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Cover, September LASN


Whimsical, Artistic, but Not up to Code

I am writing to comment on your beautiful cover photo of a whimsical play structure created by Barbara Butler (September 2003). In a magazine that so frequently focuses our profession on the importance of developing safe playgrounds for our clients and communities, I found it ironic that the play structure you chose to highlight does not meet a number of significant safety guidelines.

The most obvious breach of safety considerations includes the excessive spacing between the guardrail pickets and the absence of fall-absorbing materials under the fire pole. I am assuming that this structure is on private property and is therefore not required to meet the same standards as public playgrounds, but your "About the cover" caption on page 10 notes that Ms. Butler's "artistic play structures...make a family backyard a safe haven...." Your magazine could show more diligence in assuring that your content and your visual messages are in sync.

Billy Goodnick
Landscape Architect/Project Coordinator
City of Santa Barbara
Parks & Recreation Department

"Zero Risk" Mind Set

About your article in LASN, "The Challenging Playground" (Sept. 2003), a few quotes follow that I am sure you are familiar with.

H. L. Mencken defines "Presbyterianism as: "The overwhelming fear that someone, somewhere is having a good time."

Tocqueville, touring the United States in 1830, predicted in his book Democracy in America that America would become a dictatorship of the petty bureaucrat.These two groups have found each other. If Tocqueville could come back and factor in lawyers, he would have the making of another book:

The Decline and Fall ...! If I were king, there would be a bounty on lawyers.

I believe strongly that caution is a learned, taught thing. I did some work for a well off guy in New Jersey. I was having coffee in the kitchen and about to leave. His 13 year old boy admired my Swiss army knife, and so I gave it to him. His mother shrieked, "He's not allowed anything sharp!" You and I know this kid will be given a car when he is 17, and he won't even know that he can bleed, let alone hurt.

Oh, to be a boy again. And to go down to the Railway Express Agency and pick up your crate of fireworks--the real thing. What did I learn from them? Don't hold a firecracker in your fingers too long--it hurts, but you learn to treat fireworks with respect.

Mark Twain, at a time when a firework was a quarter stick of dynamite, observed: "We should have two fourths of July; we will get rid of all our fools that way." The "zero risk" mind set that removes all hazards of life to protect the fools will create a nation of fools. We are half way there.

Am I glad I'm an old man? You bet! There are so many things wrong with the country today; zero risk is only one of many. I fear for what the country is becoming. I can hardly wait to get to heaven and get myself another crate of fireworks.

John Rogers
Manufacturing Contractor
Bolton, Massachusetts



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Quote Board

"Today, after a century of extraordinary discoveries in biology, such as evolution and the role of DNA, and cosmology, the birth if not origin of the universe, this means that there are new subjects for garden art and a new view of nature that might be presented." – Charles Jencks, architect, critic, designer, from his book The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, the namesake of the 30 acre garden he created in Scotland, one of the most original gardens of the 21 century.



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