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Last updated: 5/18/18

Play around the City

When we add playfulness to untraditional spaces, we increase learning and resilience habits across the City.

We plan to push the boundaries of what it means to be a playful city. Our goal is to build on our existing space-based play areas, such as our playgrounds and parks. We want to create a city where everyone feels welcomed and empowered to playfully imagine more.

Whether it’s on a sidewalk, at the bus stop, on the route to work, or at the laundromat, we are spending more and more time looking at small screens. We’re also spending less time interacting with those around us. We want you to be able to reimagine your space so that it becomes a venue for you to make connections. To your neighbors. To yourself. To your inner child. To the environment around you.

Have questions? Contact us:

Public Space Invitational

The Public Space Invitational is a biannual project New Urban Mechanics has run over the past four years.

It is all about reimagining Boston's public spaces. This year, we are adding a play-specific component. We are interested in encouraging creative and fun, temporary, playful interventions for Boston Public Schools bus stops. We are starting with four bus stops, spread across four neighborhoods (East Boston, Fields Corner, Garrison Trotter, and Roslindale).

Do you have a playful idea ready to go? Have a plan for making it happen? We want to hear.

Submit your idea

Ideal sites

These are sites where we know children (mostly aged 3-11) and adults spend time together, but don’t always have a lot to do. Play for the sake of play can be encouraged, while also developing learning and resilience habits. At these sites, play can be a community activity for everyone. This play can cost little to put in place but have big impact on children, adults, and older adults.

Project requirements

Four projects will be selected for funding. Projects must be:

  • temporary (four to six months)
  • ready to be put in place within four to six months, and
  • meet a budget of $2,000.

Projects need to have ideas that can be executed with succinct and thoughtful plans. Proposals should also have the potential and plan for scaling to more locations in the future.


Research has tied play and playfulness to more rapid development of learning skills and resilient behaviors. We want to test the impact of increased access to play for children and families, especially in untraditional settings, like sidewalks and bus stops. We hope this experiment informs our understanding of how early-morning playful interventions affect a student’s day in school.