community · culture · happiness · music · play

Seattle’s Pianos in the Parks program encourages park discovery through music

Ah summer, which in Seattle brings out swimmers, cyclists, picnickers… and pianos!

It’s music to our ears: the pianos are back. After a successful first campaign, Pianos in the Parks will be returning for a second season on July 16. The month-long program will add to additional pianos to the roster this year, totaling 22 pianos in Puget Sound-area locations. Seattle Parks and Recreation will host 11 pianos in public parks.

The program, led by Laird Norton Wealth Management, is designed to encourage the discovery of parks through music and art by placing one-of-a-kind, artist-designed upright and grand pianos in parks and public spaces across King County including Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Mercer Island and Sea-Tac, for free public use and music exploration.

All 22 previously owned pianos are procured, repaired, tuned, transported and maintained by Classic Pianos; and are painted by student, alumni and faculty artists of Gage Academy of Art.

The specific parks and public spaces which will host the pianos through Aug. 16 will be announced at a public kick-off celebration from noon to 1:30pm on Thursday, July 16 at Lake Union Park – See more at: http://parkways.seattle.gov/2015/07/08/pianos-in-the-parks-encourage-park-discovery-through-music/#sthash.vq7rBMDn.dpuf
The specific parks and public spaces which will host the pianos through Aug. 16 will be announced at a public kick-off celebration from noon to 1:30pm on Thursday, July 16 at Lake Union Park (860 Terry Avenue North) near the park’s model boat pond in downtown Seattle. At the celebration, local artists who painted the pianos will unveil their works of art – followed by a musical performance in which all 22 instruments will be played by local pianists. Also participating in the event are a number of musicians, city and county officials, and program partners. Following the unveiling, the public will have an opportunity to view all 22 pianos, meet the artists and be treated to additional musical performances. – See more at: http://parkways.seattle.gov/2015/07/08/pianos-in-the-parks-encourage-park-discovery-through-music/#sthash.vq7rBMDn.dpuf

via Pianos in the Parks encourage park discovery through music.

There will be a public “opening” of the pianos from noon to 1:30pm on Thursday, July 16 at Lake Union Park (860 Terry Avenue North) near the park’s model boat pond in downtown Seattle.

The pianos will welcome park-goers in their respective locations thru Aug. 16. During this time, people of all skill levels and musical persuasions are urged to enter a Pianos in the Parks video contest for a chance to perform as part of the Seattle Center’s Concerts at the Mural presented by KEXP 90.3 FM on Friday, Aug. 21. Entrants simply need to upload a video of their performance using one of the participating pianos to the Pianos in the Parks website, http://www.pianosintheparks.com beginning July 16.

Find a piano, take a picture or video of yourself with it, and share with the world!

from noon to 1:30pm on Thursday, July 16 at Lake Union Park (860 Terry Avenue North) near the park’s model boat pond in downtown Seattle – See more at: http://parkways.seattle.gov/2015/07/08/pianos-in-the-parks-encourage-park-discovery-through-music/#sthash.vq7rBMDn.dpuf
architecture · children · community · design · environment · health · mental health · play · school

Changing Skyline: Redesigning playgrounds to promote ‘loose play’ – think pop-up play spaces

Great article about the evolution of the playground, as well as the next generation of playgrounds emerging in cities:

After World War II, European architects turned out custom playgrounds that challenged kids both physically and intellectually. Inspired by their work, a few American architects, including Philadelphia’s Louis Kahn, tried their hands at the form. But the movement didn’t get very far. Playgrounds were a casualty of the breakdown of American cities in the ’60s and ’70s. As maintenance was deferred, they fell into ruin. By the time cities began to recover in the ’90s, Solomon says, all that local officials wanted was equipment that was indestructible and vetted for safety.

Moore, a professor at North Carolina State University who has been studying children’s play for 50 years, sees a connection between those designs and the increase in such childhood ailments as obesity, anxiety, and attention-deficit disorder. In the simple act of scrambling up the branches of a tree, a kid learns to monitor risk and deal with fear. But on most playgrounds, the climbing frames are lower than ever.

The concern about such controlled environments has sparked any number of popular books advocating less programming: Free Range Kids, 50 Dangerous Things (you should let your children do), Last Child in the Woods. All see our culture’s fear of risk as worse than the occasional scraped knee or broken bone.

So what’s the alternative to standard-issue playgrounds? Solomon envisions multipurpose, multigenerational urban parks that incorporate spaces where kids can take charge of their own play. Instead of a fixed bridge in a plastic fort, they would have to use their imagination to decide which objects could be converted to play equipment. Such a challenging play space also would include nooks where kids could temporarily escape the nervous gaze of their caregivers. There would be no fences, plenty of trees and bushes, and good seating.

read more of their ideas for better playgrounds via Changing Skyline: Redesigning playgrounds to promote ‘loose play’ – think pop-up play spaces.

My favorite playground growing up was made of mostly huge sewer pipe pieces, a monkey cage, and random cement shapes. What was your favorite playground as a kid? Or now? Describe it in the comments below.

anthropology · behavior · community · culture · environment · happiness · health

Los Angeles has Cancer — Stephen Corwin on Medium

This is a scathing opinion piece looking at the negative influences of space and place, specifically cars and car culture. Corwin argues passionately against the takeover of cars in to the city space and how it is anything BUT enriching. It is full of examples of what NOT to do, and therefore offers suggestions on how to solve it.

Our experiences driving cars in this city are, for the most part, fleeting. We drive somewhere, we get out of the car, we close the door, and we walk away. But to think that we can escape the world that cars have created as easily as we escape the car itself is foolish. In fact, when we leave our cars, we walk into that world. We have to live in that putrid mess.

Let’s talk about how Los Angeles is a city where construction projects can fence off whole blocks, including the sidewalks, without offering people on foot an alternative. Let’s talk about how when that happens, no one even considers converting one of the two car lanes into a temporary sidewalk, because dear god, that might cause slight inconvenience to people in cars. And let’s talk about how ironic it is that inconveniencing people in cars is the end of the world, but doing the same to people on foot is a non-issue. Then let’s talk about how when frustrated walkers decide to use the car lane rather than take the ridiculous detour, the city’s totally acceptable solution to that problem is not to concede space to those people, but rather to bolt permanent, metal signs into the middle of the sidewalk to keep them from doing so. That is cancer.

read the whole thing via Los Angeles has Cancer — Medium.

It is worth a read.

behavior · creativity · culture · happiness · Social

10 Ways to Make Your Life More Playful

As we start summer, remember to spend some time playing! Here are 10 tips how.

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” ~George Bernard Shaw

I was 25 and traveling through Ireland by myself. I was in Cong, a rural small town outside of Galway. It was quiet. Very quiet. Even though I had met people on my trip, I was starting to feel lonely.

I was thousands of miles from home. I had nobody around who knew me well or cared for me, and in the days before cell phones or internet cafes, I couldn’t just get in touch with my friends or family at the drop of a hat.I went on a walk in a local park, along a wide stream that emptied into a small, pristine pond. The weather was grey and gloomy, the park was damp and romantic-looking, with its bending trees and dark water.

On a whim, I sat down by the edge of the pond and began to do something I hadn’t done in probably 15 years: I started to build a fairy village out of sticks, pebbles, and leaves.As a child I had practically lived in the backyard, building intricate tiny villages, exploring the spaces in between plants and trees, making tree roots into cottages and lumps of mud into hillsides.

It calmed me down and got me away from sometimes troubling thoughts. In Ireland, I found the same thing happened: My loneliness and anxiety vanished, and an hour or so later when I finished, I felt better: lighter, and less worried.

read all about the 10 Ways to Make Your Life More Playful.

community · creativity · play · Social

Bubble Bath Seattle 2014- Yay Today!

I don’t recall this parable from Dr. Seuss, but I like the idea of a bubblefest!

If you want to recapture your childhood this weekend, head to Cal Anderson Park in Seattle, WA, with a gallon or so of soapy liquid for Bubble Bath Seattle, the biggest bubble fight this city has ever seen.

From 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm, Cal Anderson will transform into a sea of bubbles. Evidently these events have been going on in New York for years, but it’s the first time that Seattle has ever seen something this epic. Organizers draw inspiration from Dr. Seuss’s The Butter Battle Book

more via Bubble Bath Seattle 2014- Yay Today!.

architecture · creativity · design · environment · Nature · play

Giant Living Sculptures At Atlanta Botanical Gardens’ Exhibition | Bored Panda

Beautiful sculptures, and a great way of being playful with gardening and making gardens more engaging for everyone.

Mosaiculture is an excellent art form for those among us with the green thumbs and the space to do it. An excellent example of this complex but beautiful artistic process would be the “Imaginary Worlds” mosaiculture exhibition at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens – these elaborate and massive green structures create mystical and fantastic worlds that are lush with living foliage.There is more to these amazing works of living art than meets the eye. Most of them begin with a steel frame of some sort, which is covered with steel mesh. This mesh is then covered with sphagnum moss and soil, which is seeded with all sorts of plants. Underneath the mesh, a network of irrigation channels supply water to the plants on the surface, helping them grow.

more via Giant Living Sculptures At Atlanta Botanical Gardens’ Exhibition | Bored Panda.

anthropology · architecture · behavior · community · creativity · culture · environment

The Playful City – Azure Magazine

A great article about how building playful spaces leads to more, and better, play.

Can playgrounds make kids smarter? Yes, say the experts, and landscape architects everywhere are responding. Welcome to outdoor play’s new reality.

All work and no play makes jack a dull boy. Granted, Jack does not lack for innovative toys and gadgets. But what Jack really needs is better playgrounds. These days, reality is exchanged for a simulation of reality, and the sandbox is abandoned in pursuit of the virtual. Cognitive scientists, however, are finding that the unstructured activity children engage in at the playground fosters the social and intellectual abilities they need to succeed in life. Monkey bars and swing sets present opportunities to develop new skills, encourage autonomous thinking and promote flexible problem solving – but they also shape the brain. This is good news. With technology taking over so much of our lives, increased pressure on children to compete academically at a much younger age, and helicopter parenting restricting play for fear of potential danger, many experts – such as David Elkind, psychologist and author of The Hurried Child – are drawing attention to the “reinvention of childhood.” It is time we also reinvent the playground.

more via The Playful City – Azure Magazine.

community · culture · play

I Played The World’s Largest Tetris Game | The Creators Project

A first-hand account of being involved in a large community-organized play event.

As much as I love Philadelphia, I never considered it a breeding ground for innovation, but over the past few years, the city has built up enough of a tech scene to spawn an entire week dedicated to celebrating it. To kick off its fourth year, Philly Tech Week gave locals the chance to play Tetris on the Cira Centre, a building conspicuous for bearing a grid of color changing LEDs that sometimes display the Phillies logo. It’s the second game Drexel University professor Frank Lee has brought to the Cira Centre, topping his giant Pong game last year. “What was gratifying for me about the Pong project last year was not that it was the world’s biggest videogame display, although that’s kind of cool. Rather, it was the sharing of the moment by the two people playing, the hundreds of people watching, and thousands of people across Philadelphia watching,” says Lee. Similarly, giant Tetris is more of an art project than a feat for the record books. Lee aims to create a social benefit, what he calls an “aesthetic of a shared moment.”

more details via I Played The World’s Largest Tetris Game | The Creators Project.

Just a fun side note: being part of a large collected effort, whether it’s volunteering at a beach cleanup or playing group Tetris, is very beneficial to mental health as well.

This past Saturday was International Pillow Fight Day, for example, and it received a lot of positive feedback from grown-ups who participated, even with the occasional mention of a hard hit. So pull out the cubes and let’s get it on!

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.

community · culture · design · happiness

Ear Sculpture Listens To Citizen Complaints

Making space for listening and being heard…

The normal procedure for submitting a complaint to the government is to write a letter, send an email, or make a long drawn-out phone call. In Seoul, South Korea, there’s an alternative – yelling into a giant sculpture shaped like an ear.

Designed by artist Yang Soo-in, and backed by the organization, Lifethings, the sculpture sits outside City Hall in Seoul. It symbolizes the fact that Mayor Park Won-soon and his administration are willing to listen to the people.Since it’s installation, Koreans have lined up to speak their woes or ideas for civic improvement into the impressively sized artificial ear.

more via Ear Sculpture Listens To Citizen Complaints [Pics] – PSFK.