Climbing hills is always a great adventure and a part of a playscape.


Miller Ecological Park Plans for a safe, "natural" playground area filled with open spaces, trees, logs, stumps, rocks, hills, water, flower gardens and bushes...where children would be free to roam and enjoy and create as a part of their daily life... are moving along. A good book to read that explains why this kind of park is so important to our children Richard Louy's, Last Child in the Woods. It is available at the Lebanon Public Library.

Janie Davis, member of the Parks and Recreation Board, Trustee of Miller Ecological Park, and Member of the Steering Committee of the Friends of Miller Ecological Park is speer-heading this project. You may contact her with suggestions and questions.

The Miller Ecological Park Fund is providing the funds necessary for the City to hire a landscape architect to develop a design for the Playscape and Children's Discover Garden. With the building of a parking lot and rain garden this spring, there will be soil from the digging to begin creating the hills for the playscape and it is important to have the overall plan in place.

Miller Ecological Park
Planning a Playscape and Children’s garden (Slide show outline):

Nature is important to a child’s development in every major way:

  • Intellectually
  • Emotionally
  • Socially
  • Spiritually
  • Physically

Hurdles to Saving our Children from
“Nature-Deficit Disorder”

  • Fear of children exploring in the world on their own (Safety issues)
  • Fear of litigation
  • Organized sports
  • Television
  • Computer
  • “I like to play indoors better cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are.” (Louv, quoting a 4th grader)

A playground at MEP is part of the Lebanon Parks Master Plan

  • Miller Park is surrounded by housing developments and there is a need to provide a playground for the many children who live in the area.

But we wanted something different..

  • Something other than the traditional playground, with swings, metal monkey bars, and high slides.
  • Something that would fit into MEP’s Ecological Mission.

¯The greatest threat to conservation…may be more subtle than bulldozers and chainsaws… experience with nature is the most highly cited influence on environmental attitude and conservation activism. (Oliver Pergams, Ph.D. and Patricia Zaradic, Ph.D)

Researchers added if the youngest generation loses that experience, the future of conservation is in jeopardy.

Then we discovered Playscapes !

  • The idea was sparked early in January, 2011 with a visit to the Cincinnati Nature Center.

A Playscape is a safe, recreational area

  • A Playscape is as near as possible to a completely natural environment..
  • There is a minimum of man-made components to a playscape.
  • The basic goal of the Playscape is to encourage both adults and children to get outside and discover and experience the beautiful world of nature.
  • Children are encouraged to use their creative and imaginative learning skills
    in the Playscape
  • Children will teach themselves how to appreciate nature.

Think of a playscape as a big, beautiful, natural park with open spaces, trees, rocks, hills and water… where you are free to roam about and enjoy natural surroundings in your own neighborhood as a part of daily life.

  • ( not just occasionally on a vacation to Hocking Hills or West Virginia)
  • We envision large grassy mounds to climb and roll on…tunnels to explore…
  • Lots of trees to run among or sit under and safe places to climb
  • Sticks and stones and pinecones for building and playing
  • Open spaces to enjoy
  • Water
  • And Gardens of all kinds: Sensory, Butterfly, Pick-able, and Vegetable Gardens

A Playscape encourages full Body Contact with Nature: Using all of the senses

  • Touching
  • Listening to the sounds
  • Picking
  • Smelling
  • Sitting and lying among the plants and ground cover.
  • Rolling down hills
  • Observing

A Playscape would be unique in the Lebanon City Park System

  • Currently there are no other Playscapes and Children’s Gardens in the park system.
  • The Playscape and children’s garden will fill a need in the community to give children a variety of outdoor experiences with nature which will benefit their intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, and physical growth.


1. Contract a Landscape Architect to create the design for a Playscape at Miller Ecological Park

  • The design would include estimated cost and a phased development plan.

2. Form a committee to work with the architect to plan the types of areas to be included and priorities.

3. Begin this year as the ground at MEP is prepared for the parking lot and trails.

  • Soil will be collected to use for building a sledding hill and mounds for the Playscape.

4. Gain Community support for the Playscape

  • Form a committee to plan and direct fundraising
  • Investigate grants
  • Form a committee to recruit volunteers and plan how they can used to build the Playscape.

All we have to do is plant the seeds!

The following books are available at the Lebanon Public Library:

  • Keeler, Rusty. Creating Natural Playscapes. Exchange Press. 2008
  • Lovejoy, Sharon. Roots, Shoots, Buckets, and Boots. Workman, 1999.
  • Dannenmaier, Molly. A Child's Garden. Timber, 1998.
  • Nabhan, Gary. Geography of Childhood. Beacon, 1995