Speaking of Washington Square Park, I want to call attention to the children’s hills in the south west corner. Everyone agrees kids benefit from playing in nature, like in woods, on trees, in rivers and oceans, and on grassy spaces.
Notice anything wrong with this picture of that space?
The kids look like they’re having fun. The trees look like trees. Does the grass look a little too green? Does it end a little too suddenly in the foreground? How do they mow it around the poles and keep the hills?
You probably can tell the green ground covering is plastic designed to look like grass. Kids benefit from nature. Plastic is not nature.
Well, what do we do in a big city without enough space? Make that space grass and it will die quickly. I don’t blame the park person who decided on plastic. I question our cultural values. When we put too many kids in one area for nature to serve, instead of lowering the population density or converting dead buildings to living space for kids, we cover the ground with plastic that looks like grass. Plastic is poisonous in its manufacture and degradation. It’s not healthy.
The situation isn’t unique to Washington Square Park, New York, or the United States. I expect most people reading these words have seen green plastic used to fool people into confusing it with living plants. What are we teaching our kids? What are we doing to their health? What are we doing to ourselves and our health?
What would it take to ensure kids and adults experienced nature, not plastic trying to trick us into thinking it’s nature? If we accept this plastic as nature, what will we accept next? How much have we accepted already that we don’t notice?
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