About the Project
I started documenting Chicago Park playgrounds in 2021. There are many overlapping reasons why I am interested in this project. Here are a few:
- I enjoy exploring different neighborhoods and parks with my own family and friends and I wanted a place to record these trips.
- There are hundreds of guides to coffee shops and restaurants in Chicago but a much smaller set of reviews and resources for free and public institutions like Chicago Park playgrounds. So I'm attempting to fill a void by providing access to this information.
- During the day, I work as an archivist and therefore have a natural inclination toward organizing and describing resources and helping people get iinformation. This personal project has helped me develop skills in web design and the concept of linked data.
I hope that this information on this site is helpful. I have tried to be objective and civically minded at each point in this project.
Objectivity and Bias
In all of my descriptions and reviews, I've tried to be both positive and objective. I strive to be positive for a few reasons but mainly because nearly all Chicago Park playgrounds show signs of some use. And it's not helpful to have someone from outside the community come in and say "this playground is bad." That isn't to say that all playgrounds are equally good (they clearly are not) or that there isn't systemic inequality (there clearly is.) But I hope this site provides information that does not increase inequality, that is helpful, and that is as objective as possible.
However, despite my attempts at objectivity, my personal experiences, definitions, and values will inevitability influence how I view the world and therefore describe playgrounds. A few examples:
- I call this bit of equipment "steppers" because my children are old enough to step on them and can do so. I once heard a parent of a younger child call them a "drum" because that's how their child was using them. If my child used a wheelchair, I'm not sure what I would call them.
- I call this category of equipment "slides" but have learned over the course of this project that some people call these same things "sliding boards."
So my descriptions of playgrounds reflect my experience with age, ability, and culture. In the end, I am a cis-gendered, heterosexual, able-bodied, white male with two young kids. I'm sharing this bit of biography because - despite my efforts to the contrary - these details will inevitably influence how I describe and review playgrounds and parks.
Photographs and Privacy
I'm trying to photograph as many playgrounds and as much playground equipment as possible because I think that will greatly improve the site. However - for a variety of very obvious reasons - I'm never going to include images of children on this site. This is a major creative constraint of this project - it also explains why some photographs are taken on cloudy or rainy days.
Ads and Affiliations
I'm not selling anything. This is a project related to my passion for free things in Chicago and it would be antithetical to that vision to monetize this site. So there are no ads, no sponsored links, and no brand partnerships. I'm also not tracking visitors on this site.
This site is not in any way affiliated with the Chicago Park District, the City of Chicago, or any manufacturer of playground equipment. I generally love the Chicago Park District (and the Chicago Public Library...and Chicago-style hot dogs) but want this project to remain independent and objective.
Started in 2021, this project will likely always be a work in progress. Here are some pages that I'm using to track things I'd like to do.