community · creativity · culture · play · Social

For Lunar New Year, MonkeyShine Artists Create Art Treasure Hunt in Tacoma, WA

Looking for a way to get outside on a cold, gray day in the Pacific Northwest? And find fun art pieces? AND celebrate Lunar New Year?

How about treasure hunting for #monkeyshines! Volunteer glass artists create small glass tokens or pendants and then hide them all over Tacoma for people to find, just around the Lunar New Year.

Read more happening in Tacoma, WA:

We are local artists and lovers of all things Tacoma. Our identities are secret-that is part of the magic of Monkeyshines.


Rogue monkeys have been busy and there are more wonderful gifts to be found this year than ever. I will be featuring monkeys in another blog post tonight or tomorrow.

And don’t forget all of the amazing things that our monkey friends and rogue monkeys are creating.  It gets better and better every year.  The best part of this Tacoma tradition is how everyone is out exploring our city,  making new friends, picking up trash and thinking about what they can create and share with others. How will you give back?

Check out the #monkeyshines2019 hashtag on Twitter for real time updates on what monkeys, monkey friends and rogue monkeys are creating and hiding; You can also find that hashtag in use on Instagram and Facebook. You can also follow a certain Naughty Monkey @ANaughtyMonkey on Twitter at

Share your finds on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #MonkeyShines2019

Be Safe, Have fun, and remember…. “TAKE ONLY ONE”

The artists have chosen to remain anonymous, but the collective of artists have agreed to continue doing this for another 12-year cycle!

You can listen to a podcast with two of the monkey artists (their voices were even anonymized to keep them a secret!).

Also check out their Facebook page:



anthropology · behavior · children · community · creativity · Social

Halloween, the most playful time of year

Cute Kids in Children's Costumes
Kids in Halloween Costumes (Photo credit:

Ah, Halloween, originally considered the betwixt and between time of year when ghosts and souls past could pass over into our world and scare the crud out of their relatives.

But these days, Halloween is really a celebration of play. No, really! When else is it perfectly acceptable to dress up in funny costumes, stay up late on a week night running around banging on peoples doors, play tricks on people, and create food that looks spooky or gross but is really just lots of sugar?

The tradition of dressing up and playing for Halloween is alive and well in the tradition of Dia de los Muertos, for example. To deal with and make light of mortality, grown-ups and kids will put on make-up and costumes that represent death and the dead. They’ll make and eat sugary confections, parade down the street, play music, sing songs, and overall try to make a party out of a normally scary and sad phenomenon. Yes, there is some sadness involved, such as visiting relatives’ graves and setting up alters to reflect their passing, but for some even the act of creating the alter, i.e. being creative, is cathartic and helps with the loss of a loved one.

In the play deprived United States, Halloween has become one big kid’s night out for adults as well as kids. Children and grown-ups alike look forward to dressing up, pretending to be a character, and be silly with friends. Often the costume is a parody or commentary on something political, but that’s just as playful as covering yourself as marshmallows, although potentially socially sticky instead of just physically sticky.

That’s why it makes me sad that so many K – 12 schools have banned Halloween for fear of these socially sticky situations or fear of kids bringing weapons to school as part of their costumes, plus some religious groups find Halloween offensive. While I understand and respect all of these concerns, I disagree with the idea that we should just get rid of it outright. How are we going to learn to get along and get over differences if we just avoid them? Play and school are both supposed to be about learning, so why not turn Halloween into a learning opportunity?

As a proponent of play, I feel like Halloween is an important holiday, not because of what it originally stood for, but for what it stands for now. Being socially allowed to play and pretend, even for one day, is important for humans’ mental health. It also creates bonds between people who share in the activity, not just from sharing the experience but learning more about each other through their costumes.

I will definitely be buying candy and supporting Halloween this year, not for the sweet tooth but for the costumes. Play on!


Dia de los Muertos

I think this is a great holiday and needs to be observed by more people.
For those out of the know, it is a holiday in Mexico that is part of Halloween but is a little different. While Halloween and November 1st are days to honor all departed souls in general (and little kids are honored on the 1st), November 2 is a day to pay your respects to specific family members and friends who have died in the past few years. It’s supposed to be about honoring and celebrating the person rather than mourning that they’re gone. People put up alters with candles, sweets, or the person’s favorite things, or they’ll put out an extra plate of food at the dinner table, or go visit the grave and leave flowers and food and pour some favorite beverage (usually alcohol-based) onto the person’s grave. Sometimes the whole family will have a picnic at the gravesite.
But as for us non-Spanish Catholics, in this age I think it’s a good holiday because it allows us to slow down and think back on lost loved ones and remember why those people were awesome, and for people who do believe it lets them feel closer to the deceased, like a reunion of sorts. It’s like a very odd family reunion or Christmas party.
I didn’t make an alter, but I did put up La Catrina at work (a famous symbol of dia de los muertos), and have been thinking about my Aunt Peg and John Grandpa. I think they’d both appreciate a nod on this holiday.