In celebration of LSUP’s 80th anniversary the staff selected 80 of our most memorable titles. Adding to our “Around the Press in 80 Books” blog series, Senior Editor Alisa Plant writes about Building Playgrounds, Engaging Communities.
Marybeth Lima is intense. She talks fast. She holds your gaze. She’s a small woman, but she can haul a eighty-pound bag of concrete. That last fact is important because for the past seventeen years, Lima—the Cliff and Nancy Spanier Alumni Professor of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at LSU—has spearheaded the LSU Community Playground Project, building playgrounds for elementary school kids in East Baton Rouge Parish.
As a newbie professor, Lima came up with the idea of building playgrounds as a way to engage her first-year engineering students by designing something “real.” Thirty playground builds later, she has partnered with many local principals, teachers, and schoolchildren eager to have fun and safe playgrounds at their schools. She’s written a zillion grants for funding support. She learned to keep asking until she got the “Texas no”—“Hell, no, and don’t ask me again!” And over and over, she and her students have seen the joy of children as they play on their brand-new equipment.
In Building Playgrounds, Engaging Communities, Lima reveals the hard work, the hits and misses, and the many dedicated people behind the LSU Community Playground Project. Convinced that we can accomplish extraordinary things when we do ordinary things together, she has become a tireless advocate not only for the importance of play, but also for the importance of playground safety. Her heartfelt and hopeful stories testify to both.
Read this book. You’ll be charmed. You’ll be moved. You may even be inspired to engage in community service yourself. Nothing would make Marybeth Lima happier.
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