Making Places to Play – Is not Enough

scientiste:

Great thought piece by Jay Beckwith about the need for play advocacy and not just designated play spaces.

Originally posted on Playground Guru:

This article was first published in Playground Professionals Newsletter, July 20, 2015

trash boys

As a child of the sixties I spent my teen years grappling with the issues of the Vietnam War, the free speech movement, and civil rights. Our generation wanted to do something to make the world a better place.

Having graduated from San Francisco State with a major in art I went on to Pacific Oaks to learn to be an early childhood educator. One of the great things about Pacific Oaks is that they had preschool classes on campus and all of the graduate students had daily interaction with children. It was at Pacific Oaks that I first experienced a loose parts playspace. We used cable spools, old doors, boxes, tarps, and the like.

Seeing how well these worked I realized that I could combine what I could use in my background from both school and like…

View original 904 more words

Architecture and the Airpocalypse | Architect Magazine

A smoggy Shanghai skyline

A really fascinating read about improving air quality through design by architect Blaine Brownell:

During a study-abroad tour of China that I led in May and June through the University of Minnesota’s School of Architecture (read more about the trip here and here), one topic, aside from architecture, that my students and I discussed regularly was air pollution. Although we were in southern and central China, which are less affected than Beijing and other northern cities, we often found ourselves in a murky atmosphere. For three weeks, we rarely saw blue sky even on sunny days, and the air imparted a palpable thickness.

We checked the country’s Air Quality Index (AQI) daily via mobile app for the local forecast—especially after a bout of intense allergies sent me to a local pharmacist. This led us to question how we as architects and designers can counter such an ever-present problem.

Air pollution influences not only our physical health but also our experience of the built environment. Buildings and landscapes become soft and gritty, losing their clarity, sharpness, and color behind a veil of smog. The azure backdrop that is beloved in architectural representations is rarely witnessed. Rather, gray predominates, at times accompanied by brown. Despite this reality, blue sky persists in renderings of projects in China.

read the whole article at via Architecture and the Airpocalypse | Architect Magazine |.

Nature Valley shows chilling faces of children addicted to technology

Okay, ignore that this is a granola company’s commercial.

And they may have cherry-picked to prove a point.

YET…

The fact that even these kids exist is terrifying.

Just watch the video. And cringe. Mourn. Cry. Then go do something about it!

Children are obsessed with technology, and Nature Valley wants us to be afraid. Very afraid.

That seems to be the message of this new ad for the granola bar company, which asks three generations of families: “When you were a kid, what did you do for fun?”

The elder two generations share memories of blueberry picking, sledding, fishing trips, and playing baseball as airy music plays in the background.

But then it’s the younger generation’s turn, and ominous music suggests these kids aren’t exactly frolicking in the grass and soaking in the sunshine. The kids detail that they spend five hours a day texting, emailing, tweeting, browsing the computer, or playing video games as the parents cry or lament the death of the good old days.

h/t via Nature Valley shows chilling faces of children addicted to technology (Mashable).

This is not okay people. So, so, the opposite of okay!

Go volunteer to take your niece or nephew to the park, or go hunt for cool leaves and flowers in the park. Grow a flower or even spider plant and give it to a kid! Take action!

6 Ways to Integrate Play Into the Workplace | Inc.com

I could, and will, write a whole blog post about just the first sentence of this article.

But I’ll just let you read the whole piece and save that for another day.

Play has a PR problem. Some think of play as frivolous –- a distraction, or worse, a waste of time. In the office, play is often regarded as a break from “real work.” But what if the opposite of play isn’t work, it’s boredom? What if work could actually benefit from play?

As a partner at IDEO, I help instill a playful culture, not only in mindset, but also in our daily behaviors. Play allows us to experiment, empathize and take creative risks. Ask anyone who works at IDEO — having play engrained in our culture makes it an incredibly satisfying place to work. It keeps us engaged in our projects and makes us better innovators.

In preparing to teach a new online course on IDEO U, I’ve been thinking about the behaviors of play that have allowed our team to be successful in developing and executing ideas to meet the needs of a particularly tough group of consumers: kids and their parents. These six behaviors not only manifest themselves in the products we create, but also in our interactions as designers, and I believe they can have a profound impact on every organization’s ability to innovate.

read what they are and how to incorporate them into the work space via 6 Ways to Integrate Play Into the Workplace | Inc.com.

What have you done to incorporate play into your own work life?

Sidewalk murals to installed to encourage play

More great sidewalk art inspiring play:

Sidewalk murals to encourage creativity in York - The York Daily Record

York County School of Technology student Lisa Nguyen, 15, painted this colorful artscape, “Step Across the Rainbow,” along North Beaver Street in front of Central Market.

The piece is part of the Bring on Play program as part of the Eat Play Breathe York initiative to add interactive play opportunities for children along regular walking routes downtown.

“The goal is to have playful sidewalk artscapes throughout the city, especially in neighborhoods, so we can reach children who might not have the opportunity to go to a park or play on school playground equipment,” Eat Play Breathe York chairwoman Cori Strathmeyer said. “We want to really encourage creativity and socialization as well as the physical aspect.”

The plan is to complete 20 permanent sidewalk murals downtown by the end of summer.

more via Sidewalk murals to encourage creativity in York – The York Daily Record.

London Bridge Transformed Into Rainbow Walkway in Spark Of Creativity That Banished Mondayitis

Fantastic! As a fellow resident of a gray and gloomy city, a little splash of surprise color can do wonders!

The grey weather was no match for a new art installation on London Bridge, which transformed the crossing into a rainbow walkway for one day only.

The project was created by Spark Your City, a global movement “dedicated to spark joy in everyday life”.

According to the group’s Facebook page, they are “travelling the world from city to city”, and London was the first major centre to get the spark makeover.

check out all the pictures of the bridge and more via London Bridge Transformed Into Rainbow Walkway in Spark Of Creativity That Banished Mondayitis.

Seattle’s Pianos in the Parks program encourages park discovery through music

Ah summer, which in Seattle brings out swimmers, cyclists, picnickers… and pianos!

It’s music to our ears: the pianos are back. After a successful first campaign, Pianos in the Parks will be returning for a second season on July 16. The month-long program will add to additional pianos to the roster this year, totaling 22 pianos in Puget Sound-area locations. Seattle Parks and Recreation will host 11 pianos in public parks.

The program, led by Laird Norton Wealth Management, is designed to encourage the discovery of parks through music and art by placing one-of-a-kind, artist-designed upright and grand pianos in parks and public spaces across King County including Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Mercer Island and Sea-Tac, for free public use and music exploration.

All 22 previously owned pianos are procured, repaired, tuned, transported and maintained by Classic Pianos; and are painted by student, alumni and faculty artists of Gage Academy of Art.

The specific parks and public spaces which will host the pianos through Aug. 16 will be announced at a public kick-off celebration from noon to 1:30pm on Thursday, July 16 at Lake Union Park – See more at: http://parkways.seattle.gov/2015/07/08/pianos-in-the-parks-encourage-park-discovery-through-music/#sthash.vq7rBMDn.dpuf
The specific parks and public spaces which will host the pianos through Aug. 16 will be announced at a public kick-off celebration from noon to 1:30pm on Thursday, July 16 at Lake Union Park (860 Terry Avenue North) near the park’s model boat pond in downtown Seattle. At the celebration, local artists who painted the pianos will unveil their works of art – followed by a musical performance in which all 22 instruments will be played by local pianists. Also participating in the event are a number of musicians, city and county officials, and program partners. Following the unveiling, the public will have an opportunity to view all 22 pianos, meet the artists and be treated to additional musical performances. – See more at: http://parkways.seattle.gov/2015/07/08/pianos-in-the-parks-encourage-park-discovery-through-music/#sthash.vq7rBMDn.dpuf

via Pianos in the Parks encourage park discovery through music.

There will be a public “opening” of the pianos from noon to 1:30pm on Thursday, July 16 at Lake Union Park (860 Terry Avenue North) near the park’s model boat pond in downtown Seattle.

The pianos will welcome park-goers in their respective locations thru Aug. 16. During this time, people of all skill levels and musical persuasions are urged to enter a Pianos in the Parks video contest for a chance to perform as part of the Seattle Center’s Concerts at the Mural presented by KEXP 90.3 FM on Friday, Aug. 21. Entrants simply need to upload a video of their performance using one of the participating pianos to the Pianos in the Parks website, http://www.pianosintheparks.com beginning July 16.

Find a piano, take a picture or video of yourself with it, and share with the world!

from noon to 1:30pm on Thursday, July 16 at Lake Union Park (860 Terry Avenue North) near the park’s model boat pond in downtown Seattle – See more at: http://parkways.seattle.gov/2015/07/08/pianos-in-the-parks-encourage-park-discovery-through-music/#sthash.vq7rBMDn.dpuf

The Power of Play and Creative Playful Spaces

Three kids, now all high school graduates, dedicated their recesses to digging up a gigantic rock out of their elementary school yard. The principal decided to keep it and now future generations of kids are getting a chance to play with the “magical” rock.

The kids started working on the gift unwittingly. It was 10 years ago. They were in second grade and out on the playground during recess when one of them saw a little rock — or what looked like a little rock — sticking up out of the ground.

But year after year they returned to the project. Digging mostly with sticks and plastic spoons they got from the cafeteria, the kids dug down — through second grade, third grade, fourth grade and fifth grade — until finally, just before moving on to middle school, they finished.

The principal brought in heavy equipment to lift it out of the hole for them. That was 2008. Now the three are like rock stars around Kittredge, partly because of the accomplishment itself, but mostly for what the rock has become.

more, including the video, via How a rock on a school playground became “magical” – CBS News.

The kids now use the rock as a “neutral” zone, or a spot to hang out and wait for kids to come invite you to play, which as  a former kid I can tell you does indeed feel magical.

It is amazing the dedication that kids can show in play and exploration. They spent years! digging up this rock with improvised tools. An amazing lesson in perseverance, creativity, and teamwork.

Incredible props to the elementary school principal who let the kids dig up the yard to get to the rock, so many may have discouraged the behavior.

Email-a-Tree Service Turns Into Love Letters to Melbourne’s Urban Trees

This is beautiful.

We humans love nature.

And now, the residents of Melbourne have found a way to express it.

The city of Melbourne assigned trees email addresses so citizens could report problems. Instead, people wrote thousands of love letters to their favorite trees.

“My dearest Ulmus,” the message began.

“As I was leaving St. Mary’s College today I was struck, not by a branch, but by your radiant beauty. You must get these messages all the time. You’re such an attractive tree.”

This is an excerpt of a letter someone wrote to a green-leaf elm, one of thousands of messages in an ongoing correspondence between the people of Melbourne, Australia, and the city’s trees.

Officials assigned the trees ID numbers and email addresses in 2013 as part of a program designed to make it easier for citizens to report problems like dangerous branches. The “unintended but positive consequence,” as the chair of Melbourne’s Environment Portfolio, Councillor Arron Wood, put it to me in an email, was that people did more than just report issues. They also wrote directly to the trees, which have received thousands of messages—everything from banal greetings and questions about current events to love letters and existential dilemmas.

“The email interactions reveal the love Melburnians have for our trees,” Wood said. City officials shared several of the tree emails with me, but redacted the names of senders to respect their privacy.

Read more of the love letters via Email-a-Tree Service Doesn’t Go As Planned, But in the Best Possible Way – CityLab.

I bet this is something Seattle could really get behind, or San Francisco, or Chicago, or any city with multiple older trees.

Do you have a tree that you love or loved? Write your city about it, or on Twitter, or if you’re feeling shy you can share it here in the comments.

Scientists have discovered that living near trees is good for your health – The Washington Post

While it may be better for you to take a walk in the woods than on an urban block, living near trees, even in an urban environment, has been found repeatedly to improve people’s health, even making them feel younger.

In a new paper published Thursday, a team of researchers present a compelling case for why urban neighborhoods filled with trees are better for your physical health. The research appeared in the open access journal Scientific Reports.

The large study builds on a body of prior research showing the cognitive and psychological benefits of nature scenery — but also goes farther in actually beginning to quantify just how much an addition of trees in a neighborhood enhances health outcomes. The researchers, led by psychologist Omid Kardan of the University of Chicago, were able to do so because they were working with a vast dataset of public, urban trees kept by the city of Toronto — some 530,000 of them, categorized by species, location, and tree diameter — supplemented by satellite measurements of non-public green space (for instance, trees in a person’s back yard).

They also had the health records for over 30,000 Toronto residents, reporting not only individual self-perceptions of health but also heart conditions, prevalence of cancer, diabetes, mental health problems and much more.

more via Scientists have discovered that living near trees is good for your health – The Washington Post.

I live in a fairly verdant neighborhood in a very green city, and this report still makes me want to go out and plant some more trees!