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Transom Podcast

52 EpisodesProduced by TransomWebsite

Transom.org is an experiment in channeling new work and voices to public radio through the internet, and for discussing that work, and encouraging more. Our podcast offers some tasty little audio morsels to go.

11:34

Of Kith and Kids

“Of Kith and Kids” on PRX

About “Of Kith and Kids”

It started with a pledge to my local public radio station… yes!

As a sustaining member of WNYC I receive a New Yorker subscription and read the piece: State Of Play: How Tot Lots Became Places to Build Children’s Brains by Rebecca Mead. The article covers the 2010 opening of a high profile playspace in Manhattan called the Imagination Playground. The writer likened it to something much grittier, darker and, well, European: something called an adventure playground. Intrigued, I did a little Googling, read a little more and quite simply fell down the rabbit hole.

Turns out, adventure playgrounds have quietly flourished since the second World War in the UK, Denmark and Germany. They’re usually tucked into neighborhoods without much fanfare and take many forms, from chaotic junkyards to whimsical shantytowns. Yet they all embrace something that unsettles the American sensibility, a necessary and positive relationship between risk and play. Staffed by adults trained in “playwork,” adventure playgrounds have been described as, “a complete artwork. A space and time where all one’s senses are engaged.”

I began reaching out to people in the “play” world, and soon began to hear about a new playground called The Land, in North Wales. The Land was breathing new life into some of the movement’s oldest “junk” philosophies. So, I booked a short visit to see it for myself and was kindly welcomed by the staff and children in November 2012.

I remember walking onto The Land for the first time and feeling dwarfed by color and chaos and scale — a shining marble here, a towering tree there! I spent a few days taking photos and filming, returned to the US itching for a proper documentary shoot.

Thanks to the support of about 150 generous Kickstarter backers (you know who you are!) I returned to The Land in April 2013 for three weeks to shoot a film, which I’m now editing.

(Teaser for Erin’s new film about The Land.)

Audio for the Transom piece was recorded during the two visits. The title comes from the expression, “kith and kin.” In its original meaning, “kith” refers to one’s home country, the bit of earth where we build our homes, grow our food and raise our children — our Land.

Interview with Dave the playworker, film still

Challenges

Making a radio story out of film material

I had to decide early on how to handle interviews, knowing I would be producing both a radio piece and a short film. As an experiment, I did do one audio-only interview in a good quiet space and it sounds terrific. But I don’t have that shot to cut to, which is a disadvantage. If I had to do it again, I would have stuck with the field setup, simply for consistency in the edit. However, it was definitely a tough call and I’d love to speak with other producers creating multi-format work and how they approach this.

Fun Fact – GoPro Audio

Most of Paige’s audio is from a GoPro headcam she’s wearing. I certainly did not plan to use the GoPro for audio recording, just thought it would be fun to see the kid’s POV. So I nearly fell out of my chair when I pulled it up weeks later and heard Paige narrating her own private adventure through the space.

The GoPro comes with 2 “backs”, one waterproof and one that is “open”. This setup utilized the “open” back. The waterproof/closed back significantly muffles the audio.

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