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!

health · learning · mental health · Social

How the cost of daycare and ineffective regulations are bad for businesses

Preface to anyone who has children in a corporate-owned daycare that could be encompassed in the below description: I in no way mean to critique you or your child-rearing decisions, I am criticizing the system that has built up around these behemoth corporations that are more interested in making money rather than caring for kids.

Kids play outside with a throwable computer
In Washington State, small in-home day-cares are getting pushed out of business.

The push for large corporate, academics-based daycare and preschools in the U.S. to monopolize the industry and childhood development practices has gone too far!

My daycare provider this month had to bump up her prices 150% due to new regulations passed by legislators that were pushed through by big daycare corporations; supported with the sole intention of driving smaller in-home daycares like my provider’s out of business.

This kind of “pay to play” legislation is not only unethical, this particular one is supporting a system of large, low-personalization, academics-driven style of daycare that is not only inappropriate for children but downright HARMFUL to their development. Eight-month-olds do not need to be studying the alphabet! They need to be playing blocks with their friends and learning colors and counting through unstructured play time, not forced circle time and flash cards!

It is better for children to have smaller groups of kids to play together, with regular, consistent caretakers that can provide personal touch and unstructured play time.

This kind of system is also a HUGE burden on working parents. This kind of price increase – $100’s of dollars in my daycare’s case – is unmanageable for so many working families, and the high prices of childcare means that it pushes hundreds of thousands of well-educated, highly motivated parents out of the workforce during their prime working years. In-home daycares are also more flexible on hours and more understanding if a parent is 5 minutes late with pick-up.

This is also incredibly anti-small business; my daycare provider is strongly considering retirement after this last batch of legislation and required price increases, not to mention potential loss of revenue due to parents pulling their kids out of her daycare because they can’t afford it. I can only imagine other daycare providers are struggling with the same dilemma.

I support paying higher prices for higher quality child care, but this price increase is purely due to new legislations, fees, and bureaucracy that can be absorbed by larger corporations but not smaller businesses. I support safety and regulations of childcare, but not to the point where businesses are required to feed children  only cow or soy milk (yes, that is a rule in Washington State).

If the government is really interested in creating a strong, resilient, competitive workforce, AND/OR is really interested in supporting small businesses, this is NOT the way to do it!

As soon as I figure out which congress person to write to I will do it and share it here! If there is specific regulations you are aware of that are impacting costs or food options, or even play time, please comment and post them below, so when we write our emails, postcards, or angry YouTube video rants we’ll know exactly which regulations to call out as unjust.

In the meantime, please give your daycare provider a hug, no matter who they are, and let them know we care.

architecture · behavior · play · Social · technology

“Pokémon Go” Is Quietly Helping People Fall In Love With Their Cities

I have been fascinated with the incredible popularity of Pokemon Go. Some people are seeing it as an “annoying” new game, but I see it as an amazingly powerful tool to trick people into exercising and getting outside, and as author Mark Wilson observes, discovering your city.

In our collective hunt for silly cartoon monsters, Pokémon Go players are discovering history and architecture left and right. Users described their discoveries over the weekend, from Korean pagodas, to a Donner Party memorial in California, to the urban landscape of Perth at night, all documented on Twitter.

Read the full article at: “Pokémon Go” Is Quietly Helping People Fall In Love With Their Cities | Co.Design | business + design

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behavior · community · creativity · emotion · happiness · language · Nature · play · Social · writing

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.

community · creativity · Social

Toybombing – Mountain Goat Kid Traversing the Urban Canyons

https://instagram.com/mbethkelley/
A little plastic goat views the valley below his window sill.

I took a couple of weeks off, but I am now getting back in to taking little toys out into the world and taking pictures of them in unique environments, creating little vignettes in the wild.

I’ve upped my game a bit and am going to start leaving them out for people to find. The tricky thing, and that adds to the fun, is there’s no way to control how long  these toys will stay put before people notice and decide they want to play with them themselves. This one was placed somewhere near Pioneer Square.

You can see some of my previous toy-bombings here and here. And of course my travel bunny buddy. Or just follow me on Instagram.

Another shot for scale
Another shot for scale
anthropology · architecture · behavior · community · creativity · culture · environment · health · mental health · psychology · Social

To make our cities inclusive, we need to make them playful again | CityMetric

To make our cities inclusive, we need to make them playful again | CityMetric

A million times yes! This article focuses on one of my biggest pet peeves and challenges as a play advocate; play not being taken seriously.

The author, Hilary O’Shaughnessy, and also the producer of the Playable City Award, discusses her play competition and the usual rub of people asking whether this is really all “worth it.” I’m quoting over half of her article, but she very eloquently covers an entire blog post I was planning on writing (I will still write it, I promise):

Amongst the usual squeals of anticipation [around the competition], there are questions about the value of these ideas to the “real” world. Fun is all well and good – but surely fun is the stuff we get to when the grown up work of building hospitals and roads is done with? When we’ve fixed the economy, let’s play. Cities are full of problems, why are we not fixing them first?

Herein lies the real issue. When we see play simply as fun, a whimsy for those of us lucky enough to have the time to engage in it, we underestimate the transformative power of play and it’s role in our lives.

Fixing problems, making our living and working spaces more livable and resilient, designing better cities, starts at every level with the people that Iive in those cities. Increasingly we are realising that our cities are designed for exclusivity, so it makes sense that we don’t feel part of shaping the future. This is revealed in the language we use to describe our relationships to the services and organisations that our cites are made of. We want them to fix it, they don’t want us to have a say, they give money to them to exclude us: the language is divisive and separating, and that’s the problem. Even the descriptions of the projects fail to deliver what they promise, because a playable city is experienced, not described.

The idea of what our cities should mean, how public money is spent, what we imagine as good for us and who is involved in designing them, is only ever addressed when we have a complaint or we feel excluded. We talk to the city council when the road is road is torn up or the lights won’t come on. We complain that our voices are unheard, but we never seize opportunities to speak, fearing that if we do we will be ignored or shouted down by the loudest ones.

This feeling of separation cannot be undone overnight. We need new approaches, new tools, and new ways to talk to one another about how to live together in cities.

From a different article, but an example of using play as political protest: a device placed in large potholes that tweets whiny complaints when it is run over in order to publicly shame govt. into action.

Conversations about the future, about how we want to live, have to begin from a level playing field, and crucially that level playing field may not be where we expect. Play is a leveler: when we play, we play as humans, first. Traditional status markers like wealth, celebrity, or qualifications are not really much use when invited to dance with your shadow or conduct lights like a demi-god.

Addressing problems and finding solutions that work for us all begin with inviting everyone into conversation. Play as unexpected interventions in familiar places act as invitations to connect, an offer to begin to talk about those parts of our cities that we feel excluded from. To new eyes and ears, some projects can seem esoteric – but that is because we have become numbed to dull public announcements, badly designed flyers and clunky websites which act as information dumps that no-one reads, let alone takes as an invitation to work together. Yet, this is important stuff: we need to talk about the kind of future we want or it be will be decided for us while we look the other way.

via To make our cities inclusive, we need to make them playful again | CityMetric.

You can read about this year’s shortlist and the final winner at the Watershed website.

community · health · Nature · play · Social · technology

Draw A Walking Route In Whatever Shape You Want | PSFK

Looking to have a little fun with your walk? Now you can use mapping technology to do so…

The Trace app will let you turn a sketch on your smartphone into a physical walking route around a city. You can share your route with a friend, and the recipient gets step-by-step directions. Eventually, the app will reveal the shape on a map.

The walk creator can add signposts along the way—images, audio recordings, messages—which will pop-up at specific places in-route. Walkers can begin their walk anywhere in the city, and pick the duration of their walk. The app adjusts the size of the shape accordingly.

Sixteen walkers in Seattle, Boston and Chicago tested out Trace for a week, drawing over 150 shapes. They sent the walks to friends or tried the routes themselves. The results were presented in a study in Seoul, at the Association for Computing Machinery’s CHI conference last month.

more via Draw A Walking Route In Whatever Shape You Want.

creativity · design · play · Social

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.

environment · play · Social

City-wide public art project invites residents and visitors to talk to Austin’s street furniture | AustinTexas.gov – The Official Website of the City of Austin

Austin is a city with a strong arts culture, and is continuing to showcase that:

The hidden life of Austin’s street furniture will come to light next month with the launch of Hello Lamp Post, an international art project created by London-based designers Pan Studio which invites people to strike up conversations with familiar objects around the city using text messaging.

Hello Lamp Post is a city-wide platform for play that allows participants to talk to the city’s infrastructure and share stories using the text messaging function on any mobile phone – no smart phones required. People can interact with any object they choose, in any part of the city, because the project utilizes the thousands of pre-existing identifier codes that label items of street furniture, including (but not limited to) lamp posts, mail boxes, moontowers, utility boxes, manholes, or telephone poles

more via City-wide public art project invites residents and visitors to talk to Austin’s street furniture | AustinTexas.gov – The Official Website of the City of Austin.

If you are in or near Austin, the public is invited to a free kick-off event, complete with drinks and bites, February 12, 4-6 p.m. at Republic Square Park, 422 Guadalupe Street.

A short video about the project, starring the streets of Austin, is available now at http://www.hellolamppostaustin.com.

behavior · community · happiness · hugs · play · Social

McDonald’s will be accepting hugs, calls to mom, and dance moves as payment

OK, so YES it is being sponsored by a huge megacorporation. YES it is a total gimmick. But it is such a COOL gimmick.

“That will be five hugs, please.”

Randomly selected McDonald’s customers will have the opportunity to pay for their meals with various tasks — such as doing a dance or calling their mom — between Feb. 2 and Feb. 14. The deal is outlined in a Super Bowl ad from the company, above, which will air on Sunday but is already posted on its YouTube page.

So, for example, breakfast might cost a fist bump to a McDonald’s crew member; lunch could be paid for with a call to a loved one; and dinner could go for a hug to a family member. But there will only be 100 winners at each store.

more via McDonald’s will be accepting hugs and dance moves as payment. (Mashable)

Last week I also posted about a major paint company that promoted their paint via enabling the handicapped in China to blow up paint balloons onto a canvas.

While to some it may feel “icky” to have mega-sized companies counting this kind of self-congratulating promotion as “spreading the love” or even “charity work,” frankly I am just happy that anyone, either an individual or a giant corporation, is taking steps to making their spaces a little bit happier and more enriching. Companies spend millions of dollars to make their customers happy, so why not spend a little bit of that on a smile?

When has a corporation made your day better, either through a promotion or just because an employee took some time to acknowledge you? Leave it in the comments below.