Here's something I'm sorry I missed - darn, I was doing something else that day and I was so upset. It's a mini-Olympics for the local kids. I have posted before about the large private gardens in the area where I live, and these gardens, or "greens" as we call them, are fantastic community resources.
Our area was developed as middle class housing in the 1880s, but instead of giving the houses long gardens, the developers gave them tiny back gardens and used the rest of the space for a communal space - traffic free and private to the residents. It is even more useful now that the vast majority of the houses have been divided into flats.
I don't know why more planners don't create these traffic free spaces in cities. IN the countryside there is usually a field or something where people can congregate - not so in towns or suburbs.
Our area is not the only one where there are these greens. I once visited one in Brighton which really reminded me of ours. The early nineteenth century was a good time for communal spaces - squares, "circuses" (round recreational areas) and so on. Perhaps the owner of the building firm who developed our area grew up on something similar.
Anyway the greens offer a big space for all kinds of things - parties, bonfires,
(before the Health and Safety rules put an end to those) or organised games and once even a landing space for an air ambulance! When they organised the last kids' Olympics, it was amazing to see how even the toughest and most anti social local teenage boys really got into it, training like mad and very proud when they won medals.
The Olympics is supposed to be about encouraging sport, but I wonder how many other British communities were even able to hold sporting events. It makes it so much easier if there is space, and when there is, people will generally get together to find something to do.
It's not all idyllic on public spaces, of course. People are people and some of them are a real pain. There are always issues about dogs, kids playing rowdy games or bullying other kids, noise, smoky BBQs, litter and so on. But at least it gets folks talking to each other, even if they are only complaining and arguing (as it sometimes seems at the time).
And the kids are definitely more active, since most of the time they would rather be outside with their friends and have lots of space to play in, than sit inside with their computer games on their own.