community · happiness · mental health

North America’s Largest Urban Orchard Transforms an Old Gas Station in Downtown Vancouver | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

While most of my blog posts focus on playful design and things that create a playful atmosphere, a lot of us don’t have all of our basic needs met in order to be in a playful state. We are often overstressed, underslept, overworked, and detached from community. Play researchers have found evidence that goes along with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs that find we need these things in order to be ready to explore, create, and be healthy. That’s why I also like to talk about what it takes to get us to a space where we feel safe, healthy, and ready to be playful.

Going with the philosophy that gardening is good for the soul, as well as aiming for convenience, a group in Vancouver has opened a huge urban farm and orchard.

Vancouver’s Sole Food Farms has transformed an old gas station into North American’s largest urban orchard! Located in Downtown Eastside, the orchard provides jobs to recovering addicts and those with mental illness, giving them a chance to make a living while raising organic food. The organic fruit, along with produce from three other sites, is sold to local restaurants and grocery stores.

more via North America’s Largest Urban Orchard Transforms an Old Gas Station in Downtown Vancouver | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building.

Adding green space to a city, whether it’s a garden, park, or a single tree, has also repeatedly shown to be valuable even to those who just observe the space, they don’t need to even be actively engaged in maintaining it. The garden adds connection to and investment in the land, which is good for building community, and provides a sense of agency for those who might not otherwise have one.

Where have you seen community gardens spring up? What works, what doesn’t? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

community · creativity · environment · play

Introducing Park-A-Park: Vancouver’s Recently Launched Mobile Parklet | Spacing Vancouver

Have you ever wandered into a neighborhood or parking lot and thought, “Wow, this space could use a nice mini-park, or even a bench.” Well, here you go!

A colorful banner pasted alongside the bin’s rough exterior cheerfully announces ‘Park-A-Park’, the mobile parklet that launched on Vancouver’s Commercial Drive at the tail end of July. The bin reaches just over three feet high, its inner walls are ringed with wooden bench seating, and planters and tables mingle inside to offer a charming, yet functional environment. The unit is capped by a shade-providing umbrella, and one end of the bin lies open, like a drawbridge, coyly beckoning passersby to enter.

A partnership between Emily Carr University of Art + Design and local Urban Interventionist Julien Thomas, Park-A-Park has been designed to transform an industrial disposal bin into an aesthetic mobile park that can be transported, parked, and enjoyed throughout the city. The unit is a component of Emily Carr’s chART project and aims to support public art and community engagement through creativity and innovation.

more via Introducing Park-A-Park: Vancouver’s Recently Launched Mobile Parklet | Spacing Vancouver.

For more information, you can also visit: www.parkapark.com.

This is reminiscent of PARK(ing) Days in the U.S. where people take over parking spaces in cities and turn them into mini-parks.

Where have you seen mini-parks, or think there should be one? Leave your ideas in the comments below.

anthropology · behavior · community · disease · education · environment · health · mental health · Social

How the places we live could heal us | Grist

This is an interesting follow-up/add-on to the RadioLab “Cities” episode I blogged about a couple of weeks ago. The Healing Cities Working Group of planners and health professionals in Vancouver, BC is working to create healthy environments in urban areas, particularly focusing on food and food sources.

It’s possible to interest public officials in the health impact of the built environment because Canada has nationalized health care.

“When you have a public health care system like we have in Canada, we all collectively pay the end-of-pipe costs,” said Holland. “So anything we have in our society that makes us unhealthy, we end up paying for it.” Of course, that’s true in the United States as well, but there is much less transparency and awareness of those costs because of the way our system is set up.

In Canada, Holland hopes to be able to involve doctors and public health authorities in the fight against sprawl and for more walkable and transit-oriented neighborhoods. Among the Healing Cities Working Group’s many planned initiatives is a partnership with health officials to advocate for more health-enhancing infrastructure and development at the local level.

via How the places we live make us sick, and how they could heal us instead | Grist.

Other studies have found that greener neighborhoods also decrease stress and make people more likely to walk or bike places. Where you live, what have you found works best for you personally to motivate you to get you outside, moving, and buying less insta-food?