Kids are spending less time outdoors than prison inmates, and it's leading to a whole host of problems like obesity, nature deficit disorder and lower levels of what could be called "ecological literacy". But how do you get screen-addled kids excited to go outdoors?
Perhaps we could learn from Bruno Ferrin, an Italian restauranteur and self-taught maker, who created this astounding "ecological park" in Battaglia, Italy. It's filled with almost 50 rides: hand-built swings, a multi-storey slide tower, an enormous gyroscope, a ferris wheel, rollercoaster and of course, a trampoline, all powered without electricity, and constructed slowly over a period of 40 years. Watch this short tour from Great Big Story:
This Is Colossal, Ferrin began Osteria ai Pioppi as kind of a way to draw more customers to his family restaurant (which, incidentally, literally began with him setting up shop with a few jugs of wine and sausages under the shade of a tree). He taught himself how to weld, and began building his own rides, using inspiration from nature, he says:
I look at movements in nature: a branch that is moving, a bird that is flying, and then I get an idea.
There's certainly something da Vinci-like with these impressive structures, which are all powered by the riders, making them all the more conducive to a healthier experience, rather than the commercialized and motorized bubble of an conventional amusement park:
Everything works manually. There are no motors. If you want to play, you have to push and sweat. Otherwise the ride won't move. That's the most important and beautiful thing about this park.
Ferrin notes how this unique ecological park is bringing kids and their parents (who get to let their inner children out) together; and during the last few decades Osteria ai Pioppi has become quite a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. There's nothing quite like realizing the playground of one's imagination, and it seems like Ferrin has done exactly that, while getting young and old people to look at nature in a different way. Best of all, the playground is free for guests of Bruno's inn or restaurant. For more information, visit Osteria ai Pioppi.