Want to teach trainable skills? Go mountain biking!

bicyclist passing the road near the river
Photo by Pixabay on

At Christmas dinner this year, a family friend was discussing his new job as an electrician’s apprentice.

“Yeah, it’s great pay and I enjoy the work,” he said. “It’s crazy how this guy hired me to help dig fence posts for him, and was so impressed by my digging abilities he hired me right there that day to be his [electrician] apprentice.

The reason this man could dig such great holes is because he’s a long-time mountain biker. And in Washington State at least, that means going out and creating your own jumps, bridges, and other trails around various mountains.

A few cousins who also mountain bike chimed in about similar stories; getting jobs as carpenters or doing well in engineering classes because of their passion for mountain biking. Most mountain bikers also pick up first aid skills, native plant knowledge, and insight into local seasonal weather patterns which are applicable for all sorts of things.

These guys (and gals but mostly guys) all inadvertently trained themselves how to do complicated tasks and work hard doing them all in the pursuit of play! Play is a key driver for everyone as they grow and learn, from the time we are a few months old to the time we are in our 90’s.

Just a friendly reminder that “goofing off” and playing outside can be one of the most crucial skills you’ll ever learn!

community · creativity · play · Social

An Artist Invites the Public to Join in her Process

It’s always a brave choice to let the public inform an artistic process, especially in a public space. But that is what makes art meaningful to others.

  • Jan 25 & Feb 22, 2019
  • Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle WA
  • PACCAR Pavilion
  • 7 PM – 9 PM

Become part of an artist’s creative process during our Art Encounters.

In collaboration with the yǝhaẃ exhibition at King Street Station, the Seattle Art Museum presents an artist residency that will activate the Olympic Sculpture Park throughout the winter and help grow the artistic practice of contemporary Pacific Northwest Native artists. Multi-disciplinary Chugach Alutiiq artist

Christine Babic will take residence to research, workshop, and realize an immersive project exploring the gap between contemporary and traditional Indigenous works. Babic will combine performance and installation to create a site-specific experience with collaborating artists Mary Babic (Chugach Alutiiq) and Alex Britt (Nansemond/White).

Get inspired by learning about meaningful artistic practices and participating in two programs led by Christine Babic.


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! 🙂