September 12, 2009 - 2:47pm
This is the final part in a series looking at the newly-renovated playground in Cambridge Common and examining the concerns of parents and caregivers, particularly those with children in the "tot" age range that the former playground served.
All right, so I’ve got a few issues and reservations about the renovated playground at the Cambridge Common. I’ve definitely made that clear.
But it’s also important to take a step back and look at what’s nice about the park.
Creativity and innovation is admirable. It’s nice to see a playground that tries to depart from the standard plastic sides and climbing structures.
An emphasis on imaginative and interactive play is what we need in an era where a segment of the population believes playing Wii Fit is good physical activity.
The new playground has a garden element, making it feel (when it’s not too crowded) like a relaxing respite from urban life.
It encourages children to interact with each other and encompasses features that the previous park didn’t.
It’s more wheelchair friendly – from the merry-go-round to the handicap-accessible swing.
It encourages climbing, running and playing – all the basic things a park designed for...
September 11, 2009 - 1:44pm
This is the fourth part in a series looking at the newly-renovated playground in Cambridge Common and examining the concerns of parents and caregivers, particularly those with children in the "tot" age range that the former playground served.
I’ve addressed several issues with the new playground in the first three parts of this series. However, the points I've raised were more or less inconveniences.
Today’s post takes a look at two aspects of the park that are really safety concerns.
Part of the inspiring creativity component is an extensive set of wooden blocks. The idea behind the blocks, per the planning presentation materials, is to “for kids to be able to work in small groups or individually to create their own structures and play experiences.”
That sounds great. Until, of course, you see the blocks – which are basically 2x4s, large wooden bricks and long, thin wooden cylinders several feet long.
One mother told me how she saw a little girl about 4 get whacked in the head with a large wooden brick. Needless to say, there was a fair amount of crying. On more than one occasion, I saw children throwing the blocks. It wasn’t in an intentional way, but just carelessly...
September 10, 2009 - 1:04pm
This is the third part in a series looking at the newly-renovated playground in Cambridge Common and examining the concerns of parents and caregivers, particularly those with children in the "tot" age range that the former playground served.
A major feature of the renovated Kemp Playground is its aesthetic and open design. That’s what sets it apart from a number of other parks.
But upon experiencing the playground, it dawns on you, maybe there’s a reason that all the other parks have those features.
As a friend of mine said, “The park looking pretty is mostly for the parents. Anyone who knows kids knows that usually the less attractive or dirtier things are, the more enticing they are for small children.”
Yesterday, I touched on the challenges of having such a large age range at the Kemp Playground. The troubling part is that many of those problems could have been easily avoided with a better design and layout.
Young children and older children play very differently. This is why many area parks, such as Raymond Park and Alden Park, separate toddler-specific structures from structures designed for grammar-school age children. When they are distinct areas...
September 9, 2009 - 1:50am
This is the second part in a series looking at the newly-renovated playground in Cambridge Common and examining the concerns of parents and caregivers, particularly those with children in the "tot" age range that the former playground served.
The previous Kemp Playground was considered a “tot lot,” designed for children 1 through 5.
The renovation proposal made available to the public stated, “[The new] playground will continue to primarily serve younger children, while including some things that can appeal to kids of all ages.”
I actually went last fall when they had the plans on display, and nothing led me to believe that the demographic of the park would be significantly altered in the renovation.
The new playground is designated for use by children 2-12, raising a number of issues and challenges.
While the plans stated that the park would continue to primarily serve younger children, the renovation actually excludes 20 percent of the initial 1-5 age range.
No one is suggesting that the age-range had to be capped at 5, but having a 10-year age range seems to exclude children in the lower end of that age range – the exact children that were supposed to be “primarily...
September 8, 2009 - 10:53am
This is the first part in a series looking at the newly-renovated playground in Cambridge Common and examining the concerns of parents and caregivers, particularly those with children in the "tot" age range that the former playground served.
For a number of local parents, the re-opening of the Alexander Kemp Playground last week capped a summer of anticipation with disappointment.
As I live closest to the Common out of my group of friends, I was regularly asked all summer as to whether the park had opened.
“Not yet,” I’d say and give the latest update.
“It looks like it’s going to be really fun,” one of us would say.
Then last week, it happened – the park opened.
And, after months of talking about how fun the park “looked,” I learned that the appearance might be the main redeeming quality of the renovated tot lot – which is no longer a tot lot at all. (And I’ll get to that tomorrow.)
“It looks like it should be an installation at the Children’s Museum,” a friend of mine said as we tried to enjoy the park with our toddlers.
The park is beautiful. It’s something you almost expect to be charged to use. The natural color scheme, the landscaping, the white sand, the creative...
September 6, 2009 - 9:45pm
This week marked the re-opening of the Alexander Kemp Playground in the Cambridge Common.
Work continues to complete landscaping and fencing. The larger perimeter fence put up doing construction is still up, but is slated to be removed in the near future.
The re-opening comes almost nine months after construction began.
The park contains an extensive amount of features including:
- Two slide structures (one intended for older children, one for toddlers)
- Swings (standard swings, infants swings, a handicap-accessible swing and tandem swing)
- A water table
- A shower sprinkler
- A "pirate ship" play structure
- Landscaped area with a table
- A seesaw
- A sand play area
August 19, 2009 - 12:27am
And that’s a wrap. The Cambridge Arts Council’s ‘Summer in the City’ calendar concludes this week with free films on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Magnificent Seven will be shown at Raymond Park on Wednesday night.
On Thursday evening, E.T. will be screened in Inman Square.
The official start time for both events is 6:30 p.m, with the films slated to begin at dusk (roughly 8 p.m.). Each event will also feature pre-movie family-friendly entertainment.
The screenings cap off the summer-long, 15-event arts endeavor put on by the organization in association with a number of partner sponsors.
“The purpose of ‘Summer in the City’ is to bring arts to the community, particularly to underserved populations,” CAC’s director of community arts Julie Madden said. “We work to provide art that is our goal informative, educational and culturally diverse to community members.”
An emphasis of cultural diversity is one of foundations of the Art Council’s work, Madden said. The series has included musical, dance, film, visual and performing art events at parks throughout Cambridge.
“We want to nurture the arts in Cambridge,” Madden said of the Cambridge Arts Council. “Our mission is to bring...
July 24, 2009 - 10:29am
While initial plans for the Alexander W. Kemp Playground renovation– proposed and ratified last summer – projected a June completion date, it’s clear that work has fallen behind.
Earlier this summer, the park’s reopening was tentatively pushed back to early July, operating under the assumption that the renovations – or in this case, complete overhaul – would be finished by the end of June.
On its Web site, the City of Cambridge now estimates construction to be completed by the end of July or early August, citing “inclement weather and other issues, such as the installation and completion of some of the playground equipment" as taking more time than anticipated.
While the project has been a minor inconvenience to area families hoping to use the play structure, its clear that progress is being made. However, given the continuing rain and the current status of the construction project, even the revised timeline seems optimistic.
June 19, 2009 - 12:39pm
Given the current weather, it’s fitting that the group Sol y Canto (Sun and Song) is headlining the New School of Music’s Family Festival on Saturday.
And, rain or shine, the music will go on.
The event runs from noon to 3:30 p.m. and, weather permitting, will take place in the Lowell School Park (on Lowell Street and Mount Auburn – directly across from Mount Auburn Hospital). While the rain is expected to hold off until evening, in the case of a downpour, the event will be moved inside the New School at 25 Lowell Street.
The festival will feature free child-friendly activities including face painting, games and other performances – highlighted by Marafanyi Drum, Dance & Song: From the Heart in Poetic Motion – as well as food and drinks. There will also be a musical instrument “petting zoo” where children can try out various instruments.
However, tickets are required for the Sol y Canto performance.
Sol y Canto will go on at 1 p.m. with the Marafanyi performance scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
More information on the Family Festival can be found on the New School of Music’s Web site.
For those unfamiliar with the New School of Music, the non-profit music school offers classes...
May 18, 2009 - 12:57am
A three-alarm fire destroyed the Mormon Church on Brattle Street in just hours Sunday.
The fire started in the attic and swept through the building. Both firefighters and churchgoers said no one was injured in the blaze. Church was in service when the fire alarm went off around 10:30 a.m.
Firefighters were on the scene for over eight hours – with trucks finally pulling out around 7 p.m. – putting out the fire and then making sure it did not reignite.
From the outside, the building appeared to be gutted. The entire roof of the church was gone, numerous windows were broken and smoldering debris could be seen inside the church and on the outside steps. The steeple, however, remained standing, although clearly damaged.
The cause of the fire is not yet known. An investigation is expected to take about a week, but the initial reports were the fire was not suspicious.
The mood was somber, but congregation members were also grateful, expressing their appreciation for the emergency workers’ efforts and their relief that “no one was injured.”