playgrown was one of three finalists for Southwest Michigan regional social justice leadership award
Applicants for the award submitted 8-10 minute videos and were chosen from a field of 188 entries that spanned 23 nations and 25 states within the US. Fifty-one jurors consisting of Kalamazoo College faculty, staff and students along with regional, national and global social justice leaders evaluated each entry; all applications were reviewed by two jurors.
With a Changemakers grant, in 2010, playgrown founder, Michelle S. Johnson brought people together for Parkhops across gender, sexuality, race, ethnicities, and physical abilities to play at four parks in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The project built community within already established groups and extended to new people or those who were only on the periphery. Participants reported the value of relinquishing social postures to adapt new situations and noted that when we played together people saw each other as playmates rather than solely as a teenager, adult, stranger, familiar or senior. We often ended up playing with youth who were intrigued by us and wanted to play. Parkhop broke down boundaries and extended beyond intended community. The act of opening up the group to new players is, at its core, an issue of access that immediately welcomes people who see something valuable. Since injustice often denies people access to value based on such aspects as physical ability, class, gender, sexuality, race and education, Parkhop began to show that egalitarian play has the power to break down rather than create barriers to just community. While Play groups can sometimes create isolation and stratified groups, in bringing players together across cultural boundaries, the participants moved away from stratification as younger and older people learned from each other.
Johnson & Associates
Institute of Public Scholarship
Economic and Community Development, City of Kalamazoo
Eastside Neighborhood Association
Urban Folk Arts Exploratory
Craig L. Wilkins, Ph.D., AIA
Director, Detroit Community Design Center
Senior Lecturer, Architecture and Urban Planning
C.A.N. Art Handworks
The Body Love Project