Too often cars ignore crosswalks, causing dangerous environments for walkers and bikers. Painted crosswalks have been found to increase safety AND add aesthetics to a normally fairly mundane part of the urban landscape. It can help add identifiers to neighborhoods and help promote the neighborhood’s culture.
Bulgarian artist Christo Guelov is turning crossings in Madrid into colorful pieces of art as part of his project called Funnycross. Using striking colors and geometric designs, Guelov breathes life into otherwise stale public installations. “Funnycross uses zebra crossings to intervene in the urban landscape,” writes the artist. “The metaphor “A bridge between two shores” is the starting point of this artistic intervention.”
U.K.-based photographer Andrew Whyte shows us the world through the lens of a small artist in a new photo series called “The Legographer.” These expertly composed photos, which Whyte took on his iPhone every day for a year, feature a Lego Man, rocking a Lego knit cap instead of the famous bowl cut, lugging around a Lego camera and taking pictures that we will never see. Despite his diminutive size, this little guy seems to have had some big adventures. He scales buildings, he’s chased by a hermit crab, and slips on a giant (to him) banana peel. You know, typical photographer stuff.
I am always inspired by these kinds of exercises in playfulness and just remembering to view the world from a different angle from time to time.
A week ago I got to participate in a 7-day movement experience. Not a fitness camp or sports camp, or dance seminar or MMA workshop. Instead it was a collective gathering of 30 individuals with multiple movement backgrounds coming together to train, learn, and collaborate on understanding movement and how to push our bodies in a healthy way.
This event was designed for professional movers – dancers, fighters, clowns, capoeiristas, tree climbers, traceurs, and more. But what I took away from this experience as essentially a non-mover with a 9-5 desk job was just how accessible movement really is for all of us. How it does not have to be a scary, grueling, sweaty, or complicated thing. It does not have to break your body, but instead can heal it. Movement is innately fun and enjoyable for humans, yet somehow we have forgotten that.
This week-long workshop brought together coaches from all movement backgrounds who had all come across the same question: why wasn’t their practice fun anymore? Why did they feel constrained, injured, or simply broken? All of them had gone on different journeys but had all come to the same conclusions of using movement as joy, as exploration, as celebration, as a way to communicate with others and the world.
Out in the hills of western Massachusetts, near the Deer Hill State Reservation, Kelly Bitov, Aaron Cantor, and Jared Williams organized the M.O.B.I. Camp – Movement Orientation and Body Intelligence.
This was truly a bit of an expedition into the unknown for me, not just in the location but what a non-mover like me would and could do.
Single-handing it with two toddlers, car seats in tow, we flew from Seattle, through Boston Logan Airport, and thanks to a generous M.O.B.I. Camp participant carpooling us 2.5 hours west, we arrived in the peaceful quiet of Nine Mountain Retreats.
For seven days we and about 30 other people made food as a community, explored movement as a community, and slept under one roof or nearby in tents.
We would meet every morning at 8am on the deck and start moving, mostly outside, and basically not stop until bed. There were breaks in between workshops, but there was always some movement challenge or game to try in between class, helping with meals and clean-up, re-filling the water cooler, or in my case chasing the kids around, and chasing or carrying them up and down two flights of stairs.
The one core element that I noticed about the entire week was how every single teacher, regardless of their background or emphasis, had one underlying criteria to their movement: PLAY!
Each one of them had the same overarching instructions: Explore! Try this! Be open to new experiences! Don’t worry about looking wrong or silly, as long as your intention is real. We are all here doing this single practice together and trying new things together. Exploration is scary but necessary.
All of these teachers shared a similar story of evolution – they had trained deeply in one or two or more systems, and found each lacking, either missing something they craved or disallowing things for seemingly arbitrary reasons or worse breaking down their bodies and feeling worse after doing a movement practice that was supposed to make them feel better.
So often physical training and movement has been focused on goals – lift this much weight, run this fast, point your toes just so. By stripping all of that away – helped in large part by stripping away the gym or classroom and just being outside – people were invited to try new things, explore new paths, and mostly just remember that movement is supposed to be fun and enjoyable and a celebration of what our bodies can do.
For me, someone who is very goal oriented or achievement oriented, it can be hard to let go of that and just be a novice, especially when I am the “only” novice, surrounded by professional movers. There was even a time mid-week where I cried myself to sleep because I caught a glimpse of myself in a video looking totally awkward. BUT, I came back to class the next day, and for the first time I noticed other professional movers looking or feeling awkward in new types of movement they had never tried before. But they did it anyway! So I did it anyway. And we all felt better after the class for moving, for learning, and for getting outside and feeling the fresh air.
I honestly was nervous about having the kids there, as I didn’t want to interrupt the classes with my kids’ screaming and yelling and chasing balls and asking questions about trees. But in some ways their movement practice was just as genuine and valuable as what the coaches were teaching. I also heard feedback from some that having the kids there was also helpful to get out of their usual headspace and remind them to play and not take the whole process so seriously.
My 3.5-year-old daughter became an honorary member of the group, with lots of adults chatting with her and wanting to dance and play with her. She and her 1.5-year-old brother also benefited from this experience immensely; my daughter only watched a few classes, and participated even less, but just by being around all of these movers and watching the adults play both kids absorbed all of this training and movement and acceptance of physical play like sponges.
I caught them moving, jumping, dancing, and playing more than even at home; they also tried new tools like using the foam rollers and other apparatus people had brought with them, either copying what the grown-ups did or discovering other uses for them.
For me, the biggest take-away was just being accepting of where I am, not following a “system” or specific “method” but using these and thinking of these as tools. Taking what works and playing with them. Being inspired by the art of the possible, by the coaches and the students. That was the most amazing aspect of the week for me.
I sincerely hope they have another event next year. And I hope that other “non-movers” like me will give themselves a chance to go explore their own movement practices, and frankly to just go out and play and rediscover the joy of moving our bodies, no matter what silly, goofy, or wrong shape it makes.
Obviously there is a lot that goes into a “good” job – coworkers, supportive managers, and work you believe in. But there is also a surprising amount you can do within your own environment and office surroundings that will make your day-to-day grind better.
Here are a few compiled by Mashable (P.S.: Manatees are awesome!):
Beautify your work space. You personalize your home; why not personalize your desk? Make your cube or office a pleasant place to work with a few framed photos, a decorative pen holder or a tiny cactus. Image: Mashable/Vicky Leta
In a new show hanging at Steve Turner Contemporary in Los Angeles, Rafaël Rozendaal’s Abstract Browsing goes offline. The free Chrome extension was released in 2014, and transforms the web into an abstract collage of bright rectangles in randomized colors. Rozendaal, who uses the plugin every day and keeps an archive of his favorite screenshots, sifted through his collection and selected six compositions to turn into Jacquard woven tapestries, each nearly 5 x 9 feet.
I celebrated my daughter’s third birthday this past weekend.
She asked for a train-themed party, so of course we had to have the obligatory pink train cake (it sure felt obligatory based on how insistently she asked for it).
Although we had it at the park intentionally so the kid guests (and grown ups) could run around and climb on things, I also wanted to offer some sort of “activity” the kids could do while the parents actually sat down to relax and enjoy other adults’ company.
I grabbed four largish boxes and brought them to the park, along with crayons and stickers. I set the boxes up to look vaguely like a train, with one taped to the front box like it was a smoke stack, and invited everyone who wanted to to decorate the train as they saw fit. After they ate their cake (because, priorities), the kids all jumped into the train, from the one-year-old to the five-year-old, and proceeded to stay there for almost an hour jumping in and out of the boxes, decorating, adding stickers, often tipping the boxes over and falling out onto the grass, but laughing and getting right back in.
It was definitely the highlight of the birthday party.
I am glad that I took a chance and brought these boxes and crayons for the kids. It cost no money (I had all of these items laying around my house already), and it let the kids do some creative make believe play that they might not have gotten to do otherwise. It was something that all ages of kids could do independently or collaboratively as they so chose.
Parents lament that kids tend to like the box more than the present that came in it. I say bring on the box!
This is a great blog post from a teacher re-learning the value of creative free play and specifically outside.
I highly recommend you read the whole post, but for me this sentence summed up the whole experience:
“…As I witnessed these projects I realised that children and adults can only be as creative as their environment allows them to be and that by letting children spend time in a natural environment like the woods or to be surrounded by loose parts, we can but only help them to become or remain creative.”
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.
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.