Thursday, May 31, 2012


Found on futurelab......... I am always interested in their research and development of ideas and think this is really great.

"Infocow is a social site designed to connect 14-19 year-olds with useful stuff to help take control of life - sites, stories, information and inspiration. It’s made for and created by young people and links to hundreds of different websites and sources of information that can help young people to make positive changes, whether that’s finding out what to do after GCSEs, or what the first steps are to leaving home."

I also think the website design is wonderful.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Every park should have one of these.

Or maybe a whole herd of them....

Michelle Obama

I have posted, in the past, about Michelle Obama's efforts to get America outside and active with her organization called Let's Move. She has now published a book called "American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America", about her journey on planting a vegetable garden on the White House lawn in 2009.

It also includes some recipes and history about kitchen gardens across America. All the proceeds will go to the National Park Foundation for schemes that promote gardening and healthy eating – and towards the upkeep of the White House garden. Really nice.

School Grounds: TEDx Nottingham

Great video by Mary from Learning Through Landscapes.

From my home town as well.....

Friday, May 25, 2012

A happy ending....

to a very sad story, of Leuser, a Sumatran orangutan who was rescued from being sold as a gift, reintroduced to the wild only to be captured again by villagers who shot him repeatedly for fun.

The photo above is of his mate and twins....

Thursday, May 24, 2012

International Living Future Institute

It's so exciting to hear about a non-profit that focuses on sustainability, imagination and innovation...

"The International Living Future Institute is a non-governmental organization (NGO) committed to catalyzing a global transformation toward true sustainability. We seek partnerships with leaders in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors in pursuit of a future that is socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative. "

Chelsea Fringe

Much the same as the Edinburgh Fringe, the Chelsea Fringe has sprung up from the Chelsea Flower Show to create a grassroots movement encompassing all of London.

"The Fringe is a brand new initiative, entirely volunteer-run in its first year. It’s all about harnessing and spreading some of the excitement and energy that fizzes around gardens and gardening. The idea is to give people the freedom and opportunity to express themselves through the medium of plants and gardens, to open up possibilities and to allow full participation.........  It will range from grassroots community garden projects to avant-garde art installations. Our open-access principle means that just about anything goes – as long as it’s interesting and on the subject of gardens, flowers, veg-growing or landscape."

I'm a little late with this as it started on the 19th June, but it is running for 3 weeks so there is still time to see it if you're in the area.

My favourite idea so far is from the photo to the left, seed bomb making at the DIY allotment. Kids will love it.

Adrián Villar Rojas

If I was wondering through my local forest and came across this.............WOW. I absolutely love it.

Via this is colossal.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Beacon Rise Primary School

Play England/Love Outdoor Play have posted an excellent article about Beacon Rise Primary School's outdoor playgrounds visit from OFSTED.....

Noted for "the outstanding quality of play"...... "the inspectors acknowledged that the schools’ excellent play opportunities supported good learning behaviours."

Chris, the Head Teacher, pointed out the significance of the change in language around behaviour and play.

In the past they would have talked about quiet, well-behaved compliant children. When the inspector was here we had a child hit in the face with a football and all of the usual bumps scrapes and falling out. They were far more interested in how we foster behaviours which supported good learning – isn’t that what play is all about?”

tgo: the great outdoor gym company

As their website says about The Green Heart, a playground that uses human-generated electricity for lighting the zone at night time, to extend the usage of the facility into the evenings:

"It’s green, it’s shiny and it lights up at night.

It’s great for your health and it generates electricity.

It encourages kids and adults alike to learn about their health, energy generation and energy consumption."

Sounds brilliant.
(Plus it's made in Britain, nice to see some local enterprise and no outsourcing.....)

That's Daley Thompson in the photo, wow, I was a huge fan..........

Monday, May 21, 2012


What a great way to start the week..... Pandas playing.

Via The Kid Should See This.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Children’s Risky Play from an Evolutionary Perspective: The Anti-Phobic Effects of Thrilling Experiences


"This theoretical article views children’s risky play from an evolutionary perspective, addressing specific evolutionary functions and especially the anti-phobic effects of risky play. According to the non-associative theory, a contemporary approach to the etiology of anxiety, children develop fears of certain stimuli (e.g., heights and strangers) that protect them from situations they are not mature enough to cope with, naturally through infancy. Risky play is a set of motivated behaviors that both provide the child with an exhilarating positive emotion and expose the child to the stimuli they previously have feared. As the child’s coping skills improve, these situations and stimuli may be mastered and no longer be feared. Thus fear caused by maturational and age relevant natural inhibition is reduced as the child experiences a motivating thrilling activation, while learning to master age adequate challenges. It is concluded that risky play may have evolved due to this anti-phobic effect in normal child development, and it is suggested that we may observe an increased neuroticism or psychopathology in society if children are hindered from partaking in age adequate risky play."

WOW. Read the full report from the team at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Map of Life

I can't get enough of maps, just love them....

So I got very excited when I saw this interactive map that "allows you to explore globally the geographic distributions for any terrestrial vertebrate species (as well as North American freshwater fish)."

Follow this link and go and play...

At an urban L.A. school, nature grows — and test scores too

NBCLatino Reports: Harvesting New and Improved Science Test Scores from NBC News on Vimeo.

Such a great story...... A school in a high density neighbourhood of Los Angeles, tore out it's tarmac and planted native species.

"Three years ago, the school's standardized test scores in science for fifth-graders showed that 9% were proficient and none were advanced. Last spring, 53% of fifth-graders tested as proficient or advanced."

Can't argue with that. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Animals Save The Planet

 I'm 4 years late with this post but I never had the Animal Planet cable channel so would never have seen these anyway. The one above is my favourite, such a cute penguin and every household should have one, but there are loads more if you follow this link.

Made by the wonderful people at Aardman.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Environmental biodiversity, human microbiota, and allergy are interrelated

According to a report by a group of scientists from Helsinki,

"Rapidly declining biodiversity may be a contributing factor to another global megatrend—the rapidly increasing prevalence of allergies and other chronic inflammatory diseases among urban populations worldwide."

The BBC have posted an article about the study and findings, containing interviews with the scientists involved and other links to similar research going on, i.e. one study showed a link between the lack of green spaces and higher stress levels among people living in urban areas described as deprived and another study that found that good walkable access to local shops, services and green spaces doubled the chances of an older person achieving the minimum recommended amount of walking - 2.5 hours each week.

While it is scary to think that if we live in cities our children will develop asthma and allergies, I for one, think that a study such as this can seriously start to influence policy and planning sooner rather than later and that is really exciting and a giant step in the right direction. Especially when they end their abstract with:

"These results raise fundamental questions about the consequences of biodiversity loss for both allergic conditions and public health in general."

I'm on board and raring to go.

The photo above is of a proteobacteria and a type of gammaproteobacteria, called Acinetobacter, was singled out in the study as being "strongly linked to the development of anti-inflammatory molecules". Kind of cool and freaky looking at the same time.....

Monday, May 7, 2012

Brendan Grimshaw

What a fantastic life this man has had and continues to have...... Truly inspiring.....  Plus he's from Yorkshire, need I say more?

Link to the BBC story here.


"We have managed to harness the power of the wind, the sun and the water, but have yet to appreciate the power of our children to affect social change."

Mary Gordon, founder of the Roots of Empathy education programme.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Benjamin Zander

One of the best TED talks I've ever seen..... (along with Sir Ken's, of course....)

Project H

Here's a great non-profit, started by Emily Pilloton, using the power to design to change communities and public education.....

They have a six-tenet design process:

1. There is no design without (critical) action
2. They design WITH, not FOR
3. They document, share and measure
4. They start locally and scale globally
5. They design systems, not stuff
6. They build

This "results in simple and effective design solutions that empower communities and build collective creative capital.

We design, build, teach, and transform."

There is also a great talk over at TED by Emily Pilloton, check it out. Inspiring.....

Friday, May 4, 2012


Up to 90% of school leavers in major Asian cities are suffering from short sightedness, in comparison to 20 to 30% in the UK.

The cause, according to Professor Ian Morgan's study, from the Australian National University, is

"students working very hard in school and missing out on outdoor light."

.............. missing out on outdoor light."

Check out the full article at the BBC.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Another great website with tons of resources..... I'm mentioning this today because they have posted their Five Minute Film Festival with 11 videos on the theme of school gardens and it follows nicely on from my previous post.

The one above is the first in the list, but check it out, maybe there's another one you'd rather watch...

The Edible Schoolyard

I wrote a lonnnnngggggg time ago about Alice Waters fantastic book called "Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea" and just found out that they now have a wonderful website (love the design) with tons of resources and the ability to join the network and share your ideas.

Become a member today....

Inspire.  Nurture.  Steward.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A National Conversation on the Future of Our Communities: USA

The Smart Growth Network in the US are interested in new ideas for community planning, design and development.

It will be "the first national conversation about how neighborhoods could be planned, designed, and developed to meet the needs of current and future generations." Now that's something to get excited about...... along with the statement from them where they believe "that the larger the circle, the richer the discussion, generating better ideas for communities."

If this is something you would like to be part of, check out the website. The deadline is June 30th.....

Fab building above by Belgian architects, Samyn and Partners.