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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Have Columbia's Tot Lots outlived their usefullness?

After reading the news story this morning in the Columbia Patch on CA eliminating some tot lots it got me thinking of how our changing demographics are impacting aspects of our community that have long defined our community. Tot lots and neighborhood pools were attributes that attracted many of us to this community as a place to raise a family. I remember our kids asking my grandmother in Pennsylvania where her "tot lot" was when we were visiting. Which caused my grandmother to ask "What is a tot lot?" My Columbia-raised kids thought that all communities had tot lots.
It now seems that something that was designed for young children has now become a teen hangout in some neighborhoods. I too have observed some of that on warm summer nights in the tot lot behind our house. Maybe it is time to rethink the concept of the tot lot to reflect the changing demographics. How about changing some of the tot lots in areas with few young children into exercise stations like what you see going around Lake Elkhorn? Or areas for neighbor hoods to plant small community vegetable or flower gardens. Have neighborhoods have competitions for the best gardens. Maybe CA should get some new ideas for what replaces tot lots. Maybe just turning them into regular open space is a lost opportunity to develop a new community resource. Anyone have some suggestions for new usages for the tot lots?


Lisa said...

Some tot lot sites would be good for reforestation, some could be converted to basketball courts, some might be good for additional community garden plots. Exercise stations sound good, and perhaps some sites would be good for added skateboarding?

Picnic tables and chess boards? Meditation gardens? Elements of all of these? Could the sites close to schools or other facilities that really aren't being used by tots be converted to rain gardens or other educational sites? I'm sure there are many ideas out there for outdoor classrooms. Maybe some could become new "old" sites, with terraces or stone "ruins" that create a kind of seating area. It could be used as a neighborhood meeting place, an outdoor classroom, a quiet place to read or watch birds, with room for flowers. It could be place that inspires the imagination, that has a little element of wonder to it.

I love that the villages are engaging with their residents about it. That's the way to go.

duanestclair said...

Very interesting and creative ideas for reuse of tot lots. Maybe good for CA to engage the community in these discussions.

Mediaprophet said...

Hey, plenty of us have young children. I don't think I've ever seen anyone use those exercise lots at Lake Elkhorn. But go to the tot lot at the lake during the day on a warm weekday, and you'll see it thronging with tykes.

duanestclair said...

The tot lot that you describe may be the model that CA should look to in the future. It is in a popular spot and has a nice mix of things for kids to play on.

Jessie "The Engager" X said...

Hi all, I'm watching the comments from the CA side of things, so keep the comments coming. They are being heard! Make sure you stay in touch with your village centers, too, regarding your thoughts, as these decisions are being made on the hyper-hyper local level.

Kudos to you, Duane, for stepping up so nobly and wonderfully into the world of community blogging!

PS - You think tot lots are something to talk about with demographic changes. Hah! That's peanuts compared to the pools. Check this out ... and I hope to see (especially, though not exclusively) lots of young leaders in the community stepping forward to learn more and participate in the conversation.

duanestclair said...

I will try to come to the Hawthorne meeting.