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Dufferin Grove playground blog (by Jutta)

May 30, 2016

The Monday of the long-weekend was sunny, high of 25. There were some spare two-by-fours in the storage shed, and 15 minutes after we brought them down, they were in use. Different stuctures rose up all day long.


bridges over rivers

lean-to over a dug-out basement

giant log over a rushing river

Having more building materials seems central to the kids' enjoyment of the playground. But finding the materials is tricky. Storing them is also tricky. We're working on it.

June 30, 2016

Today was the first day when the wading pool had water in it and it was the market day as well. The weather was nice and there were probably between 200 - 300 people at the playground and another 400 - 500 people in total who came to the market. Yesterday there was a staff meeting at which it was decided -- so I was told by various people -- that staff would take turns at regular intervals all day long sorting at the adventure playground sandpit and moving the hoses for tree watering, since the drought is getting worse and more trees are showing stress. But at 9 pm there was chaos. Apparently two staff either didn't show or had cancelled their shifts without the other staff knowing. So the sandpit was a mess, there were leaky hoses in a big tangle by the volleyball court, no one knew whose job it was to put away the umbrellas in the sitting area, no one had put away the cob area stools for the night. The hoses that were still out -- to water the trees near the basketball court -- had no water coming out of them, but no one had noticed. One of the older staff was racing to get cleaning done in the garage while three of the younger staff were chatting in the office. And so on.

One of the younger staff came to help another staff person at the adventure playground, apparently as a favour. I untangled four hoses and put them on the fence posts for tomorrow.

Last night I was at the park until 10.30, today until 10. We'll see how it goes from here. There's only a partial work plan, no supervision. Welcome to the first day of summer.



July 9, 2016

The food at the playground has come a long way. At the beginning it was Fernando, the ice cream man with his illegal cart full of good things. Then came our Guatemalan friend Isabel cooking tortillas over the campfire. Then Isabel brought along her daughters and they offered salads and tamales. Then it was some keen cooks among the staff who brought down sandwiches and salads and park bread and the inevitable park chocolate chip cookies. When the cob cafe was built by all those little and big hands, and there was a way to heat food, organic hot dogs were added, and after a while, more salads, mac and cheese, and -- on the weekends -- leftovers from Friday Night Supper. The food was good and popular and sometimes it was hard for staff to keep up with the demand. But there were always slower times. Always, during those years, the food counter was also a place for socializing, for people to meet one another and staff to get to know people.

After the city took away the staff's ability to structure the work collaboratively, and many of the original staff left, the cafe actually rose in its profile for the new staff. "Food service" is something many of the current staff feel they understand. The ones who serve at the counter sometimes look like they could just as easily be working at MacDonald's. There's not a lot of social connection between server and served. The staff say, "Can I help the next person?" and that's about it. The main difference between Tim Horton's and the park is that at the park the staff often have to say they're sorry, because they frequently run out of food and then it takes a long time (or never) to get more prepared at the zamboni kitchen.

July 10, 2016

wading pool mess clogs up the playground shed

Another hot, rainless day. The wading pool routine has improved to the point where the water temperature is actually bearable for grown-ups -- since the water is only replaced by half once a day instead of three times as formerly. The new storage box(es) for wading pool equipment have not arrived yet, so the inside of the playground storage shed is a mess. But hopefully the boxes are on their way.

The staff are cleaning up the adventure playground area pretty reliably now, although there is still no sense that any staff are engaged with the playground or wonder how to build on what's there. We got another two picnic tables moved down to the area, since there really have not been enough places for people to sit. The latest tables were delivered for a Saturday clothing drop or something like that, sponsored by the city councillor. The parks supervisor said we could keep those tables on loan until they're needed at another event. I guess then they'll take them away and once again there will be not enough places to sit. Really. But for now, it works much better.

The water meeting last Friday never got to a place where water conservation could get on the agenda, because the tech services staff said the city wants to get rid of wading pools and replace them with splash pads.

July 16, 2017

playground shed, too full

The director's office writes that the box is "on order" (our first request was on May 13). Until it comes, there will be limited adventure playground programming, only on Tuesdays and Thursdays. After the box arrives and the play materials are accessible, some of the former fun will be added for most other days too -- dress-up, cloths for tipi-building, clay sculpture, beading, board games.


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