support from $1, $5, $10, $100 -- whatever you can give -- MAKE the difference.

We believe in and support play:ground and hope you will too!  Pledge today and play on!



Psst!!Erin DavisMon, 29 Feb 2016 12:21:35 +0000! There is a super exciting Kickstarter campaign launching THIS TUESDAY that will bring adventure play BACK to New York City. This outdoor adventure-play space will provide loose parts, and professional playwork support for child-directed play and serve as a model for countless cities to come! Sneak preview the work of the worthy organizers at play:ground. x

Holiday delivery deadlineErin DavisSat, 12 Dec 2015 19:32:24 +0000

Order soon for Christmas delivery!

Planning to tuck The Land DVD into someone's stocking this year?  Place your order for home DVD by Tuesday December 15 at 5pm for Christmas delivery. Order now

As always, you can screen The Land in your classroom or with your community group by ordering any time through New Day Films

Wishing you a peaceful and playful new year!

NatGeoPressErin DavisThu, 10 Dec 2015 14:58:44 +0000 up in the midwest pre-internet, National Geographic offered the first glimpses of the wide, wide world. Those hours flipping through the yellow bound NatGeo mags nurtured a rich sense of learning and inquiry and early dreams of travel and adventure.

The Land is proud to be included in their Short Film Showcase for a new generation of learners, travelers and more. 

In their words: The Short Film Showcase spotlights exceptional short videos created by filmmakers from around the web and selected by National Geographic editors. We look for work that affirms National Geographic's belief in the power of science, exploration, and storytelling to change the world... more!

Play on!

Two GamesErin DavisWed, 11 Nov 2015 21:32:58 +0000

At our Ithaca screening a gentleman raised his hand during the Q/A with a comment that has stuck with me.  To paraphrase, he stated to the crowd: 

'I heard about The Land film and wanted to come see it, but I didn't really know why.  My kids are grown, I'm not a teacher or anything. But now that it's over I realize why - we don't see children playing anymore, in our neighborhoods and communities. And I sense that and I miss it.  The lack of play affects everyone.'  

He shared this film with us and now I share it with you.  Play on. 

In Brooklyn with Atlas Obscura!Erin DavisWed, 21 Oct 2015 14:31:27 +0000

Thanks to all who came out to see The Land and launch the Atlas Obscura Cinema Club at Videology Bar & Cinema. Parents, play therapists, teachers, future teachers, filmmakers, children's museum exhibit designers and more playful and curious folks all in one room. Plus booze. Onward!

Vermont International Film Foundation - Wednesday October 28, 2015ScreeningsErin DavisWed, 14 Oct 2015 19:18:00 +0000

THE LAND will screen in Burlington Vermont  in Columbia, Missouri!  Catch us the Lunchtime Shorts program on Wednesday October 28, 2015 at NOON

For ticket information and directions visit VIFF.  Director will be in attendance for a Q/A!

Citizen Jane Film Festival - Saturday October 24, 2015 ScreeningsErin DavisSun, 27 Sep 2015 04:48:53 +0000

THE LAND is honored to be a part of the 2015 Citizen Jane Film Festival in Columbia, Missouri!  Catch us the shorts program on Saturday October, 24 at 5pm. Make a weekend of it and spring for a festival pass! 

Tickets are available now through CJFF

Providence, RI - Thursday October 22, 2015ScreeningsErin DavisSun, 27 Sep 2015 04:11:31 +0000

THE LAND will screen in Providence, Rhode Island on Thursday October 22nd at 6:30pm at the Providence Children's Museum. Tickets are FREE and open to the public when you RSVP. 

Please join us after the screening for a lively discussion about the film, adventure play and the benefits of risk to kid's physical and emotional development.  Panelists include director Erin Davis, Janice O'Donnell, creator and executive director of PlayCorps and educator and filmmaker Michele Meek who will also share a sneak-preview of her work in progress, a new film about adventure play. 

For more information and to register for the event, check out the Providence Children's Museum's website and plan a visit! Don't forget to RSVP for tickets... See you there!

Brooklyn, NY - Monday October 19, 2015ScreeningsErin DavisSun, 27 Sep 2015 04:09:13 +0000

THE LAND will screen in Brooklyn, NY on Monday October 19th at 7:00pm at Videology Bar & Cinema. Tickets are on sale NOW

This special screening is brought to you Atlas Obscura celebrating the launch of their Obscura Society Cinema Club.  This premiere event will feature two documentaries about unusual realities of the contemporary world. Filmmakers Erin Davis (The Land) and Hannah Jayanti (Gasper & Son) will join audience members for discussion after the films. Please join us!

Videology: Williamsburg, BK - 308 Bedford Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11249

For more info and tickets clickity click here

Ithaca, NY - Friday October 2, 2015ScreeningsErin DavisFri, 25 Sep 2015 17:31:33 +0000

THE LAND will screen in Ithaca, New York on Friday October 2nd at 7pm. Tickets are free if you've registered for the Play Symposium and available for individual sale HERE.  Please join us for a discussion afterwards with a dream team of panelists including Joan Almon from the Alliance for Childhood and Morgan Leichter-Saxby of Pop-Up Adventure Play. 

For more information about the Ithaca Children's Garden Play Symposium: A Gathering of Change Makers Working to Foster a Culture of Play visit their website

Pecha Kucha Night in Burlington, VermontErin DavisFri, 25 Sep 2015 17:24:48 +0000

Director Erin Davis will be talking play & playwork in Burlington Vermont on Thursday September, 24 at the Burlington City Hall PechaKucha Night! Details and tickets available now!

Play Symposium at the Ithaca Children's GardenKindred SpiritNewsErin DavisTue, 15 Sep 2015 00:14:44 +0000

Play advocates UNITE at the second annual Play Symposium at the Ithaca Children's Garden featured on NPR, Katie Couric's Katie show and, of course, home of The Anarchy Zone adventure playground.  Meet and hear from kindred spirits making play happen all over the country.  

We'll be there listening and learning and screening the film.  Registration is open now!

San Francisco: Architecture and the CityScreeningsErin DavisWed, 09 Sep 2015 16:18:37 +0000 Arch&City.jpg

San Francisco! THE LAND will screen on WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER, 16 at 6:30pm as part of The Architecture and the City Fest. Tix are free but you have to register in advance.  We wish we could be there. Enjoy this wonderful event at the Main Public Library!

Editor of THE LAND Eric Risher will be in attendance for a Q/A!

Also don't forget the Berkeley Adventure Playground is just a hop and a skip from the screening, where it has been for 37 years!  Consider a visit. Play on. x


Camden International Film Festival ScreeningsErin DavisTue, 01 Sep 2015 15:06:02 +0000 are proud to announce that THE LAND will screen at the Camden International Film Festival in Camden, Maine this Sunday September 20, 2015.  

Director will be in attendance for Q/A, tickets and passes are available now.  We hope to see you!

Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival!ScreeningsErin DavisThu, 06 Aug 2015 13:53:05 +0000 Land will screen at the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival in Middlebury, Vermont on SATURDAY AUGUST, 29 at 1:30 pm!  Director in attendance seeing as it's right around the corner from our house. 

Mark your calendars, tickets are available at the door for $11. But consider a festival pass as the lineup includes extremely excellent films that you'll be thinking and talking about for weeks like APPROACHING THE ELEPHANT, THE WOLFPACK and ALMOST THERE.  All details at the website!

NY --#x3E; Philly --#x3E; SFScreeningsErin DavisThu, 23 Jul 2015 18:40:19 +0000 LAND is coming soon to New YorkPhiladelphia and San Francisco AIASF.jpg

August 4!

An ENCORE presentation with Rooftop Films. 
Tickets are FREE WITH RSVP!


August 12!  

The Infill Philadelphia: Play Space initiative welcomes THE LAND at the Center for Architecture

Tickets on sale now!
*Director in attendance for Q&A.



September 16!

The 2015 Architecture and the City Film Festival  is all about PLAY: Design in Action.  

Mark your calendar and get on their mailing list! Tickets and more details to come as the date draws near. 

AFI Docs, washington DCNewsScreeningsErin DavisThu, 28 May 2015 14:48:17 +0000

We are proud to announce our upcoming screenings with AFI Docs in Washington, D.C.!

Friday June 19, 12:15p

Sunday June 21, 7:00p

Tickets available now!

Rooftop Films, NYCNewsScreeningsErin DavisThu, 14 May 2015 13:31:46 +0000

We are thrilled to have our New York premiere with Rooftop Films!  Outdoor screenings all Summer long.  See you opening night for "This Is What We Mean by Short Films!"

FRIDAY MAY 29, 8:00pm

(North Roof & South Roof)
220 36th Street, Brooklyn, New York, 11232
D, N, R to 36 St


Full Frame 2015NewsErin DavisThu, 16 Apr 2015 00:55:05 +0000 again after a dreamy weekend at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival sharing The Land and marveling over the incredible docs this year. It was such an honor to be included.

My eternal thanks to the children and families of Plas Madoc and the staff and supporters of The Land adventure playground, especially Claire Griffiths, David Bullough, Luke Sutton, Nicola Milburn, Natalie Sear & Aaron Jones.

And heartfelt thanks to the incredible filmmaking team: Julia Reichert, Steven Bognar, Liz Cambron, Erick Stoll, Eric Risher & Jim Klein.

One more special shout out to the INCREDIBLE audiences at Full Frame who traveled from near and far! Thank you for your energy and questions. Play on!

WORLD PREMIEREScreeningsErin DavisWed, 11 Mar 2015 22:29:14 +0000 are thrilled to announce that The Land will have its WORLD PREMIERE at the 2015 Full Frame Documentary Festival!

2015_Laurel_OfficialSelection_outlines copy.jpg

This is a huge honor and we are beyond thrilled. Thank you to everyone who supported the film from the very beginning and who found us along the way. Special thanks to the children and families of Plas Madoc, to Claire Griffiths, Dave Bullough, Luke Sutton, Natalie Sear, Nicola Milburn & Aaron Jones for welcoming our crew, teaching us and sharing this special community and space. Your work is a model for so many around the world. 

If you are in Durham, mark your calendar for the afternoon of April 10th, we hope to see you there!

Albert Maysles (November 26, 1926 – March 5, 2015)Erin DavisSun, 08 Mar 2015 01:33:24 +0000

I was lucky to spend the Summer with Albert Maysles in 2011 before leaving New York. His work reminds me that viewers are patient, compassionate and smart, and should be treated as such. Also that there is transcendent beauty in the smallest, tiniest movements and moments that should be deeply relished. What a gift. x

Sneak Preview in Washington, D.C.ScreeningsErin DavisFri, 20 Feb 2015 16:33:57 +0000 us for a sneak preview of The Land at the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital!



Saturday March 21, 2015
West End Cinema
Washington, DC
TICKETS on sale soon. 

A panel discussion will follow with Hanna Rosin, author of The Overprotected Kid with Rusty Keeler, designer of The Anarchy Zone at the Ithaca Children's Garden and director Erin Davis. Can't wait to see you there. x

RipplesErin DavisSat, 03 Jan 2015 15:24:59 +0000 I was emailing with a local Vermont artist about something unrelated to play. She must  have clicked through to the website from the footer of my email as after our exchange ended, she sent one more note:

P.S. I am an art teacher in the Central school. An article that our staff shared on “The Land” inspired us to remove all rules from our playground so that students were allowed more risk taking and are encouraged to work out differences and make personal choices. It’s been an interesting change in philosophy for many of our staff members. We are pretty hands off unless we see someone being physically hurt or bullied.

I mean, WOW.  It's so warming to hear from others tapping into the world of playwork and child-directed play.  Permission goes a long way.   Onward!

Why junk? InspirationErin DavisMon, 13 Oct 2014 16:28:45 +0000 parts come in all shapes and sizes, many more tidy and beautiful than junk. Playworker and author Arthur Battram explains why at The Land, swings and slides are replaced by old tires, broken down treadmills, grocery carts, old toys, sticks, mud.... He answers the question, WHY JUNK? 

Hats Off!Kindred SpiritInspirationNewsErin DavisMon, 13 Oct 2014 16:19:39 +0000 off to Erin Marteal and her amazing team at the Hands On Nature Anarchy Zone at the Ithaca Children's Garden for their work creating the very first Ithaca Day of Play! An inspiring gathering of smartypants and play aficionados, the curious and determined, all scheming about the future of adventure play in the US.

Thanks to everyone who attended and contributed to the good vibes and great ideas, and who has supported and inspired us along the way (looking at you, folks at The Land & Pop Up Adventure Play!) Onward! ‪#‎playwork‬ ‪#‎playrev‬ ‪#‎anarchyzone‬

Playworker Development CourseKindred SpiritNewsErin DavisThu, 25 Sep 2014 14:55:21 +0000

The Pop-Up Adventure Play Playworker Development Course has a couple of spots left in their remote study program!  Immerse yourself with fun, smart and experienced playworkers who've worked with kids and families in the UK and the US. 

Get $100 off your registration with code FREEPLAYMOVIE while spots are available, deadline Sunday, September 28, 2014. x

Ithaca Day of Play NewsKindred SpiritErin DavisThu, 25 Sep 2014 14:32:06 +0000 us on Saturday October, 11 in Ithaca, New York for a gathering of change-makers who want to foster a culture of play.  Ithaca is home to the Hands On Nature Anarchy Zone at the Ithaca Children's Garden and THIS is the place to meet and get down with others who are creating successful adventure play projects in the US right now.  Many people write asking how they can learn more about creating adventure play sites... The answer: ATTEND THIS EVENT

Check out the lineup. We'll be there talking about the film and more.  Hope you can make it!

On The Anarchy ZoneErin DavisWed, 17 Sep 2014 00:04:22 +0000

The most exciting thing about the Hands on Nature Anarchy Zone at the Ithaca Children's Garden is how the play team talks about the playground as a space that is evolving. They are observing and responding to the kids and families of Ithaca, finding their footing with the practice of playwork, and experimenting with sustainable models for employing regular, well trained playwork staff.  

Like Plas Madoc (home to The Land), Ithaca is a very playful community, and for that reason, the AZ is an exciting and inspiring model in the US. Peter Gray makes important points in this piece, essential critiques that the AZ would probably not deny. But as Suzanna Law aptly states, we can't go "from zero to chainsaw."  And in the spirit of Bob Hughes, the defining quality of a good playspace should be CHANGE.

The Anarchy Zone is constantly changing. It is staffed and informed by Playwork. It is a baby, 2 years old, in the right place at the right time. Pay attention! It's the real deal.

Submit Your PhotosNewsErin DavisWed, 10 Sep 2014 13:39:12 +0000 Deadline!  Tuesday, September 30, 2014. 

We've received dozens of photos from throughout Europe and want even more!

Any era, anywhere in the world.  See below for details. x  

 St. Paul's Adventure Playground  Bristol, England   Photo courtesy of Tom Williams

St. Paul's Adventure Playground

Bristol, England 

Photo courtesy of Tom Williams

 Stewarts Road Adventure Playground  London  Photo Courtesy of Grant Lambie

Stewarts Road Adventure Playground


Photo Courtesy of Grant Lambie

 Crumbles Castle Adventure Playground  London, since 1976  Photo courtesy of the Islington Play Association.

Crumbles Castle Adventure Playground

London, since 1976

Photo courtesy of the Islington Play Association.

Attention! The Land documentary seeks still photographs of adventure playgrounds from around the world, from any era, for possible inclusion in the upcoming film. 

 Photo courtesy of Nancy Rudolph

Photo courtesy of Nancy Rudolph

 The Anarchy Zone  Ithaca, NY, USA  Since 2012  Photo by Erin Davis

The Anarchy Zone

Ithaca, NY, USA

Since 2012

Photo by Erin Davis

 The Land  Wrexham, Wales, UK  Since 2012  Photo by Erin Davis

The Land

Wrexham, Wales, UK

Since 2012

Photo by Erin Davis

If you have pictures up your sleeve, please email up to 3 high resolution images of your favorite adventure play site to erin [at] playfreemovie [dot] com with the following information:

  • The name of the playground (as it is known to the children).
  • The city where it's located.
  • The year the playground was established.
  • To whom should we credit the photo.

Deadline: Friday September 19, 2014. But don't wait, send them today!  Now extended!

Direct questions to erin [at] playfreemovie [dot] com.  Play on!



Submit Your Photos
Brains at PlayKindred SpiritErin DavisMon, 04 Aug 2014 17:57:31 +0000 evidence that play is an ancient behavior essential to the survival of the species, and getting girls. Featuring a cameo-of-sorts from George Clooney. 

Why do we humans like to play so much? Play sports, play tag, play the stock market, play Duck Duck Goose? We love it all. And we're not the only ones. Dogs, cats, bears, even birds seem to like to play. What are we all doing? Is there a point to it all?

Via @NPR. x

The Katie ShowPressErin DavisWed, 09 Jul 2014 22:42:44 +0000 A taste of our own medicine, getting grilled about adventure play by Katie Couric! Shout out to Rusty Keeler for repping The Anarchy Zone so brilliantly and for Kate for her playful support. What will America think?

A taste of our own medicine, getting grilled about adventure play by Katie Couric! Shout out to Rusty Keeler for repping The Anarchy Zone so brilliantly and for Kate for her playful support. What will America think?

And thank you, of course to Katie Couric!  It is such an honor to be on the show and share the story of The Land.  Have a great week, all!

Updates!Erin DavisTue, 08 Jul 2014 04:07:22 +0000

For infrequent updates with the most important news about The Land documentary, our official mailing list is up and running!  Sign up and send us a shout. For more frequent links and happenings, we're on Facebook & Twitter. x

In Play As In LifeErin DavisSat, 05 Jul 2014 20:11:43 +0000
Taking risks is essential if a child is going to learn about the true nature of life on earth.  Risk, in play as in life, is not only unavoidable, it is everywhere. 
Bob Hughes, Evolutionary Playwork


Edutopia's 5-Minute Film FestPressVideoErin DavisMon, 30 Jun 2014 15:32:34 +0000 big thanks to Edutopia for including us in their 5 Minute Film Fest: Encouraging Kids to Get Outdoors!  The Importance of Playing with Fire (Literally) is lined up with eight wonderful pro-child videos including Project Wild Thing and the one and only Sesame Street:

We are officially one degree of separation from ELMO, wee!!

Play on. x

Gnarly in PinkVideoKindred SpiritErin DavisTue, 24 Jun 2014 15:45:02 +0000 this!  Vibrant, funny, gnarly and real -- a delightful kindred spirit.  Play on!

Seen in full at the NYTimes.

RigamajigErin DavisSat, 07 Jun 2014 14:50:52 +0000 beautiful new Rigamajig was donated to The New School of Syracuse in the name of our supporters when we reached our Kickstarter stretch goal last year! Open ended and collaborative, it's perfect for schools, playrooms, daycare, grandma's house and more. 

In this interview, creator Cas Holman talks about the child centered philosophy in her design process. "One common comment I hear from parents ... is 'kids love building wheeled Rigamajigs- you should include an axle,' and I reply 'but then the wheels wouldn't fall off!" She continues, "It's not about a final product. It's the playful process."  Amen!

The GuardianPressErin DavisMon, 12 May 2014 16:29:36 +0000

"Is it madness, or a model for the future?" Cast your vote by sharing the story with teachers, parks departments and advocates in your community. 

PBS News HourPressErin DavisSat, 10 May 2014 19:20:11 +0000

As seen on the PBS News Hour - Judy Woodruff speaks with Hanna Rosin, author of The Overprotected Kid, about the benefits of risk in play and features our footage of The Land! 

A Brief History Erin DavisSat, 10 May 2014 15:06:31 +0000 the culture of fear, "helicopter" parents or No Child Left Behind came the real enemy of childhood. The *thing* that changed it more than anything else, everywhere: the automobile. 

Hello, Denver!PressErin DavisThu, 08 May 2014 17:13:38 +0000 special thanks to reporter Madeline Schroeder for sharing the ideas of adventure play with her 30,000 readers in the Front Porch Stapleton.  

I want to give credit to author Jay Griffiths whose idea I referenced when I spoke about children being free spirits, drawn to adventuresome characters like performers and cowboys. Jay writes about this in her incredible book Kith: The Riddle of the Childscape which I evangelize at every opportunity.  

In thinking about this idea, I'd like to add Harry Potter to the list of magic-infused, inspiring risk-takers.  Who else do children admire and mimic in their imaginative play?  Sports heroes... who else? 

The AtlanticPressErin DavisThu, 01 May 2014 14:34:52 +0000

Thanks to everyone who viewed and shared the clip and Q & A at The making it one of their most watched videos.  We continue to get daily emails from around the world from teachers, parents and advocates wanting to learn more and see the film.  We can't wait to share later this year.  Play on!

CBC Radio: The CurrentNewsPressErin DavisMon, 21 Apr 2014 18:33:09 +0000 time to hear this 25 minute segment about play on CBC Radio's latest episode of The Current.  It's an honor to be included in the conversation about play alongside some incredible voices:

  • Bruce McLachlin, the New Zealand principal who banned rules on his playground, resulting in decreased bullying. 
  • A pre-school teacher with a hammer and nails offering in her classroom & 
  • Roger Hart on anarchy as self governance among children and more.

It's a great conversation starter if you're advocating for play.

Link not working?  Google: " CBC Freedom to be a kid " 

Link not working?  Google: " CBC Freedom to be a kid " 

P.S. Link not working?  Google: " CBC Freedom to be a kid " 

P.P.S. A note of clarification: children at The Land are not "encouraged to play with sharp tools and run around with pointy sticks."  They do, however, have permission to use tools and other objects including paint, bikes, tires & palettes etc., as they wish.  Safety is a high priority at The Land.  However, an important distinction is made: safety involves removing hazards.  It doesn't involve removing risk. 

Smith Memorial PlaygroundErin DavisTue, 15 Apr 2014 13:42:16 +0000

photo by Suzanna Law

This weekend in Phili I reunited with Pop Up Adventure Play for one of their final tour stops at the Smith Memorial Playground.  One of the first warm nights of the year, we had a lovely workshop with parents, teachers and play staff on the porch of Smith's historic mansion. 

I screened a scene in progress, which happens to feature some advanced fire play and playworking by Dave.  Impressive stuff.  It was a thrill to see the footage projected for the very first time and gave me chills to think of the many more backyard screenings to come.

On Saturday there was playworking in action as Morgan and Suzanna did their thing in the Pop Up Adventure Playground.  I flexed my own playwork muscles and became, essentially, a tape ripper for a few hours (duct tape is hard for little hands, but PERFECT for cardboard swords). Kids had access to all sorts of stuff and could make or do anything they wanted. "Is this a science club?" I was asked more than once.  "Nope. Just go for it."  And they did.

Pop Up Adventure Feather Box @ Smith's Pop Up Adventure Playground.

Pop Up Adventure Feather Box @ Smith's Pop Up Adventure Playground.

Getting the Word OutPressNewsErin DavisTue, 15 Apr 2014 12:23:37 +0000 interviews in 3 days with national news outlets in 3 countries, each in a different media -- Katie Couric, daytime American TV, CBC Radio Canada & The Guardian UK -- yow! Getting the word out about The Land (the doc & the playground!) Will post links when they're up. 

Room With A ViewErin DavisMon, 31 Mar 2014 15:16:55 +0000

Yes, that's the office - on the left. 

In a play space that is constantly changing there is one thing that is firmly planted, not going anywhere -- The Office.  The green shipping container at the far end of the playground is where children first stop after crossing The Land from the main entrance, before digging into their day's play.  

The office sits empty when the playworkers are busy with the kids outside.

The office sits empty when the playworkers are busy with the kids outside.

Inside is where Claire sorts receipts and tabulates the budget.  Where playworkers write and file risk assessments (below) and graffiti the walls with quotes like, "through play we become human."  

Frequently throughout the day, constantly even, heads pop through the door.  "Hiya." "What are you doing?" "Where's Dave?"  "Have we got a saw?" "Can you build me a den?" "What time is street play?"  

Dave files a report after putting a band-aid on a scraped knee. 

Dave files a report after putting a band-aid on a scraped knee. 

And despite an inch of muddy slush, a sofa, and piles of loose parts (broken umbrellas, loose papers, a box of foot-long stickers of the number '6', two silver trash cans, and a pack of socks to rescue cold, wet toes...) the playworkers squeeze in each evening to share a brew (tea!) and reflect after a long day.  The slimy view of an ever-changing playspace cannot be beat. 

Sit back and enjoy.

Sit back and enjoy.

Cozy in its disorder, there always seems room for one more.

Q & APressErin DavisWed, 26 Mar 2014 00:32:14 +0000 had a great opportunity to answer some questions for The Atlantic about the film and what keeps adventure play from taking off in the US.  Check it out!

The Overprotected KidPressErin DavisFri, 21 Mar 2014 15:16:07 +0000 footage from The Land documentary film premiered on The Atlantic online alongside Hanna Rosin's exciting cover story about The Overprotected Kid.  

There are many powerful moments in the article including reflections by Hanna as she watched her young son play at The Land for the first time.  A great read. 

You can find the clip on The Atlantic Video Channel and here:

Play on!

Helen LevittInspirationErin DavisSat, 15 Mar 2014 15:37:52 +0000 the morning re-visiting the work American street photographer Helen Levitt.  If you're interested in this film, I'll bet you could sink into her work as well. 


Play is fun, the picture declares, but deeply serious. (more)

Levitt’s consistent and canny framing of play-scenes makes the picture itself into a space of play. (more)


Play on, all - in whichever form you choose!

Risk circa 1600InspirationErin DavisFri, 14 Mar 2014 20:31:34 +0000

Two Children Teasing a Cat

Annibale Carracci (Italian, Bologna 1560–1609 Rome).

Was thrilled to see this risky moment at the MoMa recently.  "Two Children Teasing a Cat." 

The picture may well carry a moralizing lesson similar to our expression "playing with fire." One of the children will surely get scratched. (source)

Somehow I doubt the message was intended for the children depicted in the painting. 

Risk circa 1600
ABC Radio National, AustraliaNewsErin DavisMon, 03 Feb 2014 00:27:48 +0000, Australia!  ABC Radio National, Australia aired our radio story about The Land on Sounds Like Radio, an eclectic remix of audio documentaries and soundscapes from around the world.


Also featured is a delightful audio doc, Thirteen Ways by Pejk Malinovski that beautifully illustrates children's imaginations through (sonic) poetry.  Listen to both!  

Thank you, ABC Radio National!

Best Comment EverErin DavisSun, 02 Feb 2014 16:48:46 +0000 week a great comment came through at, where the radio story of The Land premiered.  

When I first came back from The Land, I showed some rough footage to a few kids I know.   They were hypnotized, oohing, awing, asking:

"What do you do there?"

"Anything, really"

"oh... [lightbulb] AWESOME!"  

Later, I realized the 8 year old had slipped away.   I found him in the play-room building with a cardboard box he'd dragged out of the garage, some other items from the recycle bin, blankets and pillows -- he'd even taken some pictures OFF THE WALL to create the boundaries of his fort. Permission and possibility, they translate quickly.  

WBEZ - Chicago Public RadioNewsErin DavisThu, 26 Dec 2013 20:06:17 +0000's an honor to be featured in the latest episode of WBEZ's Re:Sound about "Kid's Secret Places."  I was swooning with nostalgia in the first ten seconds of the show (and, ahem... singing along).  Thank you WBEZ for sharing the story!  It's an honor to be on the show.

Screen Shot 2013-12-26 at 3.08.06 PM.png

This piece premiered on 

KUOW - Seattle Public RadioNewsErin DavisWed, 18 Dec 2013 16:22:05 +0000 to KUOW Seattle Public Radio for airing a special short cut of the audio documentary about The Land: 'Kids in Europe's "Adventure Playgrounds" Allowed to Take Risks'!

Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 11.18.20 AM.png

Listen to the full version at

editorial assistanceErin DavisThu, 12 Dec 2013 21:51:11 +0000

Dennis keeps a close eye on our progress. 

Empire Drive InNewsErin DavisSun, 03 Nov 2013 00:14:29 +0000 from the film is included in this incredible new installation in New York.  If you're in the area check out Empire Drive In -- it re-uses disposable artifacts from consumer culture for creative and playful gains AKA your can watch movies from the back seat of a junked out Mustang!

During the day audio excerpts from the film will be broadcast through the the once booming, now busted car speakers via low-power radio. I'm thrilled to participate in this whimsical project that breaths new life into forgotten objects.  

 "This isn't junk... this is a story."


Special thanks to the curator of said audio, the talented and inspiring (and backer of this film!) Ann Heppermann for including us.  Now go, go, go if you can and enjoy!


Empire Drive In
BBC ReportNewsErin DavisSat, 02 Nov 2013 23:21:44 +0000 BBC just filed a report about The Land. The headline sums things up nicely, "Junk Playground Inspires US Guests" - indeed!  


Screen shot 2013-11-02 at 4.11.49 PM.png

Thanks to Morgan Leichter-Saxby for pointing out we were named dropped - not bad! 

So thrilled The Land is getting the attention it deserves.  And I can't wait to see what comes of the visit for the US.  

Read the full story here


BBC Report
Featured in New Play Advocacy Booklet from The Alliance for ChildhoodNewsErin DavisWed, 09 Oct 2013 17:07:42 +0000 Almon at The Alliance for Childhood has released a new booklet: Adventure: The Value of Risk in Children's Play.  It includes all the facts and figures you're grasping for when defending risk and play in your community.   

 Adventure: The Value of Risk in Children's Play  

 Adventure: The Value of Risk in Children's Play  

Inside you'll recognize several photos of The Land. The more adults that take an interest in self-directed play, playwork and risk... the smilier my smile gets.  Add it to your library, or give one to your favorite principal...  

Adventure - The Value of Risk in Children's Play By Joan Almon

Have a great week! 

The Library - Who Knew?Erin DavisMon, 07 Oct 2013 14:00:27 +0000 live and work in a lovely college town. And where there are colleges.... there are LIBRARIES. Why didn't I think of this before? 


Just when I thought I'd googled every variation of play, play deprivation, playwork (very few results by the way), playgrounds and "are we all going to rot and become robots for lack of spontaneity, and joie de vivre...?" I found my library.  And oh what a good one it is.  This is just the beginning. 


Listen: Of Kith and KidsErin DavisWed, 04 Sep 2013 15:22:25 +0000 to the incredible folks at  for premiering the new radio story about The Land adventure playground!  The piece inspired some lovely play memories in the comments and is airing locally around the country.  Still looking for our national home!   

Have you listened yet?  Take a break, put on headphones, dim the lights and visit the land yourself.  What makes you feel uncomfortable? What makes you swoon? 


Listen: Of Kith and Kids WS_Darcey_Runs_Pink.JPG ]]>
Watch: Nils NormanVideoErin DavisFri, 02 Aug 2013 00:30:56 +0000 know you're playground obsessed when you spend the morning watching a series of Nils Norman lectures. 

The contrast between what the mainstream provides for children, and what they create when left to their own devices is telling us something. Shouting to us! Listen! Listen!


Quotable: Mihaly CsikszentmihalyiBooksErin DavisThu, 18 Jul 2013 23:21:55 +0000
Enjoyment appears at the boundary between boredom and anxiety, when the challenges are just balanced with the person’s capacity to act.
— Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi ]]>
Reading List: Kith - The Riddle of the ChildscapeBooksErin DavisThu, 27 Jun 2013 14:38:52 +0000 reasonable addition to the library of anyone interested in the ideas of this film: Kith - The Riddle of the Childscape by Jay Griffiths.  


For an abbreviated experience, this is the article that led me to her book: The Politics of Play (Orion magazine March/April 2013). 

Watch: From the ArchiveVideoErin DavisWed, 26 Jun 2013 20:01:37 +0000 playgrounds are not a new idea.  Check out this 70's era short film featuring Lady Allen of Hurtwood, a legend in the adventure play movement. Hear her explain, in her own words and without apology, the 'what' and 'why' of adventure play. 

Perhaps Lady Allen's greatest legacy is expanding adventure play opportunities to children at all levels of ability.  The language in this film is dated, but the ideas still seem ahead of their time.  


Time Lapse TestVideoErin DavisSun, 31 Mar 2013 23:11:42 +0000

We're all drawn to fire, aren't we?  It's warm, magical, turns objects to ash... it sparkles, crackles... is just cool.  (Or, "mint," as I'm learning to say.)   When we were kids, I remember melting candles on the porch for hours on summer afternoons - lighting the wicks and dripping wax onto wooden boards pulled out of the garage.  

Fire play is a common and important element in adventure playgrounds.  Above is a time lapse test from an afternoon at the fire pit - a hypnotic and beautiful bit of space on The Land.  

Watch: "Fortraits"VideoErin DavisFri, 29 Mar 2013 07:46:04 +0000 nearly fainted when I saw this delightful 1 minute film at the True/False documentary film festival.  Such whimsy and wonder inspired by the possibilities provided by an adventure playground.

Fortrait #3: "Adventure Fort"

"Adventure Fort" was part 3 of a 4-part series of "fortraits" by Encyclopedia Pictura.  Here are the others. They are a delight. 

Fortrait #1 "Driftwood Cabin"

Fortrait #2: "Camping Rafts"

Fortrait #4: Subterranean Breakfast Nook

Don't they make you want to look around? Pick up a stick? Tie it to another with some grass? Stack rocks? Paint? Draw?  Look to the sky? To try something silly?  Delight in creating?  Yes. Yes, they do.  Me too. 

I wonder what a playworker might say about the play drive here - that feeling that the films trigger inside of us.  If I had to guess, based on what I've learned from them all so far, I might say that these films give us permission to play.  And permission, it seems, is sometimes all it takes. 

Watch: "Fortraits"
Action!Erin DavisWed, 27 Mar 2013 08:46:30 +0000 we're rolling!

snowball fight

snowball fight

adult supervision

adult supervision

This was not here yesterday. 

This was not here yesterday. 

The playground doors are open and things are going great. Every day is new, a surprise - for everyone at the site - always!  xxo 

One More Time With Feeling!Erin DavisMon, 25 Mar 2013 22:42:51 +0000 to make the point so we can move on to more exciting things - this snow was really a surprise.  The most snow in anyone's memory here - almost 24 inches in 48 hours.  The day we arrived/the next morning:


More evidence.  Everyone was snowed in.  We couldn't get off of our lane.   Playworkers couldn't get to work and the playground was closed.   

image (3).jpg
image (4).jpg

Stranded in the lovely village of Caergwrle (pronounced Kai-GIRL-ly) we walked to the local sledding hill.  Some friendly sledders lent us their best board and luckily we had a GoPro.  They'd built quite a ramp (Thanks, "Pigeon" and company!)

- please be advised this video contains strong language due to sledding induced fear.

And they're off!

And they're off!

The friendly gentlemen who lent us their sled!

The friendly gentlemen who lent us their sled!

More soon, all. xxo 

One More Time With Feeling!
Snow DayErin DavisFri, 22 Mar 2013 23:19:29 +0000 IT SNOWED!  

This makes for a beautiful LANDscape.  But sadly for us, the playground was closed to kids for the day and the crew was snowed in at the apartment - with heavy branches fallen all down the drive.   It did make for a great opportunity to interview our gracious and friendly hosts here about their own risky childhood memories.  Hearing stories like these, from the woods, the junkyards, the fields played in years ago, is one of the great pleasures and privileges of making this film. 

Also, have you read this?   Prepare yourself - you may be compelled to shout "amen" from the rooftops. 

We've dug ourselves out and are tucking in for the night.  To be continued! xoxo

photo by Claire Griffiths

photo by Claire Griffiths

Arrived!Erin DavisThu, 21 Mar 2013 22:34:00 +0000 everyone, we have arrived in the UK!  I stepped out of the airport to cool temps and a bright sun - it was a beautiful day to fly in and drive through the countryside, passing several sheep farms and lovely rolling hills. 

The temps have since dropped and the crew and I are expecting snow overnight.  We're not sure yet if the playground will be closed tomorrow due to the weather but Claire and I are in touch and all of our fingers are crossed!  Here's hoping for an epic snowball fight on the first day of shooting for The Land

Thanks all, more soon!

VOX - Dave & The Darker Side of PlayErin DavisSun, 17 Feb 2013 15:13:00 +0000

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.

VOX - Dave & The Darker Side of PlayErin Davisno
VOX - Claire & The Starting PointErin DavisSun, 17 Feb 2013 14:22:32 +0000

Claire Griffiths runs the "The Land" Adventure Playground. She grew up in Plas Madoc, the neighborhood surrounding the play-site, and as a child played on the plot where "The Land" now lives. Her daughter, Darcey, is a regular now as well (you'll recognize Darcey as the girl in the opening shot of the trailer playing with fire). 

For our interview, I asked Claire where she'd like to sit.  I suggested the picnic table, maybe on the bridge... we looked around and Claire came to this lovely spot, under a tree, right in the grass unaware of the swinging hammock full of children just over her shoulder.  The playground is grafittied with tributes to her from the children.  Even her boots are scrawled with "I love Claire!" from a playground attendee. 

I asked Claire, what does she see when she looks around the play site?  "Possibilities," she answered.  Please take one minute to hear more from Claire below about play, playwork, and the starting point.

VOX - Claire & The Starting PointErin Davisno
From The New YorkerErin DavisThu, 14 Feb 2013 01:21:09 +0000've always been intrigued by this New Yorker cover from October 2010 and look at it often. It reads like a documentary illustration.  Such an interesting point of view... up in the corner, the perspective of a fly on the wall.  

New Yorker cover, October 2010

New Yorker cover, October 2010

If you look closely, the magazine is speckled with observations of the experience of being a child.  Here are just a few. 

The New Yorker Cover, August 1940
The New Yorker Cover, August 1940 The New Yorker Cover, September 2010
The New Yorker Cover, September 2010 New Yorker cartoon, date unknown
New Yorker cartoon, date unknown ]]>
First Press!Erin DavisTue, 12 Feb 2013 17:48:01 +0000, that's us!  Our first bit of news in the newsletter for AVOW.  Thanks! 

Kickstarter SuccessErin DavisTue, 12 Feb 2013 17:45:40 +0000!  We reached our Kickstarter goal on January 8th, 2013 - one year to the day after The Land opened its doors to the children of Plas Madoc.  WIth the time remaining in the campaign, we raised an additional $3,631 - totaling over $13,000 for the shoot.  Donations ranged from $1 to over $1,000 and came from several continents. Thank you to ALL of our generous backers!


Take a closer look at the whole campaign here