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Mindful : August 2018
A Playground for All of Us Every successful city must have pro- tective systems to secure itself in the competitive, aggressive world we live in. To thrive, however, cities must also grow their capacity for compassion. Compas- sion harmonizes humans and nature in a framework that gives meaning to human activities, and it provides the will to imagine and create a better future for all. Interweaving protection and compas- sion, cities can replace the concept of “stronger” with “better able to adapt.” Jane Chermayeff spent much of her life advising children’s museums and planning science playgrounds. She often said that if you want to make a great city, design it to work for children. For example, a city that really worked for children would be one in which its children would live in safety. That would require safe streets, with protected areas for children to walk and bike to school and around their neighborhoods. It would mean that no child would live in fear of being shot by a stray bullet. Its children would be free from the threat of drugs, domestic violence, abuse, neglect, or other adverse childhood experiences. To achieve that, the city would need ample affordable housing, health care, and social services, and it would need to root out the epigenetic effects of endemic poverty. For every child to have an equal oppor tunity to thrive, a city would need an exemplary education system, with modern, green, light-filled schools within walking distance of home—every school providing a superb education, no matter the income level of its neighborhood residents. Its teachers would receive respectable wages, lifelong training, and they too would live in safe, comfor table homes with sufficient child care and sup- port for their families. In order for children to thrive, their families must thrive. Such a city would need to be a cauldron of opportunity for all—the immigrant, the inventor, the coder, and the cardiologist—so that each could reach her fullest potential. A city can accomplish these goals only if it is fiscally sound, so it would need an equi- table tax system sufficient to meet its needs. As we begin to follow the threads in the fabric of a city dedicated to the well-being of children, it becomes clear that to succeed, the city must dedicate itself to the well-being of all. And what if we added the health of nature to the city’s purpose—inspir- ing it to restore the wetlands at its water’s edges, and weave nature into 68 mindful August 2018