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Asphalt to Ecosystems: Design Ideas for Schoolyard Transformationby Sharon Gamson Danks
Synopses & Reviews
The most comprehensive guide to designing and building creative, ecological schoolyards ever published!
"Asphalt to Ecosystems... convincingly demonstrates how ecologically rich environments can serve the triumvirate of children's play, learning, and education--and the good health of both children and planet. This inspiring book brings together and builds on the work of long time pioneers who share author Sharon Danks' vision. Those pursuing the same mission are offered an exceptionally valuable tool and a new benchmark of design for educating a new eco-literate generation."
—Robin Moore, MCP, Director, The Natural Learning Initiative, North Carolina State University. Co-author, Natural Learning: The Life History of an Environmental Schoolyard
"This is a beautiful book, loaded with compassion for children and deep understanding of the learning process. It is not just a primer on ecological landscaping in the curriculum, but a blueprint for a greener and smarter curriculum."
—David W. Orr, Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics, Oberlin College, author, Ecological Literacy and Hope Is an Imperative
"I have often seen children's sense of wonder awaken as they find life teeming in a handful of soil or nurture a seed into a healthy plant to be harvested and enjoyed in a delicious meal with their classmates. Asphalt to Ecosystems is a wonderful introduction to the design ideas that can transform a traditional schoolyard into a place where such vital learning can occur, under the wise and skillful guidance of the growing movement of educators dedicated to education for sustainable living."
—Zenobia Barlow, Cofounder and Executive Director, The Center for Ecoliteracy
"A groundbreaking and informative book with examples from around the world that will inspire others to create green engaging environments for their children. To educate the next generation of earth stewards we need to immerse them in setting where an ecological viewpoint becomes second nature. Sharon Danks shows us the way."
—Clare Cooper Marcus, Professor Emerita, Departments of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of California, Berkeley. Co-author, Healing Gardens
"Danks' book exemplifies planning's comprehensive approach to design and community engagement. She demonstrates that sustainability goes well beyond green technologies--encompassing the patterns of place and envisioning schools and schoolyards as centers of community."
—Jeffrey L. Soule, FAICP, Director of Outreach and International Programs, American Planning Association
A practical palette for visualizing, designing, and building innovative green schoolyard environments.
Asphalt to Ecosystems is a compelling color guidebook for designing and building natural schoolyard environments that enhance childhood learning and play experiences while providing connection with the natural world. Intended for parents, teachers, school administrators, designers, environmentalists, and community volunteers, this book is a fantastic resource that will inspire readers to transform their own school grounds.
With this book, Danks broadens our notion of what a well-designed schoolyard should be, taking readers on a journey from traditional, ordinary grassy fields and asphalt, to explore the vibrant and growing movement to "green" school grounds in the United States and around the world. This book documents exciting green schoolyard examples from almost 150 schools in 11 countries, illustrating that a great many things are possible on school grounds when they are envisioned as outdoor classrooms for hands-on learning and play. The book's 500 vivid, color photographs showcase some of the world's most innovative green schoolyards including: edible gardens with fruit trees, vegetables, chickens, honey bees, and outdoor cooking facilities; wildlife habitats with prairie grasses and ponds, or forest and desert ecosystems; schoolyard watershed models, rainwater catchment systems and waste-water treatment wetlands; renewable energy systems that power landscape features, or the whole school; waste-as-a-resource projects that give new life to old materials in beautiful ways; K-12 curriculum connections for a wide range of disciplines from science and math to art and social studies; creative play opportunities that diversify school ground recreational options and encourage children to run, hop, skip, jump, balance, slide, and twirl, as well as explore the natural world first hand.
Sharon Gamson Danks is an environmental planner and founding partner of Bay Tree Design in Berkeley, California. As a researcher, writer, and hands-on designer and planner, she has visited and documented over 200 green schoolyard and park projects in North America, Europe, Great Britain, and Japan and has helped over three dozen schools transform their grounds into vibrant ecosystems for learning and play.
An inspiring palette of school grounds possibilities for parents, teachers, students, designers, planners, and school administrators.
Author Sharon Danks broadens our notion of what a well-designed schoolyard should be, taking readers on a journey from traditional, ordinary grassy fields and asphalt to explore what's being created in the growing movement toward "green" schoolgrounds in the United States and around the world. This book documents exciting examples from more than 150 schools in 11 countries, illustrating a vast range of possibilities in outdoor classrooms for learning and play.
More than 500 vivid color photographs showcase some of the world's most innovative green schoolyards including: edible gardens with fruit trees, vegetables, chickens, honeybees, and outdoor cooking facilities; wildlife habitats with prairie grasses and ponds, or forest and desert ecosystems; schoolyard watershed models, rainwater catchment systems, and waste-water treatment models,; renewable energy systems that power landscape features or the whole school; waste-as-a-resource projects that give new life to old materials in beautiful ways; K-12 curriculum connections for a wide range of disciplines from science and math to art and social studies; creative play opportunities that diversify school ground recreational options and encourage children to explore the natural world firsthand.
The book grounds these examples in a practical framework that illustrates simple landscape design choices all schools can use to make their schoolyards more comfortable, enjoyable, and sustainable. And it describes a participatory design process that schools can use to engage their communities in transforming asphalt to ecosystems.
About the Author
Environmental consultant focusing on ecological design, edible landscapes; children's play environments, and public participation in planning. Danks has documented over 150 green schoolyards, been adviser for 15 schoolyard transformation plans, writes for Landscape Architecture Magazine, co-author of the Green Schoolyard Resource Directory, co-designer of national ecological schoolyard exhibit on urban sustainability at US Botanic Garden, Washington DC.
What Our Readers Are Saying