behavior · creativity · culture · environment · happiness · play

Karyn Lu: People & Places of Play – Creative Mornings Talk

This is an older talk, from 2013, but I loved seeing Karyn’s talk for Creative Mornings that discussed the value of adult play, providing some examples and play/art projects I hadn’t seen before, and especially in the Q&A section providing tips on how to become a play advocate in your 9-5 corporate job.

Check it out here:

Thank you to Creative Mornings for capturing this talk and sharing it publicly for everyone.

behavior · community · creativity · environment · happiness · health · play · Social

The 30-Day Tree Climbing Challenge is on!

I don’t normally promote my husband Rafe Kelley’s work with Evolve Move Play all that much, but this challenge is too good to pass up.

Starting on Arbor Day (but you can really start any time), Rafe is inviting people to climb a tree for 30 days, and tag their friends to climb three trees or donate to the Arbor Day Foundation, or plant a tree! Use the hashtag #treeclimb30 to tag your posts.

Rafe is doing this for many reasons, including…

  1. Promote outdoor physical play and movement,
  2. Foster a love of trees and the outdoors,
  3. Get people playing in their local communities,
  4. Remind people that it’s okay to climb trees, and
  5. To have fun!

This is an international push, bringing in participants from Europe as well, including certified Evolve Move Play (EMP) coach Ben Medder, based just outside of London (UK).

He is also trying to motivate participating with prizes, so stay tuned to his channels for more details:

So get out there, climb a tree (or plant a tree), tag a friend, and get moving!

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A rare glimpse into a messy oasis of adventure play

Great couple of showcases about playing outside and letting kids explore with various materials, their bodies, and just letting them get messy. 🙂

Rethinking Childhood

Adventure play is enjoying a moment. And at the centre of this is The Land, an adventure playground in Wrexham, North Wales. So it is great to see a 14-minute documentary feature on The Land – from US filmmaker Erin Davis – being made freely available online. Click on the image below to watch it.

The Land video screengrab

It was Hanna Rosin’s 2014 Atlantic magazine cover story ‘The Overprotected Kid’ that thrust The Land into the public eye. It also features prominently in the new book Messy by Tim Harford, writer and self-styled ‘undercover economist’ (and front man for one of my favourite BBC Radio 4 shows, More or Less). Harford’s take is revealing:

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March Mammal Madness 2017: School Science Classes Watch Their Brackets | NPR

This. Is. Awesome! Students are tapping into the playful aspects of science and learning.

This is March Mammal Madness. It’s a competition that has been playing out online and in hundreds of classrooms over the past month. Real animals wage fictional battles, while students use science — a lot of it — to try to predict the winner.March Mammal Madness was created five years ago by Katie Hinde, an evolutionary biologist at Arizona State University, though now, she says, the competition depends on a whole team of volunteer scientists and conservationists: biologists, animal behaviorists, paleoanthropologists, marine biologists.Hinde’s team meets every year for a Selection Sunday of its own. Team members pick the animals that will compete and even decide who will win, though they keep it a secret. That’s because a whole lot of research has to be done.Each scientist is assigned a specific battle, then studies up and writes a battle story based on facts.

“Then the battles are live-tweeted as a dynamic, play-by-play story, much like someone would watch a basketball game,” Hinde says.

Those tweets link to scientific articles, videos, photos, fossil records — whatever the team can use to drop knowledge into the story. That’s why so many teachers, including Michelle Harris, have begun using the brackets in class.

Playing with ideas is the whole point of learning! This is absolutely something I’ve seen PhD’s do sitting around having a pint together, chatting about animal life and death scenarios. It pulls on so many skills – critical thinking, learning and retaining knowledge about science, creativity, telling a story, collaboration, and more, all under the guise of play!

My money is on the slow loris. 😉

Source: March Mammal Madness 2017: School Science Classes Watch Their Brackets : NPR Ed : NPR

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Eight new installations now on display in South Lake Union

Great opportunity to engage with local artists for free in an accessible way.

Storefronts

Shunpike proudly presents eight new installations in South Lake Union as part of its acclaimed Storefronts program, on display until July 2017. Examining the exchanges between teachers and pupils, the collaboration between artist and nature, the origin of dragons, the installations span from an accumulation of marks, of ribbon miles, and unifying markers.



ARTIST: Amanda Manitach

WORK: Frances Farmer Defends Herself

LOCATION: Harrison Storefronts

Manitach_Harrison Storefront East_FrancesIn Manitach’s large-scale wallpaper drawings, text melts into vibrating, hallucinatory design sourced from a 1885 French wallpaper sample. The pieces harken to Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.” In creating them, she invokes a similar physicality to the story’s protagonist, generating drawings up to 30 feet long made with a 0.5 mm mechanical pencil. The pieces are smudged, worn and covered with fingerprints where the artist’s body has been. “Frances Farmer Defends Herself” (graphite on paper, 52 x 360 inches) contains a quote by Seattle-born film…

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Announcing a new project to build the case for more child-friendly cities

This is a great research project, I look forward to following the research and the results.

Rethinking Childhood

What does it mean for a city to take child-friendliness seriously? What makes decision makers put real momentum and energy behind the vision of making the urban environment work better for children and young people? What does it take to move beyond fine words, small pilot projects and one-off participation events?

I am very pleased and honoured to announce that, thanks to a travelling fellowship from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, I will be visiting a half-a-dozen cities in Northern Europe and Canada to get under the skin of this topic. One key goal is to explore the relevance of child-friendly urban planning to urban policy in the UK.

The fellowship will take in four cities – Freiburg, Antwerp, Rotterdam and Vancouver – that have led the way in putting into practice the maxim of Bogotá mayor Enrique Peñalosa, that the child is an indicator species for cities. With these cities…

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Toybombing: Coffeeshop planter

Started my morning early at my favorite coffee shop. Left a buddy. #toybombing #seattle #dinosaur

Source: Beth Kelley on Instagram: “Started my morning early at my favorite coffee shop. Left a buddy. #toybombing #seattle #dinosaur #toybomb”

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This Is Your Brain On Walking. Any Questions?

A great meditation on walking from a good friend of mine.
My husband and I took our own short getaway this past weekend, and other than sit around reading books and drinking tea, we walked. We walked on quiet country roads, we walked along the tops of dykes, we walked a small portion of a small mountain.
We felt the different breezes blowing in our faces. We smelled the salty marshes of the flats where the ocean meets the farmlands the sea air blowing in off the Sound, and the cedars and firs on the mountain awakening from winter. We heard and saw various raptors, song birds, and water fowl co-mingling. And in just those few short miles we accumulated over the weekend, we felt more refreshed than we had in awhile. Even just a short walk in nature can do wonders.

camino times two

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I came across this story last week about Vancouver author John Izzo. A popular author, business speaker, and consultant, Izzo had a successful career writing and teaching about how to live and work better.

But he wasn’t happy.

So where did he go to rediscover himself? The Camino, of course.

“Izzo hiked in Spain for 29 days and found he was happier when he learned to surrender to circumstances, rather than hooking his happiness to outcomes.”

(Click here for the whole article)

(Sounds a lot like my Practice Acceptance mantra.)

Izzo isn’t pointing out something new. It’s been 2400 years since Hippocrates said “Walking is a man’s best medicine.”

Modern medicine still agrees:

Something as simple as walking to work makes you happier.

Committing to walking outside, in nature, has a host of physical benefits.

Walking specifically in nature, away from cities and traffic, has measurable effects on mental health. 

Something…

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How to Play-Fight with your Kids


After posting a blog about why I choose to play fight with my kids, I got a great response from parents and non-parents alike. What surprised me however was how many people – moms, uncles/aunts, non-kid affiliated adults – reached out to me and asked, “How do I even get started?”

It turns out a lot of people never play-fought as a kids…
They were told to never hit, never push, never poke.
Or they just never had a good example from their parents or older siblings or relatives.

Or as parents now, they have played with older kids but when they try to do the same thing with their little one she just cries and runs away.

That makes me so sad. There are so many benefits to play-fighting as a kid, and as a grown-up. Both my husband and I are huge advocates of physical play, including roughhousing. Play-fighting doesn’t have to be rough and tumble all the time either; there are some great games that involve the same elements as physical play but are more gentler on the body than traditional wrestling or punching games (pretending to be movable mannequins is one of my favorites).

Based on my research of studying physical play behaviors, and my own experience with my kids, not to mention observing my husband coach and facilitate grown-ups on how to play for the past 10+ years, here is what I’ve found to be good tips to get started:

Let the kids lead: Young animals of all species, including kids, are naturally the best players in the entire animal kingdom. It is how they learn about their world. So let them lead. You can come up with the game, but often times the kids already have a game in mind. Or, give them a gentle poke or push and see how they respond. Sometimes they might not be in the mood, but sometimes they will take your cue and run with it.
Anecdotally, I’ve noticed often girls will be done rough-playing sooner than boys or need more breaks, whereas little boys will often go and go until they start to cry, so don’t be surprised if either happens.

Match their strength…: When we see big dogs and little dogs play together, often the big dog will handicap themselves; they won’t push as hard, or they’ll get down on the ground so the little dog can actually reach them. Similarly, match your play partner’s strength. Push only has hard as they push, or hit only as hard as they hit.

…But show off yours too: Of course you can and should try doing lifts, carries, spins, gentle knock downs, and other things that require you to have more strength. That’s part of the fun of playing with someone bigger than you!

Let them win (sometimes): Similar to the dog play example above, if you want the game to keep going then make sure they’re having fun, which means letting them get a few punches in on you or knocking you down. (If you aren’t comfortable yet with falling down, think of this as a great way to practice slowly falling down in a safe way.) But that also means you get to win sometimes too; don’t be a punching bag, but it’s all about taking turns so you are both having fun.

Communicate: Check-in, see how they are doing. Ask if they want to switch up the game, or if you’re ready to switch it up or take a break, tell them. Which leads to…


Teach them no
: The whole joy of play-fighting is the give and the take (have I said this enough times yet?). When it’s not fun anymore, both you AND your child get to say no, stop, time out, or I’m done. At any time. And, as the grown-up, you also need to be able to read your play-partner’s cues and tell when they’re not having a good time, even if they’re not specifically saying no.

Tickling is a great example. A lot of people see ticking as “harmless fun” and it’s tricky when a little kid is laughing and saying no at the same time, but it can be quite scary for a kid (or a grown-up) if they mean no and it isn’t respected. But, it’s also a great way to build trust with your play partner, whether they are a kid or a grown-up. Now, I HATE being tickled! HATE it! No tickles ever, thank you! Ever since I was little. My mom has stories of her trying to tickle me as a tiny baby, and even so much as putting her fingers out to say “coochie coochie coo” and I would just freak out! And she listened. So no tickles. As a grown-up I have not always had partners that understood that tickling is not fun for me, or when to stop tickling (as in immediately). But thanks to my mom I knew that I could choose to say no and that needed to be respected.

The same goes for tickling your kid; if they say stop, even if they’re laughing, stop. If they want more, they will ask for it (kids are good at that sort of thing).
And this can be expanded to all kinds of physical play; we need to learn how to listen to our bodies and our limits. If we get scared or frustrated, we need to learn to take a step back and regroup, and that we’re safe to do so. Physical play with a safe person like your parents is a great place to practice that.

Have fun!: In the end, that’s what this is all about. Sometimes you’re not in the mood to wrestle, and sometimes you are, or maybe you’ve got knee pain and can’t get on the ground, so just go with what feels right in the moment. Make up stories (“we’re bears, rawr!”), give yourself challenges (you can’t move from one spot; you can only use one arm), and just see what happens.

There are lots of different fun games you can try out with your kids and prompt you both to play more. Here is a great example of kid-led play fighting:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqFJEQopKdY

I’d love to hear some of the games you have come up with with your little play partners, so share them in the comments below.

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Harnessing the Power of Nature to Improve Our Cities

Adding to my Reading List.

(yes, even the city codes. That might seem a little dry to non-landscape designers, but they are important to understand as far as how to work with cities to promote and integrate more greenery).

THE DIRT

Handbook of Biophilic City Planning & Design / Island Press Handbook of Biophilic City Planning & Design / Island Press

People feel happier, healthier, and more social when they engage with nature. Their cognitive abilities go up and stress levels go down. So why is nature so often thought to be found only “out there” in the wilderness, or perhaps suburbia? For Timothy Beatley, a professor at the University of Virginia, nature should be found everywhere, but especially in cities. Cities must remain dense and walkable, but they can be unique, memorable places only when they merge with nature. If well planned and designed, a city’s forests, waterfronts, parks, gardens, and streets can make out-sized contributions to the health and well-being of everyone who lives there. In his latest excellent book, the Handbook of Biophilic City Planning & Design, Beatley brings together all the established science, the important case studies, the innovative code and design practices from around the…

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