behavior · community · creativity · emotion · happiness · language · Nature · play · Social · writing

Email-a-Tree Service Turns Into Love Letters to Melbourne’s Urban Trees

This is beautiful.

We humans love nature.

And now, the residents of Melbourne have found a way to express it.

The city of Melbourne assigned trees email addresses so citizens could report problems. Instead, people wrote thousands of love letters to their favorite trees.

“My dearest Ulmus,” the message began.

“As I was leaving St. Mary’s College today I was struck, not by a branch, but by your radiant beauty. You must get these messages all the time. You’re such an attractive tree.”

This is an excerpt of a letter someone wrote to a green-leaf elm, one of thousands of messages in an ongoing correspondence between the people of Melbourne, Australia, and the city’s trees.

Officials assigned the trees ID numbers and email addresses in 2013 as part of a program designed to make it easier for citizens to report problems like dangerous branches. The “unintended but positive consequence,” as the chair of Melbourne’s Environment Portfolio, Councillor Arron Wood, put it to me in an email, was that people did more than just report issues. They also wrote directly to the trees, which have received thousands of messages—everything from banal greetings and questions about current events to love letters and existential dilemmas.

“The email interactions reveal the love Melburnians have for our trees,” Wood said. City officials shared several of the tree emails with me, but redacted the names of senders to respect their privacy.

Read more of the love letters via Email-a-Tree Service Doesn’t Go As Planned, But in the Best Possible Way – CityLab.

I bet this is something Seattle could really get behind, or San Francisco, or Chicago, or any city with multiple older trees.

Do you have a tree that you love or loved? Write your city about it, or on Twitter, or if you’re feeling shy you can share it here in the comments.

creativity · play · Social · writing

A Videogame That Teaches You to Write Poetry, Even if It Intimidates You | WIRED

I don’t know if I would find this inspiring or not… thoughts?

Videogames and poetry haven’t always gone hand in hand.

We’re still a long way from Master Chief breaking into a Coleridge soliloquy. But game developers Ichiro Lambe and Ziba Scott have edged us a bit closer to that day with Elegy for a Dead World, a game they Kickstarted in October and released on Steam last month.

Elegy lets players write prose and poetry as they explore distant planets and dead civilizations. The player faces 27 challenges in three worlds, each riffing on a specific British Romance-era poem: “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley, “When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be” by John Keats, and “Darkness” by Lord Byron.

The different challenges find the player in various roles: an emperor rallying his troops before a doomed battle, for example, or a schoolgirl evacuating a city being bombed. Players travel through beautifully designed backgrounds, while on-screen text narrates the story. But much of the text is left blank—that’s when players tap their inner Wordsworths, finishing the tale with their own imaginations.

Throughout their adventure, players are tasked with using several writing styles: Plugging in blanks in prompts like serious Mad Libs, writing poems in rhyming couplets, or going totally freeform.

via A Videogame That Teaches You to Write Poetry, Even if It Intimidates You | WIRED.

behavior · creativity · happiness · writing

Finding time to do what you love is harder than it sounds

creativity
Image by Sean MacEntee via Flickr

Shared by Orangette and What The Cool Kids Are Reading, an article by Anne Lamott about finding time to do the activities that truly fulfill you:

…creative expression, whether that means writing, dancing, bird-watching, or cooking, can give a person almost everything that he or she has been searching for: enlivenment, peace, meaning, and the incalculable wealth of time spent quietly in beauty.

…the bad news: You have to make time to do this.

This means you have to grasp that your manic forms of connectivity—cell phone, email, text, Twitter—steal most chances of lasting connection or amazement. That multitasking can argue a wasted life. That a close friendship is worth more than material success.

more via Finding time – Sunset.com.

It’s harder than it sounds theoretically (I can certainly testify to that), but I also agree with Lamott that it is sooo worth carving out time for.

What are you willing to give up in order to achieve your creativity goals? So far I have given up what little TV I already watched and this week living off the giant roast and yams I made on Sunday (it’s now Thursday), rather than attempting to create a brand new gourmet meal every night.

What are you willing to sacrifice in order to get the creative need filled?

architecture · Social · technology · writing

Booklust of the week

I am a little worried it was supposed to be released more than a year ago and I can’t find any updates, but…

Play All Day documents a collection of the most vibrant, stimulating and engaging design products and concepts for children. This book sets a new standard of design for children with fascinating examples of innovative and well-designed toys, playgrounds and play environments, room decorations, wall coverings, furniture and kindergarten architecture. In addition to these products, it also presents illustration and photography as well as new and original ideas offering playful solutions that talented designers and creative parents are designing for and with their kids. It is an inspiring reference for design-savvy parents and other professionals.

more at the Play All Day publisher’s website.

Social · writing

Crafternoons happening RIGHT NOW in NYC Public Library

If you live anywhere near the New York Public Library, go go go right now now now! And then tell me all about it. 🙂

After a talk with Julia, you and fellow attendees will work with the artists to create a collaborative craft project inspired by the book — a classic exquisite corpse, a hand-sewn double-bound book, a giant scroll, or even a crowdsourced short story. Supplies will be on hand (including some amazing images from the NYPL’s image collection) and all you have to do is show up because it’s FREE! So if you’re in town, stop by, get crafty, meet the artists and enter a raffle to win a free copy of the book! (Books will be available for sale, as well.)

Thanks for the tip at Design*Sponge » Blog Archive » crafternoons: the exquisite book + d*s event poll.

Social · writing

Mary Catherine Bateson on Domesticity – NYTimes.com

garden art at Dr. Bateson's New Hampshire farm

A nicely written article in the August 25th edition of the New York Times on anthropologist Dr. Mary Catherine Bateson (Margaret Mead‘s and Gregory Bateson‘s daughter) on her latest book which looks at domesticity, homemaking, and what it means to be part of a couple.

In Dr. Bateson’s parlance, homemaking is … a metaphor for community, for the design of an environment — professional or domestic or societal — that challenges and supports its inhabitants, an ideal closer to the arrangement of a Samoan village than a perfectly appointed living room. “It’s critical that home not just be a place that you use whatever is there, but that it be a place you are truly responsible for,” she said. “It’s not just your home and you get to mess it up.”

Homemaking, she added, is also a metaphor for longevity, a way of looking at the second stage of adulthood that precedes old age — what she calls “adulthood II” — which is the subject of her new book.

Yes, it’s a sequel to her 1990 meditation on the stop-and-start nature of women’s lives, except that this time she has invited men into the conversation.

more at At Home With Mary Catherine Bateson – Mary Catherine Bateson on Domesticity – NYTimes.com.

Social · technology · writing

Open Diary: Chronicling The Hidden World Of Girls : NPR

It’s not too late to submit! Be a part of the story on NPR’s Open Diary: Chronicling The Hidden World Of Girls.

one submission to the Flickr account

As part of the Hidden World of Girls project, we’re looking to create a database of intimate diary entries. With enough of them, they could form a comprehensive tapestry — from elation to depression — of life experiences. We already have a small collection on Flickr.

How Can You Help? Submit pictures or scans of your diary’s pages — or even the pages of your mother’s diaries or grandmother’s diaries.

How To Submit: Photos should be submitted through The Hidden World Of Girl’s Flickr group. Or if it makes things easier, just upload them anywhere and leave us a link to the picture in the comments section. We will be getting in touch with you through Flickr mail or through the e-mail address provided when you sign up for an NPR community account. On Flickr, you’ll know if you’ve submitted photos correctly if they show up here.

via Open Diary: Chronicling The Hidden World Of Girls : NPR.

Nature · writing

A Flowering Tribute To Emily Dickinson : NPR

What a great combination of nature, poetry, history, and how museums contribute more than just dusty history lessons.

Emily Dickenson

Dickinson loved nature and was an avid gardener, and now an exhibition at the New York Botanical Garden called Emily Dickinson’s Garden: The Poetry of Flowers is putting on display a side of the poet that is little known.

Gardening was a huge part of Dickinson’s life and her art. “I was always attached to mud,” she once wrote, and a sophisticated understanding of plants and flowers is reflected in her poetry. According to Gregory Long, the president and CEO of the New York Botanical Garden, Dickinson used to tuck little poems into bouquets of flowers that she gave to her neighbors.

more via A Flowering Tribute To Emily Dickinson : NPR.