and I want to welcome all of you to the new Meadowbrook playground,
affectionately known as Annie's Playground. We're so glad you could
all be here for the official dedication. We know that many of you
have already been playing here since the playground first opened
on Sept. 25th. It's just so wonderful to see so many kids enjoying
the playground. It's also great to see people meeting each other
here, making connections with other families. This is what we'd
hoped for, and we are quite overwhelmed that it has actually happened.
playground would never have been built if not for the many, many
people who gave so generously of their time and money. We are deeply
grateful to everyone who contributed in any way. We especially appreciate
the efforts of everyone who helped to assemble the playground equipment
and install tiles this summer. It was amazing to see so many people
working together, some days in the hot sun, other days in the rain.
Though many of us didn't know each other at first, we became a community
with a common goal. It was a truly great and memorable experience.
want to take this chance to mention a few individuals who went over
and above the call of duty for this project. The first is Janet
Wilson. Almost three years ago, I called the Meadowbrook Community
Center and talked to Janet, who was the recreation coordinator there
at that time. I had a request: Could the community center set up
a fund that would go towards renovating the old playground here,
which is just across the street from our house. Our daughter Annie
had recently passed away, and she had loved playgrounds. Since that
phone call, Janet has given freely of her abundant energy, creativity,
and loyalty. She has been a constant source of encouragement and
support. Over the past few months, Janet and her husband Geno have
spent countless hours at the playground, expertly assembling equipment,
installing tiles, and helping complete the finishing touches. For
us, you two are and will always be part of this place.
I'd like to mention everything that Tammie Conder has done for this
project -- but there's so much, it wouldn't be possible. We are
eternally grateful to Tammie for her dedication to this playground.
Many of you know what an amazing job she did planning and organizing
the community work parties this summer. NO ONE other than Tammie
could have handled all those details so well. It is because of Tammie's
common sense and ability to deal with problems that the work parties
were so productive, and more importantly so much fun. We so appreciate
Tammie's hard work, generosity and sensitivity.
and Tammie are part of a small group of community volunteers that
we call the Friends of Annie's Playground. This little group met
at the community center the first Monday every month for two years.
We planned and designed the playground, did fundraising and outreach.
We are so grateful to the people who made time to be a part of the
group. Dean Lambert attended the very first playground meeting with
his son Parker, and helped out in so many ways throughout the entire
process. Bryan Johns has also been a loyal playground supporter,
helping any way that he could. We also thank Meghan Peterka, Justin
Kurihara, and Joni Ross for their help and ideas over the years.
Special thanks to Mary Anderson, who drew the perfect logo for the
playground based on what I told her about Annie. And to Kiki Hendren,
who worked so hard to make our auction a success last year.
really going to miss these working with all these people -- they
made this really complicated and seemingly endless process actually
fun. At our meetings, everyone shared their thoughts and ideas freely,
listened to each other with our hearts, and laughed a lot. It was
somewhat chaotic, with all our kids yelling as they played in the
next room. Thank you for doing whatever needed to be done to help
make it happen. We will miss all of you, and think of you whenever
we visit the playground.
like to thank some non-community members, who have also worked long
and hard on this project. We hope that you will consider yourselves
to be honorary Friends of Annie's Playground. It's been great to
work with Randy Robinson, our landscape architect from Seattle Parks
and Recreation. We were lucky to have Randy to work on our design
-- he's had tons of experience and contributed a lot of good ideas
and sound advice. The design process for this playground was an
interesting collaborative effort. At Randy's first Friends of meeting,
he asked us to describe our artistic vision for the playground.
Basically, we didn't have one. We just wanted just lots of equipment
so that kids from preschool all the way through high school would
have something to play on. Later, he presented us with several playground
equipment plans, but we just couldn't get excited about any of them.
When we finally found a company we liked, Landscape Structures,
we wanted to include practically everything in their catalog. And
when we came up with the theme of northwest wildlife, we complicated
everything by adding lots of art elements. Randy, we thank you for
incorporating almost our entire wish list into this playground.
It turned out just right.
also want to say thank you to Heather Haskins of Architect Creations.
Heather gave invaluable advise to help us choose the really fun
climbing structures and great colors for our Landscape Structures
equipment. It was a great pleasure to work with her.
Roache, our tile artist, also worked hard to put all of our ideas
into the artistic elements of the playground. Last spring, Steve
led workshops for the community to make most of the artistic tiles
you see on the creek wall and tree bench. During the construction
phase, Steve guided us in the installation of the tile work and
construction of the tree bench. Steve worked with Anthony Kauffman
to build the caves, and with Renee Marceau, who did the tile work
on the heron bench. We are grateful to Steve for giving us this
very special opportunity to create a beautiful and meaningful place
for this community to enjoy. The artwork wasn't easy, but we're
glad we did it.
are indebted to the Dept. of Neighborhoods Matching Fund, which
granted us $86,000 towards the playground. We are so grateful to
Allynn Ruth for her honest and forthright advise about how to successfully
apply for the matching grant. She helped motivate me to do what
was necessary to get the job done. We also want to thank Allynn
for being such a strong advocate for us, as well as a constant source
of encouragement and support. We're grateful to Bill Keller and
the Associated Recreation Councils for making Annie's Playground
an official Friends of group, overseeing the playground fund, and
for handling the financial transactions. We also want to thank Lee
Bicknell and Pam VandeWeghe of the Meadowbrook Comm. Center, and
Maureen O'Neill of Seattle Parks for their support for this project.
parents, Rita and Jerry Frischer, deserve a very special recognition
and thanks. They have spread the word of the project far and wide.
They spent many hours preparing for the auction, and my mom wrote
several successful grant applications. During the construction phase,
Rita and Jerry were here, as well as Glenn's parents, Eizo and Aiko
Yasuda and brother Stan. They all pitched in to help with every
job, run errands, and provide last minute childcare. We'll never
forget the long hours they worked in extreme heat to help build
this playground. We're so glad that they could be here to help make
this dream come true. We also want to thank my sister Susan Norman,
for developing the playground web site, and for providing much emotional
and I have been partners in every aspect of the playground project
-- that's the way it had to be. We are thankful for our kids Nate
and Sophie, who went to every playground meeting and have been so
enthusiastic about the playground. They inspired us to keep going,
and they reminded us why this playground is so important. Kids and
their families need places where they can just have fun, where life
is simple and full of joy, where strangers can become immediate
friends. This was how our sweet Annie felt about life and about
people. Her joyfulness brought such light into our own lives. That's
what we're hoping this playground brings to other people. And lots
of happy memories too.