behavior · community · creativity · culture · environment · happiness · play

An Artist’s Quest: To Force Strangers In Cities To Talk To One Another | Co.Exist

Sometimes all it takes is one person to start a neighborhood to start talking and engaging with one another. Someone moves in and throws an open house. Or even a garage sale. So how can art, or an artist, inject “love and play” into a community, particularly when the younger generations trust each other less than ever before?

San Francisco-based artist Hunter Franks is on a three-week mission across several different cities to explore just that, and hopefully get some “creative intervention” going in these urban areas.

An Artist's Quest: To Force Strangers In Cities To Talk To One Another | Co.Exist | ideas + impact

One Franks’s planned activities is something called “Vacant Love,” which aims to transform abandoned or neglected buildings with messages of affection. Another, called the “Free Portrait Project” asks residents to sit for a Polaroid photo taken by Franks, and during the 120 seconds it takes for the picture to develop, entertain a brief interview about their lives. Other interventions include two-way advice booths, for citizens to both give and take advice from one another, as well as an activity that asks people to write sticky notes about their loves and fears on a public wall. Franks will also be expanding his SF Postcard Project, in which he gathered postcards written from low-income San Francisco neighborhoods and mailed them to homes in ritzier ZIP codes.

more via An Artist’s Quest: To Force Strangers In Cities To Talk To One Another | Co.Exist | ideas + impact.

What activities have you seen, or even been engaged in, that got a neighborhood members involved and communicating? For some, even a Little Free Library can get the ball rolling. Tell us your experiences in the comments below.

creativity · design · play

Whimsical Inventions Solve Problems People Didn’t Even Know They Had – PSFK

I loved Wallace and Grommet for all the creative inventions Wallace developed. Turns out artist Dominic Wilcox creates similar odd inventions in real life, and businesses are willing to donate space to display them.

This time it’s the turn of celebrated British department store Selfridges to let Wilcox’s creative wings spread and take over their prestigious windows on behalf of the store’s Festival of Imagination. For the project, Wilcox created the “Variations On Normal” where his eccentric yet logical inventions give physical form to figments of his imagination. Some of his specially made pieces include an umbrella with built-in flower pots and a suitcase with robotic legs that follows its owner.

more via Whimsical Inventions Solve Problems People Didn’t Even Know They Had [Pics] – PSFK.

anthropology · community · culture · environment · play · Social

Happy Park(ing) Day 2013!

Parking Day, Pioneer Square Seattle
Participants of Parking Day setting up a game in Pioneer Square, Seattle. Photo by author.

Today is PARK(ing) Day, “an annual worldwide event where artists, designers and citizens transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks.”

Every year I see some amazing games, maps, and other cool uses of parking spaces set up all over Seattle.

Go out and explore the different parklets!

more via Park(ing) Day 2013 | PARK(ing) Day 2013 is Friday, September 20th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Side View on Park(ing) Day aktivity by Green C...
Side View on Park(ing) Day aktivity by Green City in Munich. Two Parking spaces were transformed into a small park. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
architecture · community · creativity · design · environment · play

Dalston House: where every visitor becomes Spider-Man – video | Art and design | guardian.co.uk

A Victorian terrace has popped up in east London that lets you swing from its ledges, run up its walls and generally defy gravity. Architecture critic Oliver Wainwright hangs loose at Dalston House, the novelty installation by Argentinian artist Leandro Erlich.

The artist talks about “enjoyable discovery” and playing with spaces that you might not otherwise think of.

I love how it is an interactive piece of art that only exists when people play with it.

more at Dalston House: where every visitor becomes Spider-Man – video | Art and design | guardian.co.uk.

anthropology · behavior · creativity · culture · happiness · play · Social · technology · youtube

Lolcats and the Harlem Shake: Play on the Internet


An article from the head of Google’s Agency Strategic Planning team published in Fast Company talks about why we play on the Internet; it’s a really good dive into the need and importance for play in our lives and share that playful experience with others, and how as we move towards a more digital space we are taking that need to share play with us. It is marketing/branding focused, but the message is clear; we all need play and are making space for it, at least in our Internet lives:

We [netizens] uploaded over half a million variations of Harlem Shake to YouTube in the past few months. Google searches for Cat GIFs hit an all-time high last month. And we took 380 billion photos last year–that’s 10% of all the photos taken . . . ever. But let’s be honest–these memes are fun, but they don’t matter, right? They’re pretty much a waste of time.

As the head of Google’s Agency Strategic Planning team, it’s my job to work with brands and creative agencies to help develop their ideas in the digital space. So I had to ask: Why would we be doing so much of all this “visual play” if it really means so little to us?
To get to the bottom of these memes, we assembled a team of original thinkers–anthropologists, digital vanguards, and content creators–to dig a little deeper into this “visual web.” We also spoke to gen-Cers–the people who grew up on the web or behave as though they did–and who thrive on creation, curation, connection, and community.

The research showed us that far from distracting us from more serious things, these viral pictures, videos, and memes reconnect us to an essential part of ourselves.

It may seem that all we’re doing is just capturing every mundane moment. But look closely. These everyday moments are shot, displayed, and juxtaposed in a way that offers us a new perspective. And then all of a sudden these everyday moments, places, and things look . . . fascinating.

As kids, that happens all the time because everything is new. Everything is unlike. And we aren’t constrained by the rules about what “goes together.” Why else was putting the Barbie in the toy car wash more fun than putting the car in the car wash?

Read the whole article here: Memes With Meaning: Why We Create And Share Cat Videos And Why It Matters To People And Brands

anthropology · behavior · community · happiness · health

Americans’ happiness score – latimes.com

Life is good.
Americans are in the top 10 for happy nations. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’re a lot happier as a nation than I was otherwise led to believe. Um, go us?

We’re No. 6! That’s according to new data from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development , which on Tuesday released results of a survey measuring quality of life in 36 industrialized nations.

For the last three years, the Paris-based outfit has weighed 11 criteria, including housing, income, jobs, environment, safety and work-life balance. For the third year in a row, Australia was the big winner, thanks in large part to an economy that managed to avoid the global recession of the last decade.

The U.S. hobbled across the finish line in sixth place, behind Sweden, Canada, Norway and Switzerland, which ranked second through fifth, respectively.

more via Daum: Americans’ happiness score – latimes.com.

But seriously (ha ha), I feel like happiness scoring, as subjective as it is, is a good way of measuring our overall health and well being. It also indicates we’re doing okay and getting time in our lives for all the important stuff like family and time to recreate. I like Bhutan’s use of grass national happiness as a major marker for the nation’s well-being (lovely country, BTW, just be prepared for an exciting landing).

happiness · health · play

Playing with smoke rings, air rings, bubble rings…

Courtesy of Krulwich Wonders: multiple species will make their own games and toys out of thin air, literally, using a variety of different tools:

Humans do it with smoke.

A human blowing smoke rings.

Dolphins do it with air.

A beluga blowing rings.

With a little snort, dolphins can produce a nearly perfect "air" rings, (sophisticated non-dolphins called them toroidal vortices) which they turn into underwater toys.

While humans and dolphins obviously play with rings, it’s possible humpback whales do this too. The video shows humpbacks sending air rings to the ocean surface, but in one of them, the giant underwater author suddenly pops up mid-ring to take what looks like a bow in front of a boat of whale-watchers.

More…

children · environment · happiness · hugs · Nature · neuroscience · psychology

Tree Hugging Now Scientifically Validated – Uplift

hugging trees can be good for us

The term “tree hugger” has been applied to people viewed as uber-liberal or too idealistic, however… “it has been recently scientifically validated that hugging trees is actually good for you.”

Research has shown that you don’t even have to touch a tree to get better, you just need to be within its vicinity has a beneficial effect.

In a recently published book, Blinded by Science, the author Matthew Silverstone, proves scientifically that trees do in fact improve many health issues such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), concentration levels, reaction times, depression and other forms of mental illness. He even points to research indicating a tree’s ability to alleviate headaches in humans seeking relief by communing with trees.

The author points to a number of studies that have shown that children show significant psychological and physiological improvement in terms of their health and well being when they interact with plants and trees. Specifically, the research indicates that children function better cognitively and emotionally in green environments and have more creative play in green areas. Also, he quotes a major public health report that investigated the association between green spaces and mental health concluded that “access to nature can significantly contribute to our mental capital and wellbeing”.

full article via Tree Hugging Now Scientifically Validated – Uplift.

I”m sorry the article only looked at research in children, as more and more findings are showing the same improvements in adults from interacting and playing with nature, and even results that some would term “nature deprivation” or as Richard Louv calls it “Nature Deficit Disorder.”

One of my favorite little trivia facts is that there are microbes in soil that induce positive emotions in people, so digging in the dirt actually makes you happier. Plus helps you learn and concentrate more.

Hospital patients with a view of a tree or greenery from their room window were found to heal faster.

 

Those kinds of benefits are for everybody!

While I do feel like it’s important to make sure children get enough outdoor time, I continually want to drive home the message that not only should you encourage children to go outside and play, but adults too. We ALL need fresh air and nature and flowers and bugs and dirt.

anthropology · behavior · community · creativity · culture · mental health · play

Offices move towards more playful space design, but what kind of play is best for workspace environments?

More and more office spaces are trying to become more playful, offering employees a way to destress and/or get more creative. Usually that takes the form of having ping pong tables or video game consoles set up for breaks, but more and more offices are adding slides, swing sets, picnic tables, or other more active and engaging apparatus. They are also bringing in more greenery for workers.

This office may be the most fun in Britain as it comes kitted out with a giant helter skelter slide, a tree house and even a pub.

The unique workplace also boasts a pool table, a putting green, a giant swing and a cinema.

Office designers Space & Solutions were tasked with turning a former pub in Southampton into the home for IT company, Peer 1 Hosting.

‘If you don’t feel comfortable sitting at a desk you can sit on a picnic bench. The reality is that you can do your work from anywhere.’

Read more: UK Daily Mail

The article points out that some people may find all this fun a little distracting to actually work around. Some kinds of play are probably great at cutting stress but may be more of a time suck than creativity inducer. I’m curious what readers think. Are you one of those people who does their best work sitting on a couch, or heck, a swing? Do you prefer quiet and focus without any noise? Do you have a toy or plant on your desk you fiddle with when you’re trying to think or just need to destress?

Another question; do you actually use the toys and playful apparatus in the office? The office I currently work in has a ping pong and air hockey table, but only two people ever use the ping pong table, and I have only seen the air hockey table turned on once for a promo video.

Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

community · creativity · environment

Creating Open & Collaborative Cultures through Play

A really great look at playfulness in a corporate environment.

Annemarie Steen

worrySince 2004 IBM conducts every two years a Global CEO Survey among global business and public sector leaders to research what keeps them busy (at night in bed). The survey consists of in-person interviews with (in 2012) over 1700 CEO’s worldwide.

More than half of all CEO’s see Human Capital, Customer Relationships and Innovation as key sources of sustained economic value (report 2012).

The findings (2010 & 2012) show a fast growing need for some critical capabilities of employees, in order to deal with the complexity of operating in an increasingly volatile and uncertain world. These include; creativity and creative leadership, collaborativeness, connectedness, communication and flexibility.

To foster these capabilities “CEO’s are creating more Open & Collaborative cultures – encouraging employees to connect, learn from each other and thrive in a world of rapid change. The emphasis on Openness is even higher among Outperforming organizations(*) – and they have the changemanagement-capabilities to make it…

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