Google works to restore wildlife habitat in office parks in the middle of Silicon Valley

This is fantastic! In many ways commercial parks like tech campuses, manufacturing, and storage lots are ideal places to create nature sanctuaries for animals, both migratory and local creatures like frogs, butterflies, and song birds. It’s secure at night with almost no human activity, and less traffic during the day overall.

​(photo credit: Fast Company)

A century and a half ago, the area that is now the Google campus in Mountain View, California—sandwiched between the bay and oak savannahs—was made up of wildflower-filled meadows, wetlands, scattered oaks, and sprawling willow groves.

Part of the land was later farmed, and by the 1990s it became an office park. In 2003, Google moved in. Now, the company is rebuilding pieces of the former landscape, with a vision of helping reconnect critical habitat for species like snowy egrets and burrowing owls throughout all of Silicon Valley.

Full article:

These restoration efforts are also better for the humans living inside the buildings to look out of their offices or go out for a lunch break and see a truly vibrant ecosystem of native plants and animals right there in front of them. The increase of mixed flora is also better for filtering pollutants caused by all the vehicles coming and going every day to these sites.

It is also easier maintenance and cost to plant native species rather than try to maintain exotic plants or single rows of trees.

There are many tech companies expanding on both the east and west coasts of North America, and I truly hope they take Google’s example to restore, maintain, or increase the native biodiversity around their campuses. Even a little bit can really go a long way.


The value of employee artwork in office buildings

At my work we are currently trying to get an "employee" artwork exhibit up and running. It would showcase different types of art or artists every two months.

This isn’t just some vanity project to show off how amazing our designers are. (Although from a corporate, showing-off-to-clients point of view that’s great too.)

For one thing, we aren’t just asking the designers to participate. Everyone is welcome. Researchers, marketers, engineers.

People who make rings as a hobby. People who crochet. People who take amazing photos while on vacation.

Obviously we aren’t the first company to come up with this idea.

Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook , and other large tech companies do as well.

Some Deloitte offices have a rotating installation…

(Photo credit: me)

Some airports are getting in on the action…

​(Photo: Bernadette Garcia at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport art show)

And of course numerous universities have employee and student art installed all over their campuses, and not just the obligatory shows put on by arts professors and students.

There are good arguments for why offices and work spaces need to incorporate more art into their spaces in general, and in particular filling the walls with employee art work.

For one thing, it lets the employees’ "outside" life come in to a space where they spend the majority of their waking hours. This gives them a sense of pride of their off-hours work, as well as putting more investment into their paid work.

It’s a great way to get to know your coworkers better. I had no idea for years that someone made jewelry as a hobby, or that another employee made hand-thrown mugs for all of his teammates one Christmas.

Showcasing employee-made art also helps promote overall wellness. One way is from the office space itself; there is a large body of science that demonstrates that people are more productive, happier, and less stressed when they are surrounded by things that make them happy, varying shapes and colors, and natural objects – preferably nature itself but even pictures of rocks or plants or the ocean. Art pieces can provide all of those things inside the work environment.

Another way it promotes wellness from a therapeutic perspective. Art is very cathartic for people, both as the maker and as the viewer, and while many companies pay lip-service to supporting mental and emotional health for their employees, this is a way to physically demonstrate that you the employer is serious about promoting work-life balance.

Hospitals and clinics will often display employee art for many of the reasons stated above.

(Carilion Clinic Art Show: Employee’s child’s submission "Robot Monster")

So our Art Committee will keep pushing forward to get the opportunity to showcase the amazing artistic capabilities of everyone here in our office. I hope you do too!


Parks Without Borders: Creating a Seamless Public Realm

A very important discussion of how to make parks feel like part of the city and not just pieces of land tucked away for kids or dogs.
Even in a lush city like Seattle, where I live, some of the parks are integrated into people’s every day commutes or habits, while others are beautiful but tucked away and hard to get to. They are slowly moving to add more centralized open spaces for communities as they see the economic benefits like increase in real estate values, as well as events like farmer’s markets and other festivals.

The Dirt

Rocky Run Park / Flickr Rocky Run Park, Arlington, Virginia / Flickr

“Parks are not islands that exist in isolation, they are connected to streets, sidewalks, and public spaces,” said NYC parks commissioner Mitchell Silver. “It’s our goal to create a seamless public realm for New York City.” The Parks Without Borders discussion series kicked off last week to a standing-room only crowd in Central Park’s Arsenal gallery. The enthusiasm generated by the Parks Without Borders summit held last spring inspired Silver to build the momentum with a series of shorter discussions. For this one, park leaders from three different cities, each with a uniquely successful park system, were invited to address the question: How can innovative park planning create a more seamless public realm?

Every day, 25,000 people go to work at the Pentagon, and the majority of these people live in Arlington, Virginia. How has a county that is both transit-oriented and a…

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Why I Play-Fight with my Kids

In some ways this seems like an overly obvious, unnecessary post. Of course parents play fight with their kids! Right? Yet I am surprised by how few MOMS play fight with their kids.

I do. And I love it! I didn’t think I would enjoy it as much as I do, but I do. Here are my top reasons why.

1. It teaches them body awareness – How hard do I have to push to make something happen? How strong am I before I get pushed over? How do I get myself back upright? How hard is too hard to hit? Also being aware of how strong they are now versus a month from now is important too as they grow and get bigger and stronger; I’ve known too many bigger little kids that don’t know their own strength.

2. It teaches them spatial awareness – How far away is that body I am playing with? Where are my legs and arms while I’m wrestling? Oops, now I’m upside down, how does that make me feel?

3. It makes them feel loved and given attention.

4. It’s fun! I’ll bet almost everyone at one time or another has played slug bug, tickle time, or wrestled with your sibling, or started a real fight with your sibling that by the end you two were both on the floor laughing.

5. They feel safe acting out being big and strong and knocking me down or punching me and knowing that I can take it.

6. Kids who play fight with their dads are being shown that men are big and strong. For somewhat feminist but mostly totally selfish reasons, I want them to know that women (i.e. ME!) can be big, strong, and tough too.

7. Along those same lines, grown-ups who play fight with kids are demonstrating that when people play or play fight, they are being respectful of each other’s boundaries, and if you don’t feel safe you can and should ask the other person to stop. If the other person doesn’t respect your boundaries then kids learn that’s not okay and they get time out or kids or grown-ups stop playing with them. This is a super-critical skill that is missing in so much rhetoric, both physical and verbal, in our society today.

8. As their mom, it is so fun to watch my kids get stronger, faster, more coordinated, and more creative in their physical play. They mix strategies, including saying silly things to catch me off guard, which is all part of the art of play.

9. Finally, I want to promote physical play of all kinds with kids and grown-ups alike. Whether that’s boxing, hiking, jump rope, tricycles, making forts, tree-climbing, or just going for an exploratory walk around the neighborhood, I support it.

I’m sure there are other reasons I’m forgetting, but those are my main ones.

My husband teaches natural movement classes, and before that parkour and martial arts. Slowly more women are joining the adult classes in all of those fields. But especially in the kids’ classes, the moms are just as likely to join their kids, but almost none participate given the opportunity. Why?! Some women (and men) don’t like physical contact activities. And that’s totally fine. But more often than not women are intimidated. I say no more fear! Get in there and push someone.

Why do you play fight with your kids? Or why don’t you? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.


Seattle Celebrates “Neighbor Day” on February 11 Through Random Acts of Kindness

Seattle, sometimes I love you!

We invite all Seattle residents to celebrate Neighbor Day on February 11 by indulging in random acts of kindness.

Neighbor Day is a special day set aside to reach out to neighbors, make new friends, and express thanks to those who help make your neighborhood a great place to live.

Residents, businesses, or community groups are all encouraged to participate however they like. The main goal is simply to reach out and connect with your neighbors through generosity.

Here are some ways you can be a part of Neighbor Day:

  • Do something nice for a neighbor: take them to coffee, clean up their yard, bake them some cookies, invite them for a walk.
  • Organize a neighborhood potluck, open house, or work party.

It can be as big or simple as you want. Need an idea? We have an extensive list to help inspire you. Want to know how your local business or community group can participate? Here are some ideas! If your event is open to the public, you can post it to our online events calendar. Use our flyer to post around your neighborhood or work area to remind people of the day. Have your children color our Neighbor Day coloring sheet and give it to a neighbor. Share a “great neighbor” story or tell us how you are celebrating by tagging us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and using #neighborday.

More at: Neighbor Day – Neighborhoods |

community · creativity · design

A Guerrilla Florist Is Putting Flower Beards on Statues | The Creators Project

To draw attention to historical monuments all over Belgium, florist Geoffroy Mottart stages herbaceous interventions by adding botanical beards and verdant hairdos to statues of luminaries and potentates like Victor Rousseau and King Leopold II. This clash between history and brightly-colored floral facial hair lends the otherwise-somber effigies an air of tender whimsy.

Mottart chooses the flowers for each sculpture with care, taking into account his subject’s features, the statue’s color and material, its location, and the season.

More at: A Guerrilla Florist Is Putting Flower Beards on Statues | The Creators Project


Alessandra Orofino: It’s our city. Let’s fix it | TED Talk |

Urban activist Alessandra Orofino thinks that can change, using a mix of tech and old-fashioned human connection. Sharing examples from her hometown of Rio, she says: “It is up to us to decide whether we want schools or parking lots, recycling projects or construction sites, cars or buses, loneliness or solidarity.”

Great talk on the value and power of getting the community back involved with the community.


People are leaving compliments all over San Francisco and making others smile – SFGate

Signs from #thecomplimentproject have been popping up around San Francisco
Signs from #thecomplimentproject have been popping up around San Francisco. Photo: SFGATE

When the US is trying to figure itself out, acts of kindness and community go a long way, no matter what your political persuasion.

Kindhearted souls are leaving compliments all over San Francisco this week and making others smile.

The simple signs, printed on 81/2-by-11-inch white paper and taped onto lampposts, feature positive, feel-good messages: “Your Smile Is Beautiful,” “You Bring Joy to Those Around You” and “You Are Perfect as You Are.” Signs from #thecomplimentproject have been popping up around San Francisco.

They’re designed like the charmingly old-fashioned signs tacked on coffee shop bulletin boards, advertising violin lessons or cat-sitting with phone numbers hanging from the bottom that you can tear off and take with you.

The signs are the brainchild of S.F. local and Good Samaritan Anna Sergeeva, 26, who started what she’s calling the Compliment Project to spread good cheer. On her website, you can download compliment posters and print them to post in your own neighborhood.

Source SFGate: People are leaving compliments all over San Francisco and making others smile – SFGate

According the the SF Gate, there have been recent reports of these all over the world.

Have you seen these in your local community? Tell us about it in the comments below. Or, download a sheet from their website and post it somewhere, and tell us where to look.

The Compliment Project sheets


Animal Shelter Partners With Elderly Care Facility To Save Both Orphaned Kittens And Elders

Another great example of how two communities in need can help and support each other. Everyone needs to feel wanted or helpful, whether they are 3 or 103.

When an animal shelter in Arizona needed extra help taking care of the newborn kittens, they made an unexpected decision and turned to a senior care facility for help. “

To some, it may seem peculiar at first: Residents who are in need of around-the-clock care themselves, given the task to care for these young kittens,” says Catalina Springs Memory Care Executive Director Sharon Mercer. “But there are skills, emotions, and needs that do not just leave a person with Dementia or Alzheimer’s. The desire to give love and receive love remains.”

The program who was created by the health services director Rebecca Hamilton. In addition to caring for the elders, the woman also volunteers to foster felines. She noticed that taking care of cats was bringing her a lot of joy and happiness, and knew she had to share it with the seniors.The initiative proved to be a success, as the overall condition of both the kittens and the elderly has improved.

More: Animal Shelter Partners With Elderly Care Facility To Save Both Orphaned Kittens And Elders | Bored Panda