Editor's Desk - July 2015
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Drop By, Turn Off, Tune In

The other day as I was finishing up a long bike ride, and trying to beat the thunder home (I just made it), I passed a park not far from my house. Wandering down the trail was a tiny little terrier-type dog. Well, this seemed a little odd—and a lot dangerous, considering my average speed of about 15 miles per hour is among the slower bike speeds on this stretch of trail—so I stopped, climbed out of the saddle and called the little fella over to me. I scooped him up and made my way back to the park to see if maybe that was where he belonged.

When I got there, I found a family out for a picnic. Sort of. Two younger kids were at play on the playground equipment. Mom, dad and two older kids were sitting together around a picnic table, all silent, all engrossed by their various devices.

I wandered up and asked if it was their dog, at which point everyone seemed to think that someone else was keeping an eye on him. So I gently pointed out the dangers of letting such a small dog roam so near a busy bike trail, a 45-mph road, wild animals, leash laws, etc. They listened and nodded, then thanked me very kindly, but went right back to letting the dog wander while they engaged with their iThings. So I just shrugged, got back on my bike and pedaled home just in time to watch the lightning show from the front porch.

We talk a lot in these pages about the importance of building a fitness movement, and how recreation, sports and fitness facilities can help do that. And we also talk quite a bit about the importance of building a sense of community, and how recreation, sports and fitness facilities can help do that, too. But maybe we also need to start trying to figure out ways not just to get people together and to get people moving, but also to get them to turn their devices off and engage with one another and the real world for a change.

In my view, the park and playground, the bike trail, the fitness club, the pool—these are all ideal places to get away from daily stresses. But if you don't turn off the device and engage with your friends, family, neighbors and, yep, maybe even a stranger or two, you're missing out on nine-tenths of the fun!

In this issue, we've got some great examples of how to create places that allow people to engage with one another—from inclusive, natural and themed playgrounds to outdoor fitness zones (also inclusive, by the way). When you have these sorts of amenities in your community, you're giving everyone a chance to realize that there's a world of fun out there that exists outside of the device.

These are the kinds of places where the fun is happening right now. You're already sharing it, so you don't need to "share" it. Everyone present is giving you all the "likes" you need.

I'm curious to know if anyone out there is trying to encourage people to get off their devices yet? I feel like a day hasn't gone by that I haven't scratched my head and wondered at someone's iBehavior. (And I know I'm starting to sound like grandma on the porch shouting at the kids to get off my lawn.)

So, tell me. Are you flummoxed by the same thing? And have you figured out any creative ways to get people to power down their devices and get out into the world again? I'd love to hear about it. And I'll bet I'm not the only one who's looking for this kind of movement to take hold.

Now turn off your phone and go have some fun in the real world this summer! Oh, and get off my lawn!


Emily Tipping
Editorial Director,
Recreation Management