This Public Bench Turns Into A Merry-Go-Round To Connect Strangers On The Street | Co.Exist | ideas + impact

Super cool (sorry it’s been awhile).

Sitting on a bench at a bus stop or in the park, most people tend to focus on their smartphones or a book rather than whoever’s sitting next to them. But a new bench is designed to instantly connect strangers in a moment of play: When you sit down, the bench transforms into a makeshift merry-go-round.

more at via This Public Bench Turns Into A Merry-Go-Round To Connect Strangers On The Street | Co.Exist | ideas + impact.

5 Health Benefits of Play

scientiste:

Get out there and grab some play time this weekend…

Originally posted on TIME:

If you think the benefits of playtime ended shortly after you learned how to tie your shoes, it may be time to channel your inner kindergartner. Playing can improve your health, happiness, and productivity. Here’s why:

Laughter can bust stress.

A good chuckle can lower stress levels, science suggests. In one study, some participants watched funny videos, while others sat quietly. Those who watched the videos had better recall (hello, improved memory!) and showed lower levels of cortisol, the hormone connected with stress. Stress can damage your body by causing all kinds of problems including headaches, anxiety, and sleep problems. In other words, the physical and mental benefits of laughter are no joke.

Play can help your brain grow.

Even well into adulthood, easy memory games may help stimulate brain growth. Learning new names for colors was linked to increased gray matter in the brain, according to one recent

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An Artist’s Brainstorm: Put Photos On Those Faceless Ebola Suits : NPR

This is an example of how a small addition to a working environment, even a scary working environment, can make things a little less scary.

Last summer, Mary Beth Heffernan, who is an art professor at Occidental College, became obsessed with Ebola — particularly the images of the health care workers in those protective suits, or PPE as they’re called for short.

“They looked completely menacing,” says Heffernan. “I mean they really made people look almost like storm troopers. I imagined what would it be like to be a patient? To not see a person’s face for days on end?”

And what really got Heffernan is that as far as she could tell, there was an easy fix.

“I found myself almost saying out loud: ‘Why don’t they put photos on the outside of the PPE? Why don’t they just put photos on?'”

Here was her idea: Snap a photo of the health worker with a big smile on their face. Hook up the camera to a portable printer and print out a stack of copies on large stickers. Then every time the worker puts on a protective suit they can slap one of their pictures on their chest, and patients can get a sense of the warm, friendly human underneath the suit.

via An Artist’s Brainstorm: Put Photos On Those Faceless Ebola Suits : Goats and Soda : NPR.

I agree with one of the commenters from the original story I would have liked to have heard a little bit more from the patients’ perspective, since the nurses and doctors all commented on its benefits. But overall I think this is great and wish more people would be willing to take risks like this to help, even if it doesn’t “change the world” it made the world, and in this case a scary, grueling, impoverished world, a little better.

Dutch nursing home offers rent-free housing to students

This is a great way to “lure” younger adults to engage with seniors. It’s potentially a bit gimmicky, but the rewards of giving back to your community, and the enrichment of people of both ages, is just phenomenal.

A nursing home in the Netherlands allows university students to live rent-free alongside the elderly residents, as part of a project aimed at warding off the negative effects of aging.

In exchange for small, rent-free apartments, the Humanitas retirement home in Deventer, Netherlands, requires students to spend at least 30 hours per month acting as “good neighbors,” Humanitas head Gea Sijpkes said in an email to PBS NewsHour.

Officials at the nursing home say students do a variety of activities with the older residents, including watching sports, celebrating birthdays and, perhaps most importantly, offer company when seniors fall ill, which helps stave off feelings of disconnectedness.

Both social isolation and loneliness in older men and women are associated with increased mortality, according to a 2012 report by the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

“The students bring the outside world in, there is lots of warmth in the contact,” Sijpkes said.

more via Dutch nursing home offers rent-free housing to students.

Google Maps Easter Egg Lets Users Play Pac-Man on Real Streets – CityLab

Gamification of at least a virtual space:

For a limited time, you can finally experience Pac-Man on your favorite (or least favorite) place to navigate IRL. One of the best navigational easter eggs ever, Google Maps is currently letting users experience the world through the eyes of a Pac-Man.

Ever wished Namco created a Pierre L’Enfant-version of the arcade game? Well, D.C.’s Logan Circle now has all the Pac-Dots your Pac-Gut can handle.

more via Google Maps Easter Egg Lets Users Play Pac-Man on Real Streets – CityLab.

Seattle’s Emerging EcoDistrict

scientiste:

Woo-hoo! More cool projects from Seattle focused on improving and enriching urban environments.

Originally posted on The Dirt:

eco1

eco2 Pollinator Pathway / Bergmann

EcoDistrict planning and design can accelerate local efforts to improve sustainability. EcoDistricts offer a framework through which communities can discuss, prioritize, and enact initiatives that address climate change — by providing clean energy, conserving wildlife habitat, and encouraging low-impact development — and also social equity. If more neighborhoods begin to adopt the EcoDistrict model — wherein a range of partner organizations work in concert — we could see stronger bottom-up pushes toward city-wide sustainability.

Since 2011, the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, which is funded by the Bullitt Foundation and led by Capitol Hill Housing, has sought to improve the sustainability of the community and the equity of its constituents. This EcoDistrict is partnering with the Seattle 2030 District, a high-performance business district in downtown Seattle, that aims to reduce carbon emissions 50 percent by 2030. In 2015, Seattle’s City Council formally…

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Artist Creates Water-Activated Street Art To Make People Smile On A Rainy Day | Bored Panda

It makes sense that this would be developed in Seattle, where it is wet a good portion of the year.

Like a new modern version of invisible ink, superhydrophobic coatings can also be used to create hidden street art that stays invisible until it gets wet. Peregrine Chuch, a Seattle-based street artist, created a series of public works of street art called Rainworks using the same sort of hydrophobic coatings that we saw being used in Germany to combat public urination.

Church creates the artwork spontaneously because he has been assured by the city authorities that what he is doing is legal – the coating is non-toxic, non-permanent, only sometimes visible, and his works don’t advertise anything. He says that, depending on how much the sidewalk in question is used, his pieces may last between 4 months and a year, but are most vivid within the first few weeks of application.

His works are diverse, and range from artistic drawings to fun and motivational messages to a hop-scotch game that can only be played when it’s wet.

more via Artist Creates Water-Activated Street Art To Make People Smile On A Rainy Day | Bored Panda.

Seattle Department of Transportation: Seattle Parklet Program & Streatery Pilot Program

Way to go Seattle!

After a successful year-and-a-half long pilot, we’re excited to announce that the Parklet Program is now a permanent program! This means that Seattle businesses and community groups have even more opportunities to enhance our streets with public spaces.

As part of this launch, we’re also rolling out a brand-new approach to activating our streets: the Streateries Pilot Program. What’s a “streatery” you ask? Streateries combine the best features of a parklet and a sidewalk café by allowing a restaurant, café, or bar to use a parking space to create outdoor seating for their customers during business hours (like a café) and for the public during non-business hours (like a parklet).

there is still time to sign up your company if you’re interested via Seattle Department of Transportation: Seattle Parklet Program & Streatery Pilot Program.

I look forward to seeing lots of little Parklets spring up around the city as we start to emerge from the winter wet and dark.