Child's Play

by Bert Weichel

lego-buildingsOh, I used to be quite creative. In fact, part architect, part engineer, my constructions included whole functional communities complete with all the essential infrastructure. There were houses, shops, factories, trains and boats and planes, bridges and skyscrapers. These were not static places. The old gave way to the new. As needs changed or new ideas came up, existing works were replaced and more building ensured. At the time, it all seemed so realistic.

However, a fundamental difference between the “real world” and what I had been doing only dawned on me much later. Back then, I gather, it apparently never even entered my head that one might take after existing structures with explosives, wrecking balls or bulldozers and truck the debris off to some dump as though it were garbage. (But then, come to think of it, there weren’t any landfills anyway.)

How could I have strayed from reality like that? I’ve recently concluded it was likely forced upon me by the circumstances in which I was expressing my urge to design and construct things. You see, although they surely must have counted in the several hundreds, there were actually a finite number of pieces in my beloved LEGO set. Clearly, in attempting to continue building, a smash-and-trash approach would very quickly have robbed me of the ability to carry on. So the obvious alternative was simply a necessity. Whatever was no longer required or desired, by means of being carefully dismantled and retained, provided the materials for further creations. Naturally, this all worked because LEGO is actually designed to be easily disassembled and reincarnated as a new expression of a child’s imagination.

Just yesterday I saw the remains of two houses in our neighbourhood, demolished by large backhoes, being carted off to the landfill. A recent StarPhoenix front page showed a Rosthern grain elevator being toppled instead of dismantled for salvage. And most people have seen spectacular news footage of huge buildings being leveled by specialized explosives experts. So if you know of some children who seem like they may grow up to become architects or engineers, please give them a LEGO set to play with. It could help them practice for a career in constructing sustainable communities within a finite world.

[Source: June 2006 WasteWatch ]