Good News: A Report on a Report

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Is the glass half empty or half full?  I was struck by that eternal question when I read the ClaimStat Alert report that the New York City Comptroller Office issued in March. The subtitle, “Protecting Kids on NYC Playgrounds,” does not immediately explain that this is a compilation of personal injury claims brought against the city during the period 2005 to 2014. It covers all of NYC’s almost 1000 playgrounds.The New York Post immediately made a half empty assessment in its coverage of the release of the report. Their headline screamed “City shells out $20M over kids’ playground injuries.”

I suggest that there can be a totally different conclusion from the same data, effectively the half full approach.  I believe that this is a remarkable document, one that dispels many concerns about liability held by those who commission or design playgrounds. It also shows the shallowness of arguments that urge tort reform as a prerequisite for flourishing of innovative playground design.

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How Strange are our Dangers? How Dangerous are Strangers?

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I have vivid memories of the trip my husband (who is also my trusted photographer) and I made to the Princess Diana Playground in Hyde Park, London. The playground opened in 2000 and we made our way there in 2004.  It was a bleak, bitterly cold December morning, just after the opening hour.  There were no children anywhere.  We walked up to a high gate and heard from an anonymous voice (with hindsight, the camera and speaker system were stunningly advanced for a decade ago) that we could not enter without a child.

The faceless gate did not want to hear that I had a contract to write a book about playgrounds and that this was a professional visit.  No kids meant no access.  I was that told that somewhere- quite far away-I could appeal the judgment but we were actually headed to the airport.  We settled for walking around the perimeter; my spouse took copious photos by placing his close up lens through the bars of the fence.

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