Friday, July 25, 2014

The Serious Business of Play

Photo Credit: Hannah Rosin

“The Land” in Wales is a playground that could almost be mistaken for a junkyard at first glance. The playground is filled with plywood structures, stacks of tires, tools, wheelbarrows and other odds and ends. Adults (not necessarily the parents) keep an eye on activities but stay on the fringe, keeping out of the business of play. Permissible play at The Land even includes  working with fire and knives, hence the adult supervision. The philosophy of the playground is to let children learn about physical threats and realities through play, and develop risk assessment and caution throughout the process. Kids love it.

The Atlantic recently posted an article titled “The Overprotected Kid”, in which it compared the autonomy today’s children are given in their free time and play compared to earlier generations.

Reading the Atlantic article reminded me of my own childhood in a small town in the Midwest. There was a fort made of scrap wood, complete with a rug and a discarded broom for sweeping out the pine needles that fell inside. I’m sure my parents knew about the fort, but they certainly never accompanied us there. My brother and I rode our bikes for miles with our friends. We roamed for hours and had to be home by the time the streetlight near our house turned on.  There was an old gas station turned dime shop full of “not-quite-antique” trinkets and collectibles, and a campground that had a pool table and a selection of candy for sale. There were also corn fields, train tracks, patches of woods, an abandoned junkyard, etc. There were a few restrictions, such as the active rail yard at one end of town. But we set pennies on rails for trains to flatten, spied frogs and fish in little creeks, rode our bikes up the embankments below overpasses and sheltered there during rainstorms.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

It’s a matter of trust. Not of mistrusting kids, but of mistrusting the world outside to harm them through intent or accident. I don’t know if I would grant the same level of free reign to kids of my own in the same town today. But do kids suffer from being unable to build their independence and judgment through free play? Is pre-fab play equipment enough?
Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

For 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do), read the book by Gever Tulley or check out the following website.
Pro tip- you don’t need to tape pennies to the tracks. They stay put.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Design. Build. Transform.

Design. Build. Transform.

Congratulations.  You made it to Friday.  Looking for an inspiring movie to watch this weekend?  

Try "If You Build It", a short film that  “follows designer-activists Emily Pilloton and Matthew Miller to rural Bertie County, the poorest in North Carolina, where they work with local high school students to help transform both their community and their lives. Living on credit and grant money and fighting a change-resistant school board, Pilloton and Miller lead their students through a year-long, full-scale design and build project that does much more than just teach basic construction skills: it shows ten teenagers the power of design-thinking to re-invent not just their town but their own sense of what’s possible” 

#1 - Emily Pilloton with Studio H students CJ Robertson and Stevie Mizelle. From IF YOU BUILD IT, a Long Shot Factory Release 2013_small

#10 - The completed Windsor Farmers Market at dusk. From IF YOU BUILD IT, a Long Shot Factory Release 2013. Courtesy of Brad Feinknopf_small

Sponsored by Journeyman International and ConsciousBuild in San Luis Obispo, this film was shown at the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival this year.

My hope in sharing this film with you is that you will be re-inspired to share your passion with others who do not recognize design and why it is important to a community.

Official Trailer:
**Unfortunately only the trailer is available unless we use "tugg" to lure them VA for a showing of the film!!

Friday, July 11, 2014

You Are Here Study Maps

You Are Here Maps
TGIF to the viewers!
For this week’s YEOW, we’d like to share with you the You Are Here Study.

Check out the maps by topic to see how cities compare across a range of interesting evaluations. Of particular note is the Best Mode of Transportation map that will show you the quickest means of transportation to another part of town based off of your selected location.