Veteran’s Day Focus: Healing PTSD with Nature

Nature continues to be found to be a crucial part of the healing process for individuals, both physically and mentally.


Invisible wounds. It’s a haunting phrase and one that’s become all too familiar to a vast number of the military men and women serving in conflict zones in recent years. These wounds, a fact of modern war, have proven particularly vexing to the medical teams whose job it is to treat our troops. As many as 40 percent of soldiers returning from active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan experience these wounds, which all too often lead to suicide, according to Fred Foote, a former Naval physician, scholar of the Institute for Integrative Health, fierce advocate for wounded veterans, and leader of the Green Road project.

Let that number sink in. Forty percent; a staggering statistic that is devastating — to the military, to each of the lives the number represents.

I had my first intimate impression of the suffering being borne by so many soldiers while working with…

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Gardening as play and practice for risk-taking

This is a great post by Jennifer Oldham on the site Quiet Revolution (a FANTASTIC resource for introverts) about her experience returning to gardening after several years, and allowing herself to take risks in her garden, giving herself practice and permission to take risks in life too.

My quest for a garden started in the winter when I asked my husband to build me some raised garden beds. He surprised me on my birthday by spending the day building three-tiered, raised beds for me. I was thrilled.
In my previous gardening life, woodland creatures had eaten a part of my harvest before my family and I had gotten a chance to pick my vegetables. I felt cheated and disappointed by the discovery and I was determined that this time would be different.

Read the entire (short!) post.


My Journal Article – Just Wrestle: How We Evolved Through Rough And Tumble Play

photo of man in raising baby under blue sky
Photo by Studio 7042 on

Happy Fall! Yes I know it’s been fall for over a month now, but in my part of the world the leaves are only now bursting into their full fall glory, the weather is getting cold enough for stews and wool socks, and Samhain is just around the corner!

Speaking of being behind, I just realized I hadn’t yet shared the good news from this spring: I got published in a journal! Rafe Kelley from Evolve Move Play and I presented almost a year ago at the Ancestral Health Symposium on the evolutionary significance of Rough and Tumble play, and our extended abstract from that symposium was submitted and published! I’m still so proud and I want to share with everyone, mostly because it’s a topic I am passionate about and want everyone to read.

So, without further ado, read on:

Rough and tumble play has been defined as physically vigorous behaviors, such as chase and play fighting, that are accompanied by positive feelings between the players. The authors argue that rough and tumble play is an important component of the ancestral health mismatch. While diet, sun exposure, sleep, and other lifestyle factors have received the lion’s share of attention and study in the ancestral mismatch hypothesis, there is a growing understanding that movement may also be a primary factor in the ancestral mismatch problem. Less attention has been paid to the role of play as a primary motivating system for movement, and an educational impulse that has implications across a huge range of psychosocial and motor development.
Rough and tumble play is arguably a heavily repressed form of play and yet at the same time a truly fundamental and powerful form of play. Rough and tumble play has its own dedicated neural networks in the brains, is universal in all mammals, and has antecedents that are found throughout the group of bilateral animals, including birds, reptiles, and crustaceans. Rough and tumble play is a key system for humans to develop physical coordination, strength, agility, spatial awareness, risk management, emotional management, social negotiation, cooperation, and moral systems that deserves further examination.

Full citation and article: 

Kelley, Rafe and Kelley, Beth (2018) “Just Wrestle: How We Evolved Through Rough And Tumble Play,” Journal of Evolution and Health: Vol. 2: Iss. 3, Article 9.

architecture · community · design · environment · play · technology

Experience Brooklyn Bridge Park in Virtual Reality

An interesting use of VR to get folks excited about parks and the outdoors. I would argue whether this topic really captures folks’ interest?
The design/development team argue that most people in the world will never get to visit or experience the Brooklyn Bridge, which may be true. It’s also a good case study/example of the power of VR to expose people to new places.
This reminds me of other VR introduction projects I have seen, and appreciate using VR for sites that are far away from populated areas, or are too fragile to experience first hand for most folks. Arguably creating VR videos makes folks more aware and interested in spaces, so choosing a location that can handle more traffic is also a safe bet.
I think it’s just my personal opinion I would rather see this kind of video for a national park that’s off the beaten path, or lesser known spots around NY that folks could “discover” via VR. But all in all cool project.


ASLA 2018 Professional General Design Award of Excellence. Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn, NYC / Alexa Hoyer

Experience Virtual Reality! Immerse yourself in Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City, which won the ASLA 2018 Professional Award of Excellence in General Design. Explore this unique park built in part over abandoned piers, guided by landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh, FASLA, president and CEO of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.

Viewing Options

Option 1: Watch a 360 Video on YouTube

If you are on your phone reading this page, simply click on this URL and watch it in your YouTube mobile app: (please note that this video will not work in your mobile browser)

Be sure to turn around while watching so you can see all angles of the park!

Or if you are on a desktop computer, go to using your Chrome browser.

Go to settings and…

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Giving space for play

This past week the mayor of Seattle visited my son’s preschool. This meant that he got all of 5 seconds of screen time sitting and listening to the mayor read a story.I was excited to see him on TV. I also noticed that in half of the clips, he had his special lovey toy with him, and was quite actively bouncing it off of his best friend sitting next to him.
While I know my son and his friend would both think it is funny, there was a part of me that panicked, thinking, "oh no, the world is going to see my son bashing some other kid in the shoulder with this toy on regional television!"
But then I thought about it more; they editor of that news story had deliberately picked that shot. They had been in the classroom for at least half an hour, filming the kids the whole time. Of all the cute or silly footage they could have chosen to help compliment their news story, they picked that one. The moment of little kids being kids together, playing and having fun together while also having a story read to them and learning. THAT right there is an endorsement – to me anyway – that the news crew saw that interaction and felt the same way I did – that these were obviously two friends just being friends together, bouncy stuffed animals and all.
It’s important for all of us to remember to give space for play. Even me.

community · design · play · Social

PARK(ing) Day Showcases the Power of Public Space

I missed this year’s event in my city, so bummed! Seattle usually puts on quite the event!


On Friday, September 21, landscape architects and designers around the world participated in the 14th annual PARK(ing) Day to demonstrate the power of public space. PARK(ing) Day helps the public see the difference a designed space, even one as small as a metered parking spot, can make in their community.

The Landscape Architecture Bureau (LAB) in Washington, D.C. gave passersby an opportunity to simply relax and read on a Friday afternoon.

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anthropology · behavior · creativity · design · environment · happiness · play · work

Bring More Joy To Your Workspace, Yes You!

adult chill computer connection
Photo by on

I wanted to share this great article from IDEO alum and design Ingrid Fetell Lee about the importance of having a joyful work environment, and what you as an individual can do about it!

She starts with all the important reasons why joyful work spaces are needed:

…Research shows that feeling joy at work not only increases our wellbeing, but also our performance across the spectrum. Joy increases our working memory and cognitive flexibility, which in turn leads to better problem-solving. Take doctors, for example: Those who have been primed to feel joyful make a correct diagnosis earlier than those in a neutral mindset. Joyful businesspeople consider a wider range of scenarios and make more accurate decisions. Joyful negotiators are more likely to achieve win-win agreements. And it turns out it’s infectious: Joyful leaders spread positivity to their teams, increasing rates of effort and cooperation; and when salespeople exhibit joy, customers respond by spending more time in a store, giving higher satisfaction ratings, and expressing a greater likelihood to return.

Read her full article for her easy-to-implement tips for bringing joy into your workspace.

Full disclosure, right after reading this I did an audit of my desk at work and found I had already implemented a couple of these, including based on the same research she cites, but I missed a couple I am definitely going to add! 🙂



52 Ways to Ignite Your Creative Spark

As the long summer days start to shorten and the weather starts to cool, I have been focusing more on being mindful in everything I do and taking time for myself. Something that can seem so simple is in fact REALLY HARD for most folks.
The good news is taking 20 minutes, or even 5, is often enough to reset. For some people that means working out, doing yoga, meditating, or some physical practice. I’ve been trying to get physical for 30 minutes three times a week.
For some people, including me, it means using that time to get creative, or letting their creativity get sparked by others.
In the past I have also found journaling super helpful, and there are some great guides online and many different ways to do it.
A new product, A Few Minutes of Design, offers lots of great mini-creativity projects to keep that spark going all year!


A Few Minutes of Design / Princeton Architectural Press

The mission of the Creative Education Trust in London is to empower kids through creativity and design thinking. Partnering with Princeton Architectural Press, they created A Few Minutes of Design, which offers 52 activities to encourage inventiveness. This well-crafted little packet of fun may work just as well for inspiring creativity among children and young adults as it does for rekindling the spark of a semi-burnt-out designer confronting endless deadlines.

The trust believes “creativity is the ability to find connections between the things we know and to turn these connections into new ideas and action. The academic arts and the sciences, practical subjects and life skills all need creativity. Creativity is highly valued by employers. With knowledge, skills, and creativity, every young individual is equipped to succeed in the knowledge economy of the 21st century.”

To appeal to as broad…

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anthropology · architecture · behavior · community · design · environment · family · happiness · play · technology

How Play Can Modernize Cities

There has been a lot of focus recently about designing and updating cities through technology, rethinking old infrastructures, and so on. IDEO put out some of its own ideas, and the one that stuck out for me the most (no surprise), was Nazlican Gosku’s take on the value of play in a city’s ecosystem:

Play! In the last year, I have started chasing and capturing playful moments in the streets— from graffiti, to a group of kids playing in the water from a broken pipe, to lovers dancing on a street corner. This journey of capturing playfulness in the streets made me more aware and even obsessed with the idea of how we can design the right conditions for playfulness in the city. Why playfulness? Because playing means engaging, engagement brings care. If we are more caring and careful about the streets of the cities we live in, we might build stronger connections for healthier communities. Being playful on the streets requires courage, builds trust, allows for discovery, create communities. Playfulness is fundamental to our social nature, so it’s a useful framework for thinking through how we can build stronger cities and communities.

Thank you Ms. Gosku! So much yes in this!

  • If we are playing with something, we are engaging and care about it, or will care about it more.
  • Humans use play as the framework for our social structures, both in hunter-gatherer groups and on the children’s playfield.
  • Play builds trust and community.
  • It therefore also develops “buy-in” from communities who are more willing to invest in their cities.

Play NEEDS to be part of community planning, whether it is a small community or a huge metropolis!