BECOMING NATURE PLAY SPECIALISTS
John LaPointe is co-owner and founder of GRG Playscapes. GRG opened its doors in 2004 as Greener Roofs and Gardens, a general-landscape maintenance company, serving clients throughout the Milwaukee area.
He made his start by maintaining prairie gardens at several elementary schools and backyards. As the company grew, John studied landscape architecture at UW Madison, establishing a technical understanding of water management and its place in design. Eventually John began to serve the residential market, integrating creative water management techniques into design-build projects.
Having grown up as one of eight children on a farm in rural Wisconsin with the woods as his backyard, John observed that the general landscape industry was missing something critical: the integration of creative outdoor spaces for children. This sparked a journey to transform residential landscaping, considering children as he designed outdoor living spaces.
As John began to add play spaces to residential designs, he discovered a passion to design and build for children. In his search to develop innovative ways to serve young clients in their backyards, John transformed his own backyard into a world of wonder.
Constantly changing and evolving, the LaPointe family backyard quickly became a hub of invention as John experimented with the space. He inspired the kids in his neighborhood to engage with the natural world and learn through problem solving and collaboration. Working together, John and the children were awakened to the self-discovery and creativity that comes while playing outdoors.
This backyard learning lead John to consider these questions:
...What naturally engages children in outdoor play?
...How does one craft a space that inspires ultimate opportunities for self discovery?
...What does the modern child need?
PLAYGROUNDS TO PLAYSCAPES
Many backyards later, a decade of successful work and careful observation yielded compelling answers to these questions about how children engage with outdoor spaces. These insights informed a new business outlook for John, and in 2014 he set a goal of inspiring 10 million children through outdoor play by the year 2030.
In 2017, GRG Playscapes was born with the sole focus of serving children through outdoor play, and it is quickly becoming a recognized leader in the Midwest as the go-to-builder for natural playscapes in parks, daycare centers, and schools. Many key projects have popped up around the Milwaukee, Madison, and Chicago areas.