In 2013, Erin Davis arrived at The Land with a film crew. Suzanna drove over for a visit, and put Erin and I on the phone to say hello. We didn’t get long to talk though, as Erin had to go suddenly as the children were “launching the boat”.
The documentary short Erin’s team made comes closer than anything we’ve seen to capturing the living spirit of a good adventure playground. There are moments that are hard for some adults to watch, involving fire, swearing and young bravado. There are some moments that are baffling, where a child is deeply engaged in something that we cannot understand. There are moments of humor, caution, celebration, and short interviews with staff about the decisions they make as professionals. Each of these scenes is treated with a rare compassion. Every shot of The Land is suffused with love.
We’re so pleased to announce a screening of The Land as part of our 2017 Playwork Campference. We’ll follow it with a panel of people who understand adventure playgrounds from the inside out, and who can help people put elements of these ideas into practice elsewhere.
Most excitingly, you’ll get to meet Erin Davis herself, and ask her all the ‘behind the scene’ questions you can think of! We are excited to have her at the Campference with us.
Here is a little interview we did with Erin amidst the excitement of the Campference planning:
Pop-Up Adventure Play: What were your original intentions with The Land?
ED: First, I just wanted to learn. What is playwork? How is it possible to not lose your mind with anxiety when you have fire and water and hammers and nails and trees and mannequins laying around? I was lucky in that I was able to stay at The Land and immerse myself in the play and playwork culture long enough, I think, to really see the ecosystem functioning.
PUAP: What has the reception been like so far? (any idea how many public screenings there have been/what are your thoughts on the movement/etc)
ED: We’ve had dozens of public screenings. many I’m present for and many I’m not. Audiences are really self selecting so in my experience the credits roll and viewers are saying, “Yes How can we do more of this?” The Land cues permission to the kids who play there, and to adult viewers as well. It shows that the limits of what is possible are beyond what we thought. It breaks open the “box”. It’s a great tool for advocacy and discussion. But it’s not the whole story. It needs the context of a playful discussion
PUAP: What are you hoping to experience at Campference?
ED: Oh man, I want to feel the SCVAP space in these early moments. I believe in Erica and Jeremiah and what they are doing, and it really feels exciting to be able to support the work they do now. I know it is going to grow and really matter.
PUAP: How do you play, for yourself?
ED: Oh wow. I knit, I go for walks. I eat cookie batter instead of cookies. But also I have a five month old baby so whenever I can try and be present with him and interpret his language and respond and engage with him. It’s a puzzle and sometimes he doesn’t need me, but when we are doing new things together, man it is a joy. And I guess I’d say it’s play because we are just being together, present in the moment jiving. Not watching the clock or checking email or planning for college. Just growing together, and being close. it’s cool.
To find out more about Erin and her documentary, please visit her website. To keep up-to-date with all Pop-Up Adventure Play related awesomeness, come and join our Facebook page. To register your interest in our Playwork Campference, fill in our form here.