behavior · community

Building gardens to promote community

Before I share my ideas for the latest OpenIDEO challenge, I wanted to capture some of the ideas I submitted for their challenge “How might we inspire and enable communities to take more initiative in making their local environments better?

Here is my first one:

Community gardens create ownership, a sense of place, and shared goals

Community gardens provide green space, community ownership, local landmarks and create a communal space for people to share, and beauty as well as food!

Urban farming and agriculture has exploded in popularity in the United States, and . community gardens are now present in all 50 states. These communal green spaces can be as small as a parking space or as large as a few acres. They can be used to produce food, act as filtering systems for urban runoff such as rain gardens, or simply grow flowers.
Research is finding that these gardens are beneficial to communities for numerous reasons. First, these gardens provide green space and support the local environment, from migrating birds and bees to potentially filtering urban runoff. Second, they can often supplement vegetables for communities who live in densely urban areas where it can be hard to access fresh fruits and veggies through a grocery store. Third, these gardens create a sense of ownership not only for those working actively in the garden, but anyone who lives in the neighborhood. Creating this sense of ownership for a small space makes it more likely that communities will work together to protect and save larger green spaces, such as beaches or parks, that the community can share and enjoy in.
Community gardens are easy to set up and maintain, with minimal initial investment other than some seeds and a shovel. The key to success would be the need to designate a leader at first to spearhead the building and maintaining of the garden, to teach others and look over things until the garden was established and other knowledgeable gardeners began to work the space, or new gardeners who learned from experience in the community garden. The garden leader would need to be able to lead but not “own” the garden, but rather make it accessible for all community members.

behavior · brain · creativity · happiness · health · mental health · play

6 Tips to Stay Playful Your Entire Life

Stella meets a friend on the trail.
A good way to stay playful: be open to new creatures and experiences. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Happy Friday! Lately on Fridays I’ve been sharing my next great adventure destination, but this weekend that destination is staying put! And boy am I gonna have fun doing it! 🙂

For those of you who are also staying home this weekend and don’t know what to do about it, or maybe you had a loooooong week and you know you need to inject some fun into your day but your brain is so fried you can barely talk or type straight, here are some great suggestions from Remembering to Play. In fact, they recommend these tips for living an overall playful life, not just a playful day or two (although that is certainly a good start):

1. Play with movement:  Children have a wider range of body expression than adults.  We tend to move our bodies in the same, often rigid and predictable way. When walking down the street try moving your body differently. Start in small ways. Swing your hands in a different way, bounce your head from side to side, or shift your shoulders back and forth, one at a time. After a while try something bigger. Zig zag or walk backwards or sideways, or skip over the lines on the sidewalk. Or while walking in your office hallway twirl around one time…or perhaps more than once, tap the walls, or strut like you just made a million dollars for your organization!  Walk like you are the bees knees…because you are!
2. Play with perspective:  Instead of always looking straight ahead, or in your usual direction, look up or down, and in a direction you would not normally point your eyes. You may notice something different that you have never seen before.  A bird, a lovely coloured leaf, a funny looking cloud, a happy couple cuddling. It is easy, especially in big cities, to point our nose to ground and plow forward. Let’s remember that life is not about getting there but rather enjoying the ride. As you point your eyes in new directions, you never know what you might see, and what may come about from this new perspective.
3. Play with words/conversation: Whether it is, How’s it going, How was your day, or our conventional ways of starting a Monday morning meeting, we have many verbal or conversational routines.  It takes awareness and creativity to inject something new and fresh into the mix. For instance, instead of saying Hello to your friend, you could say Hey Hey, what do you say!?  Instead of calling your friend by their name, give them an unexpected nickname. Call them Sunshine or Peaches. (For over three years, a friend and I have consistently called each other Steve. It still brings us and others a good chuckle!) Or start your meeting off by having everyone share the last time they had a really good laugh. Read Creative Connections for more ideas.
4. Play with your surroundings:  What you surround yourself with either feeds or depletes your creative, authentic Self.  How often do you watch the news? Is the TV blaring in the background? What books do you read?  Do they inspire you?  What colour are your walls and what pictures do you hang from them. What music do you listen to?  Could you play more music in the background, say when cooking dinner or cleaning your home?  Do you have plants, or earth coloured tones in your home? Who do you spend your time with? Do your friends support your playful, authentic Self?  Can they hold space for the fullness of You?  Part of living a playful life is creating the container for playful living, and this means being clear on what supports or does not support authentic living.
5. Play with diverse activities:  As creatures of habit, it is easy to always order the same food, buy the same groceries, visit the same theatre and run the same route. Play means looking up when we normally look down, turning left when right is our regular choice. As we expand our range of choices and travel down new paths, we improve our brain functioning by building new neural pathways, and open to new possibilities. So instead of always seeing a movie, go to a live show instead. Instead of always eating the same meals, try to make one new meal a week.  Join a class, take a spontaneous road trip, visit a local museum, volunteer your time for a good cause, talk to a homeless person, pay for your friend’s meal, stop to smell a flower, play with a dog that is waiting for its owner, organize a games night, or start a book club. Do one thing different and you never know who you might meet or what adventure may unfold!

6. Play with your smile:  A single smile can change someone’s day for the better. I have experienced this when feeling a bit down, someone offers me a warm smile and suddenly I can feel my heart again. Life is not so bad anymore. In the same way that a picture is worth a thousand words, so too is a smile. So share your smile freely and fully. And share your smile with You as well. When feeling down, close your eyes and imagine a soft, warm, loving smile slowly appearing inside you. Allow it to get brighter, filling you with joy and light. Let your inner, playful spirit smile at you from the inside.

Read the original article.

Have a play-filled day! It will help you be more productive at work overall.

architecture · behavior · community · environment · Nature · play

Exploring some of London’s most playful spaces and places

Interesting exploration of the playful spaces around London:

an example of a playground toured in London last fall.

I’m still buzzing after last weekend’s Open House play space tours. Why?

Simple: I saw some inspirational work, and had some immensely rewarding conversations.

We took a meandering and surprisingly green route across most of the NDC area to Radnor Street Gardens.
This is one of London’s best examples of a ‘playable space’ – in other
words, a space where offering opportunities for play is only one of the
jobs that has to be done. My work for the GLA
[pdf link] helped to embed this idea in London’s planning system. In my
view, it is fundamental to the success of public play facilities in
almost any urban area.

What struck me was how the programme combined park, amenity space and
play projects, along with streetscape and highways initiatives, so that
the whole far exceeded the sum of its parts. The ingredients we saw
included [*deep breath*]: new play spaces and toilet blocks in parks and
estates, new public squares from reclaimed street space and car parks, ‘home zone’-style
shared road surfaces, landscaped road closures, greening up an
adventure playground, estate-based allotment projects, cycle lanes,
shared use ball game areas, pushchair-friendly pavements, even (on one
estate) new refuse bin sheds with green roofs. Her approach to
engagement was revealing. Local people were closely involved at all
levels, right up to the NDC board. However, they were seen not simply as
‘stakeholders’ or ‘consumers’, but as people who needed to be inspired,
debated with, and (hopefully) won over.

Read more of Exploring some of London’s most playful spaces and places.

I think this is a great idea; just as we have garden tours, we should have playground tours! Areas that introduce parents and officials alike to playful, fun spaces to take their kids.

This blog actually has some great conversations about play and the need for children to get outside and play more.

via Exploring some of London’s most playful spaces and places.