The Kiddy Pool: Loving Nature and Our Neighbors

Every week in The Kiddy Pool, Erin Newcomb confronts one of many issues that parents must deal with related to popular culture.

Our local library is developing a new outdoor playspace for children; their goal is to integrate the design of the play space into the natural landscape. It’s already one of my daughter’s favorite places to play indoors (thanks to a lot of books and a delightful children’s librarian); outdoors, there’s a duck pond surrounded by sloping hills, a flowerbed, and a small foot-bridge. Neither our town nor our library is particularly large nor wealthy (though the library does have a modern, newish building funded by an endowment), but this project represents a lot of things that I hope to see trending soon: natural play and community renewal.

As much as we love our local library, it’s not the first place I think of for outdoor play. There are a couple of playgrounds within easy walking distance, but we also live in an area filled with creeks, beaches, and forests. My daughter loves to hike (which usually involves her running out on the trail and me carrying her all the way back), throw rocks in the river, examine the leaves, collect pinecones, and admire the occassional bold creature. She is free to run and play in God’s creation, to watch the sun set and the moon rise over the river. Because of the natural beauty our area affords, my daughter is growing up to revel in the beauty of all that God makes.

I love that lesson, especially combined with the efforts of our library to make that a communal experience. In an economic downturn, it seems that public spaces (and libraries) continue to lose funding, and yet these places have perhaps the most to offer struggling communities. Two are better than one, and pooling community resources offers not only the joy of fellowship but also opportunities that are simply not available for many individuals or families anymore. As much as I understand the trials many people are facing right now, I’m excited by the opportunities our library is providing to get outdoors, get together, and rediscover the beauty of God’s creation in nature and our neighbors.

About Erin Wyble Newcomb

Erin Wyble Newcomb earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction and Women's Studies from Penn State University. In addition to parenting her daughters, running marathons, and making things with glitter, she teaches in the English Department at SUNY New Paltz. Follow Erin on Twitter @ErinWyble or at