Alright, I did it; I made the Giving Advent Calendar mock-up. There are some great ideas out there for giving back for December, like this interactive one, but I really wanted to focus on ways we could give back for free or low cost. That said, this is a super simple one I made up using Word, so I would love to see what other people have come up with for Giving Advent Calendars, both content and design.
I have seen November designated at the Month of Gratitude, and I was truly inspired by the list of 100 things you could do to make your neighborhood/community more playful.
I’ve been thinking, what about combining the two into a month of giving, or instead of an advent calendar where you get a treat, you make an advent calendar where you GIVE a treat.
This doesn’t need to cost you any money, either. You can give time at a volunteer effort. You can help someone move something heavy. You can give a compliment. You can build one of the 100 ideas posted before and put it in a public space where everyone can use it.
I really like this idea, and although we are all busy and poor and have way too much to do, myself included, I am going to try and do something for someone else at least up until Christmas, other than the usual obligatory caring and feeding of my dependents (dog, kid, fish, etc.), and preferably for free and/or using materials I’ve got laying around the house.
What kind of free giving are you planning on doing this season? Share it in the comments below.
Double-posting because I think this is so important; from the blogger James Clear:
In 2010, the American Journal of Public Health published a review titled, The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health. You can find it here.
In that article, researchers analyzed more than 100 studies about the impact of art on your health and your ability to heal yourself. The studies included everything from music and writing to dance and the visual arts.
As an example, here are the findings from five visual arts studies mentioned in that review (visual arts includes things like painting, drawing, photography, pottery, and textiles). Each study examined more than 30 patients who were battling chronic illness and cancer.
Here’s how the researchers described the impact that visual art activities had on the patients…
“Art filled occupational voids, distracted thoughts of illness”
“Improved well–being by decreasing negative emotions and increasing positive ones”
“Improved medical outcomes, trends toward reduced depression”
“Reductions in stress and anxiety; increases in positive emotions”
“Reductions in distress and negative emotions”
“Improvements in flow and spontaneity, expression of grief, positive identity, and social networks”
I don’t know about you, but I think the benefits listed above sound like they would be great not just for patients in hospitals, but for everyone. Who wouldn’t want to reduce stress and anxiety, increase positive emotions, and reduce the likelihood of depression?
James Clear goes on to explain some of the physical benefits of creativity. Go read it here, and then go get creative.
I love this idea of essentially creating exercise Easter eggs for people around the city. It makes people think of their surroundings in totally new, possibly more sporty ways.
The UK government is backing a new fitness initiative that includes putting calorie-counting labels on staircases so people can keep track of how many calories they burn while taking the stairs.
The project, which was developed by StepJockey, includes an app and a website to help people count the calories burned when taking the stairs. The project is backed by London Mayor Boris Johnson, the Department of Health, and NHS London.
The initiative was inspired by food labels that inform people of the calories they are consuming. According to their website, the initiative is “about the other side of the equation,” which entails labeling the physical world to promote fitness and weight loss.
People can “rate” unlabeled staircases by sending enough information for StepJockey to calculate how many calories would be burned when using it. The details can then be printed on a poster that they can put up near the staircases.
I love the concept of interacting with the real world and have crowd sourced information. Plus it’s fun to see spots pop up and know you’re part of the "in crowd," plus some friendly peer pressure to get active.
At first, artist Mica Angela Hendricks didn’t want her four-year-old daughter near her new sketchbook. But her daughter convinced her, and Mica let her daughter finish one of her sketches, and pretty soon, they had a whole collection of collaborations.
Mica claims that her amazing artistic experiences with her daughter have taught her a lot about being an artist, and that you have to let go of control for wonderful things to happen.
In the village of Dithyrambalina, all the houses invite you to play them. Musical architecture in New Orleans!
“High concept and nontraditional as it may be, The Music Box has found a place in the long history of New Orleans music.” – Ann Powers, NPR
Dithyrambalina will be a sonic playground, performance venue and laboratory for musical architecture in New Orleans.
From fall 2011 through spring 2012 The Music Box, A Shantytown Sound Laboratory presented groundbreaking musical performances and cacophonous public hours in a miniature village of musical architecture on a residential lot in New Orleans. Constructed from the salvaged remains of an ancient cottage, invented instruments were embedded into the walls, ceilings, floors and staircases of musical structures created by 25 collaborating artists, inventors and tinkers. Performed on by over 70 world-class musicians for orchestral concerts and attended by over 15,000 visitors & 500+students, The Music Box captured the hearts of the New Orleans community.
The Music Box has closed, but 2014 will see the creation of five new musical houses that will be the inaugural structures of Dithyrambalina. We will use these new houses to form a roving village that will visit neighborhoods around New Orleans, and the country, sharing the wonder and possibility of musical architecture with new audiences as we continue to grow our village and work towards securing a perfect and permanent site for Dithyrambalina in New Orleans.
This mom is really mad that her boys, and most kids, are not allowed to play in a normal manner and not coddle or guide them the entire time:
I often think about the world my boys will grow up in. I often get angry when I think about it.
Many years ago, there was a time where young boys could run around with their toy guns, killing the bad guys. You could take the toy guns away from the little boys, and they’d find something else around them – a stick, their fingers, etc – and pretend it was a gun. Today, those little boys – if caught doing that – are labeled as threats, and immediate action is taken to remove that threat from the group.
Modern parents, who drop everything all the time to sit and play with the child, who “needs attention,” or drop what they’re doing to help the child the second he or she gets frustrated? How is Joey going to deal with the fact that there won’t be anyone in his adult life who’s willing to stop what they’re doing, stop living their busy lives, to cater to his every whim?
As a young parent, I get to see firsthand the kind of struggle this mom is talking about. She points out all the same reasons that play advocates do about why we need to let kids explore with real life situations, like good guys and bad guys, and bullies (to some extent), and frustration. Coddling kids or helicopter parenting shelters kids from getting to experience the joys of accomplishment and independence that we all craved as kids and take for granted now as grown-ups.
I say get angry, Stephanie! Get angry, people! This is life and death stuff we’re talking about here.