PUBLISHED: 2:26 PM on Wednesday, June 27, 2007
What's the NEXT Project Playground?
Last week Juneau kids and parents finally enjoyed the fruit of the community's labors as the Project Playground at Twin Lakes opened.

To say the playground's towers, castles, slides and myriad of great places to climb and play was a hit with the youngsters is quite an understatement. The only opening weekend complaint was so many kids were having a good time they had to take turns on the playground!

The finished facility would have cost more than $2 million to build but thanks to thousands of volunteers providing most of the labor, was built for about 20 percent of that. But besides saving the money, it brought a lot of folks from very diverse backgrounds together working toward a common goal. And many of them rediscovered the real joy of working together.

The project proved again some core values about Juneau and Southeast Alaska folk. We love our kids. We love to help each other. We love to work with our hands. And we love to play in the mud!

I worked a very few but very memorable hours over a couple of days on the project, as did many members of the Capital City Weekly staff.

For somebody that grew up with a hammer and saw in hand, working on my Dad's rental properties, it was great to have somebody encourage me to work 20 feet up on a ladder or use a Skilsaw in the rain again.

Enough celebration of one job well done.

So what's next?

What is the next Playground that this community can build together?

What is the next community improvement we can work on together, to build a better Juneau or better Southeast?

One key thing that make Project Playground work was a team of professionals from outside Juneau helped assemble the campaign, from design and fundraising to how many nails and what grade of lumber went into the finished product.

But why can't we do as well on our own?

It starts with another dream and with our commitment to work together and make a difference.

It could be something we're already doing but on a grander scale.

Like helping the elderly in our community fix their homes.

Or expanding our current local parks.

Or getting our homeless teenagers (there are more than 100 in Juneau) off the street.

Or tackling alcohol and substance abuse.

Or even building more affordable housing.

What do you think?

What is the next Dream Project?

There are not bad ideas, and our newspaper would like to take an active role in sharing these ideas and picking the next Project.

E-mail your ideas to or call 523-2246.

We'll post some ideas in the coming months on our Web site at

Let's dream big!

Leschper is general manager of the Capital City Weekly and advertising director of the Juneau Empire.

E-mail him at