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How Can We Get Trees to Communities That Need Them the Most?

A well-written article discussing how to get trees back into cities and especially to communities that need them. I would love to see this plan implemented in all city and urban planning offices.

THE DIRT

charlotte Charlotte, North Carolina street trees / Kenny Craft on Pinterest

The science is increasingly clear: trees are central to healthy, livable cities. New studies are only adding to this understanding. For example, recent research published in the prestigious journal Nature found that having 10 more trees on your block, on average, improves the perception of your own health in ways comparable to an increase in annual income of $10,000 or being 7 years younger. However, according to Cene Ketcham, a graduate student in urban forestry at Virginia Tech, the benefits of urban trees rarely fan out equally across a city.

“We know trees have a lot of benefits. And if we know that having trees in our cities is important for our health, the converse must also be true — a lack of trees hurts your health,” Ketcham said at a conference organized by Casey Trees in Washington, D.C.

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Landscape Architects: Get Your PARK(ing) Day on

Get ready for PARKing Day. You have one month to prepare. 🙂

THE DIRT

AUB Landscape Society celebrates Park(ing) Day / outlookaub.com AUB Landscape Society celebrates Park(ing) Day / outlookaub.com

Founded in 2005 by landscape architect John Bela, ASLA, a founding principal of Rebar, PARK(ing) Day is September 18 this year. PARK(ing) Day is a global, open-source phenomenon in which landscape architects and other designers transform metered parking spaces into temporary mini-parks, or parklets. The event helps the public visualize just how much of our public realm is given over to cars and all the other potential ways these spaces could be used by communities.

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) encourages its professional and student members to lead the design and installation of parklets and show the public how surprising designed parklets can be.

Rebar's original PARK(ing) Day in San Francisco, 2005 / parkingday.org Rebar’s original PARK(ing) Day in San Francisco, 2005 / parkingday.org

Whether it’s simply a new place to sit and relax, or play a game, parklets will draw a crowd.

HBB Landscape Architecture / Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce HBB Landscape Architecture parklet /…

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Supporting Movement and Adventure Play With Your Kids

This is a blog post from my husband, who teaches movement (and writes about it occasionally) under the brand Evolve Move Play. I thought it was worth sharing:

Last week my family went to the Oregon coast.

At the beach my son encountered an estuary that fed into and mixed with the rising and falling ocean waves. This was a new experience, and he was enraptured, charging into it at full speed until he was swamped by the water, popping back up, with a huge smile on his face charging back up the beach, only to turn around and do it again. Over and over for twenty minutes he did this. I have rarely seen such pure unadulterated joy and for so long.

11872146_397553467113545_4367387996372295832_oWhat wonderful movement nutrition he was experiencing, moving up and down slope, on changing surfaces, tensions of sand, feeling the resistance of water and its changing currents, the rapid change in temperature as the warm water of the estuary would be rapidly cooled by an incoming wave, and here and there moments where he was lifted by the water and had the first stimulations of swimming.

My wife was initially worried about letting him charge into the water, but each wave’s passing meant it was only briefly deep enough to touch his face, and we have been developing his mammalian diving reflex since he was 3 months old. I was there to catch him if he was overwhelmed, but every time he did get swamped he just came up smiling bigger than ever.

The surfaces and environments we move through are impoverished. We eliminate as many sources of challenge as possible and so increase our convenience. What we don’t notice is how we are removing our movement nutrition.

11228120_397553533780205_7240928314632453248_oIt’s like replacing real whole food meals with processed foods, convenient but not nourishing.

Small children are especially sensitive to this, a developing locomotive system that is only challenged by flat ground is like a developing a body that is only fed corn, it’s not going to develop optimally.

Children innately understand this and are intrigued by new movement environments and when they find a new and intriguing movement challenge they will want to repeat it over and over.

We need to recognize how we can support and keep them safe without limiting them and how we can follow their lead.

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Making Places to Play – Is not Enough

Great thought piece by Jay Beckwith about the need for play advocacy and not just designated play spaces.

Playground Guru

This article was first published in Playground Professionals Newsletter, July 20, 2015

trash boys

As a child of the sixties I spent my teen years grappling with the issues of the Vietnam War, the free speech movement, and civil rights. Our generation wanted to do something to make the world a better place.

Having graduated from San Francisco State with a major in art I went on to Pacific Oaks to learn to be an early childhood educator. One of the great things about Pacific Oaks is that they had preschool classes on campus and all of the graduate students had daily interaction with children. It was at Pacific Oaks that I first experienced a loose parts playspace. We used cable spools, old doors, boxes, tarps, and the like.

Seeing how well these worked I realized that I could combine what I could use in my background from both school and like…

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Why I Am Not “Dropping Out”

Cute_Piglets_Pictures_10

I often fantasize about “dropping out” of the conventional American lifestyle, giving up a 9-5 grind that is really more like 7am-6pm for most of us, and going to grind out a living far away from traffic, people, long commutes, loud city noises,

I am very, very tempted to run off to a small couple of acres in the country, to live at the end of a dirt road away from the world.

And who knows, I probably will someday.

But right now, I can’t.

Not because of my dedication to work or my house or anything like that.

It would just feel wrong to me.

I can’t just leave the rest of humanity behind to suffer.

While more and more people of my generation and beyond are dropping out of city life and moving back to more rural lifestyles – or moving more urban to avoid being obligated to cars and mortgages on top of crushing student debt – there are more who cannot leave. Or don’t want to leave, but don’t want to live in a stressful, noisy, isolated, both physically and emotionally polluting and toxic environment either. Long hours, draining work, bills, obligations that lead grown-ups (and now children) to have leisureless and playless lives.

It does not have to be this way.

We can make our cities more fun, more playful, more engaging.

Somebody has to stay and fight. To inspire others.

I would rather stay and fight the powers, be a voice for change. To change what we’re doing from the inside out. To seed bomb old vacant lots that otherwise collect trash and weeds. Fight for green spaces throughout cities, from suburban to industrial neighborhoods. Fight for parks. Fight for parades. Fight for a culture shift of fear and isolation to one of joy and collaboration. Knowing your city, knowing your neighbors. Fight for the feeling that you have time and are allowed to enjoy your city, your neighborhood, your backyard, your life. Fight for the right to spend time with your kids on the weekend without guilt!

I am by no means a perfect example. I have a lot of building to do for myself. But I feel that while I build I’d love to build others up with me. Build a city. Build a playground. Build a full life.

I want to show that no matter where you live you can make a change, you can make choices.

I am going to stay and fight.

I am going to fight for play. For leisure. For space both physically and culturally for play, music, art, science, exploration. For a more balanced life. For a life worth living, for all of us.

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Report encourages children to play outside more to combat lack of physical activity

More compounding research driving home the need for children (and grownups) to get outside and play.

Global News

WATCH: A Participaction report shows kids need risky outdoor play that is good for their health. Global’s Shelley Steeves speaks to a mom who fully embraces that idea.

RIVERVIEW, N.B. – Canadian children are not getting enough physical activity according to a new report card by a national health advocacy group.

According to ParticipACTION’s report on Physical Activity for Children and Youth gave Canadian kids a “D” grade for overall physical activity.

The report’s chief scientific officer Dr. Mark Tremblay also believes that kids are not spending enough time playing outside unsupervised.

“Parents have convinced themselves and trained themselves or certainly the social note is that if you keep kids indoors then they are safe,” he said.

When in fact he says failing to get enough self-directed outdoor play can lead to long-term health risks.

“If we bubble wrap ourselves and sit down and don’t move,” he said. “No, we are not…

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Yoko Ono’s “Sky Landing” Is Coming to Chicago’s Jackson Park

I recently got to visit Chicago and was excited to see all the public art and architecture in the downtown, Millennium Park area. This is a great continuation of that focus on public access to art and enrichment.

THE DIRT

sky1 Restoration of Jackson Park / Project 120

On a rainy afternoon, surrounded by musicians, dancers, and dignitaries, artist Yoko Ono spoke at an “earth healing” ceremony, celebrating the dedication of the site of what will be her only permanent installation in the Americas, Sky Landing. The installation will be in Chicago’s Jackson Park, on the Wooded Island, which is currently undergoing extensive restoration work, including the reconstruction of natural areas and the creation of a new pavilion.

Sky Landing will be located on a site adjacent to the Osaka Garden in Frederick Law Olmsted’s bucolic park. The site is historically significant, as it is the location of the original Phoenix Pavilion, which was built in 1893 as a part of the World’s Fair Columbian Exposition to promote American understanding of Japanese culture and as a means to unite the East and West. The original pavilion burned to the ground…

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architecture · community · design · Nature · Uncategorized

An End to Forgettable Stormwater Management?

Love this.

THE DIRT

PennypackerCovers-FinalFront Artful Rainwater Design / Island Press

As our climate becomes more unpredictable, finding better ways to manage stormwater is crucial to mitigating flood damage. However, traditional stormwater management strategies can be unforgettable at best and unsightly at worst. In the new book, Artful Rainwater Design: Creative Ways to Manage Stormwater, authors and Pennsylvania State University professors, Stuart Echols, ASLA, and Eliza Pennypacker, ASLA, prove that this doesn’t always have to be the case — it is possible to effectively manage runoff without sacrificing aesthetics.

In this well-organized how-to guide for designers, Echols and Pennypacker highlight the benefits of Artful Rainwater Design (ARD), a term coined by Echols in 2005 to describe rainwater collection systems that are not only functional, but also attractive and engaging. These systems are usually designed to handle small rain events and the initial — and dirtiest — events, rather than major flooding from large storms…

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