children · community · creativity · environment · family · mental health · play

Play Takes Dedication (or Samhain Resolutions)

creative adult

Wow, I can’t believe it’s already November. Fall has been going fast.

It seems like I have been incredibly “busy with stuff” – kid stuff, grown-up stuff, house stuff, work stuff. Recently I realized I was forgetting to do all the also-important “me” stuff.

Again.

I mean, I wasn’t so bad; I had had several coffee dates with friends, taken time to go for more walks, was deliberately NOT folding laundry and instead just snuggling on the couch during my husband’s and my Friday night TV ritual (we won’t admit it’s a ritual but at this point it really is).

So the “little” maintenance stuff was getting done. Check.

However, I realized I wasn’t making time for the “big stuff”. The stuff that gave me purpose, that made me feel like I was contributing back to the community.

A few recent events reminded me of this.

First: Getting to attend and present at a fantastic conference two weeks ago – EPIC (Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference) held in Montreal this year – where I was surrounded by like-minded folks in my line of work (ethnography and studying humans in business and corporate settings). There’s nothing like being able to share your work and how you spend your days, and have people say, “wow, that’s cool!” or even “have you considered this too?”, rather than “uh, what’s that?”

epic-perspectives.jpg

Second: Halloween! While I’m not a huge fan of candy (and we ended up trading the kids’ candy for a “better” treat), I do appreciate the communal ritual of kids running like hooligans up and down their neighborhood streets, getting to show off their costumes to the grown-ups who might otherwise be isolated – whether they’re retirees or just work 70+ hours a week – who then get to be social with cute kids in cute costumes and make the kids happy by giving them treats. Not to mention the fun of dressing up and pretending to be someone or something else, or just offering a visual pun or cultural reference!

costumes
Batman and a zombie
wrecking ball
I came in like a wrecking ball…

Third: my boss organized an offsite for our whole team to use glue and stickers and washi tape and cut out pictures from magazines and create “vision boards” for ourselves. Theoretically it was about work, but in reality and fully endorsed by our boss, it was really about finding four big-but-small goals that are going to keep you motivated, keep you driven, at home, at work, and in life.

vision board

Mine were pretty simple yet also pretty complicated:

  1. Craft more.
  2. Make my work more actionable (not just work for work’s sake; what were the actions that could be taken from it?).
  3. Go on one “big” adventure a year.
  4. Get people playing more.

Getting myself to play seems hard enough; but getting others to play more also taps into that #2 goal of making what I do impactful/actionable.

I want to do more than just support play, I want to start actively PLAYING and pushing play. Start toy-bombing again. Start promoting play activities with our neighbors and at work. I’m supposed to be in charge of a yarn bombing event at work, and yet I’ve been hesitant to promote the HELL out of it (not sure why).

All of those things have really pushed me to making both personal play and advocating play more of a reality.

Yes, the house still needs cleaning (desperately!). Yes, we still need to run and grab food at the grocery store. Yes we still have But having a mission makes all of those things more tolerable for me, and put into a perspective of being part of a larger goal. I need food to keep up my energy. I need to tidy (okay, also scrub/purge/deep clean) the house so I can find what I need and focus on my projects.

I’ve noticed over the years I coincidentally tend to come up with my “new year’s resolutions” around the pagan New Year of Samhain rather than the Gregorian New Year on January 1, so all of these experiences make it a perfect time to renew and re-assert my goals and energy towards play.

What are some of your goals for renewing yourself and keeping yourself inspired and enriched? Let me know in the comments below.

architecture · children · creativity · design · play

Playground Crochet by Toshiko Horiuchi

This is from last November, but still amazing!

Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam, who orders yarn by the ton for her creations, is the textile artist behind the oft photographed net constructions at the Hakone sculpture park in Sapporo Japan.

I love the story of how she came to be engaged with children’s play:  “It all happened quite by accident. Two children had entered the gallery where she was exhibiting ‘Multiple Hammock No. 1’ and, blissfully unaware of the usual polite protocols that govern the display of fine art, asked to use it. She watched nervously as they climbed into the structure, but then was thrilled to find that the work suddenly came alive in ways she had never really anticipated. She noticed that the fabric took on new life – swinging and stretching with the weight of the small bodies, forming pouches and other unexpected transformations, and above all there were the sounds of the undisguised delight of children exploring a new play space.”

From that point, her work shifted out of the gallery and a subdued, monochromatic pallet into a riotous rainbow of colors for children’s playscapes.

Rainbow Net was produced in close collaboration with structural engineers TIS & Partners and landscape architects Takano Landscape Planning and opened in July of 2000 after three years of planning, testing, and building.

Note that the project began with a brief not for a playground, but simply for ‘public art‘.   Wouldn’t it be great if when we heard ‘public art’ we automatically thought ‘play’?

But innovative playscapes require an enormous commitment: “…endless cycles of discussion and approval, with meticulous attention to detail…[including] an actual scale wooden replica of the space in Horiuchi’s studio and accurately scaled crocheted nets using fine cotton thread. Even then, it was difficult to assess many things. What difference, for instance, would the weight of the real yarn make when everything increased in scale? All of these factors had to be calculated in order to arrive at a scientific methodology that could eradicate any risk of unacceptable danger.”During final assembly, Toshiko crocheted ten hours a day, often on her knees, until the installation was complete.”

With the current revival of the textile arts and yarn bombings everywhere, I’d love to see more crochet on the playground!

More at: Playground Crochet by Toshiko Horiuchi.

What an amazing use of fabric to create an original, creative play space.

behavior · community

Noted: Collaborative Consumption | The Etsy Blog

Helsinki city bikes
Helsinki's "city bikes." Image via Wikipedia

I used to live in a house with my husband, dog, and three or more roommates. While this lifestyle was a little too “collaborative” for us at times, I did appreciate the ability to borrow tools from one another, be able to cook a large meal and know that somebody would eat the leftovers, and have built-in dog sitters for a quick weekend getaway. I definitely see this idea catching on in people my age (the younger Gen-Xers and older Millenials), and while I don’t know if it’s because we’re younger and have no money, or if we’re all brain-washed commies, but I’m glad to see our ideas weren’t that unique.

Collaborative consumption, a movement recently highlighted by Morgan Clendaniel for Co.Design, encourages communities to monetize their unused goods through a system of borrowing. Zip Car and bike sharing programs are excellent examples of rethinking consumption, enabling people to borrow a method of transportation for the few hours it’s needed. “You might own some tools that you never use, or perhaps you have a backyard that you just don’t have the time to do anything interesting with,” explains Clendaniel. “Today, they can look like revenue streams, not wastes of money.”

via Noted: Collaborative Consumption | The Etsy Blog.

As a sort of antithesis to “Keeping Up with the Joneses,” we borrow books from friends, have slow food dinners that are really just giant potlucks, and practice other collaborative consumption.Other communities have city bikes and cars that anyone can use, as well as “free” stores where people can drop off stuff they no longer need and pick up anything they like.

But we live in a fairly hippy city; what is it like in other communities that might not be so collaborative? Leave your observations in the comments below.