Friday, December 20, 2013

Wishing you all a wonderful fairytale filled Christmas


And a Happy New Year. 

I leave you in 2013 dreaming of sustainability, connectivity and thoughtfulness in the shape of this beautiful fairytale home built by Simon Dale for just £3,000.



Imagination Foundations 2013 Global Cardboard Challenge Video Contest Winners



Fantastic to see kids outside and being creative. Hats off to the Imagination Foundation for inspiring everyone to do just that.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Brian Sutton Smith

"The opposite of play is not work. It's depression."

By Brian Sutton Smith

RSA Shorts - The Power of Empathy


Note to self: no more "at least"..........

Monday, December 16, 2013

Bee Raw


It's always nice to hear about a thoughtful, concerned business owner and Zeke Freeman at Bee Raw is just that.

"........ [the owner] actively promotes the importance of American family-owned apiaries and works to educate the public about beekeeping and its vital role in agriculture. Freeman is committed to supporting artisanal beekeepers and farmers by ensuring that they receive a premium price for a premium product.

Finally, and possibly closest to Zeke’s heart, the Bee Raw Foundation was formed in 2013 with a mission to help save endangered bees and promote crucial-to-the-planet sustainability."

Follow this link to take the pledge to save the bees.

Found via GOOD.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Wildflowering in my old hunting grounds - LA


On the theme of rewilding urban sites Fritz Haeg has created a rehabilitation project called Wildflowering L.A., in which native wildflower seeds were sown at 50 sites across Los Angeles County this fall.

He has partnered with Los Angeles Nomadic Division and the Theodore Payne Foundation, an organization that promotes preservation of California native flora and an old favourite of mine.

Article here.

A 140 acre forest is about to pop up in Detroit

"Hantz Woodlands (formerly known as Hantz Farms), has reached a deal with the State of Michigan to purchase 1,500 parcels of non-continuous land for the price of half a million dollars and plant urban forestry in place of blighted and derelict properties that scatter the landscape."




Will Beckers


Fantastic willow artist Will Beckers.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Dog and fox form a friendship fit for fables


"Once upon a time, deep in a Norwegian forest, a man named Torgeir Berge and his dog Tinni came across a wild animal that would change their lives forever: a fox Berge named Sniffer that grew to be the dog’s best friend."

And so starts an article over at Cottage Life. Check out the rest of the article if only to see more photos.

Delightful.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Schoolyard Farms



Love, love, love it.

Schoolyard farms gets my vote.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Buddy Bench



We are in good hands with thoughtful, kind and resourceful kids like Christian Bucks.

Friday, December 6, 2013

When Great Trees Fall by Maya Angelou

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance,
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
caves.

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.


Thanks to Brenda for introducing me to this beautiful poem that reminded her of the passing of Nelson Mandela.

Nelson Mandela 1918 - 2013

Thursday, December 5, 2013

School's Out: Lessons from a Forest Kindergarten



I found out about this film through an interesting article over at Slate.

Details about the film and how to buy it are here.

Wonderful.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Child in the City

The 7th "Child in the City" conference on child friendly cities is being held in Odense, Denmark next year, between 29th Sept and the 1st Oct.
"The conference will provide a platform to disseminate good practice, share experiences and test new ideas with a world-wide network of practitioners, researchers, academics and policy-makers."

They are calling for papers: no later than 31 January 2014.
 

Monday, December 2, 2013

The kids don’t play any more

"In hunter-gatherer societies, children play constantly until late adolescence. But today, as Prof. Whitebread observes, play has been almost squeezed out of their lives by a risk-averse society, by our separation from nature and by our widespread cultural assumption that “earlier is better.”"

Excellent article by Margaret Wente at The Global and Mail.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Real Life Mowgli


Who wouldn't have loved to have had a little slice of this little girls childhood........Tippi Degre, daughter of French wildlife photographers, spent her childhood in Africa.

Her parents have now published a book called Tippi of Africa. Wonderful.

Via Bored Panda.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Guilty

"The 2012 Greendex survey found that people in poorer countries feel, on average, much guiltier about their impacts on the natural world than people in rich countries. The places in which people feel least guilt are, in this order, Germany, the United States, Australia and Britain, while the people of India, China, Mexico and Brazil have the greatest concerns. Our guilt, the survey reported, exists in inverse proportion to the amount of damage our consumption does. This is the opposite of what a thousand editorials in the corporate press tell us: that people cannot afford to care until they become rich. The evidence suggests we cease to care only when we become rich."

From George Monbiot's latest column at The Guardian.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Red List reveals conservation successes, but extinctions continue apace


The International Union for the Conservation of Nature's latest Red List of Threatened Species shows a bleak picture.

"The red list now contains assessments of 71,500 species, including all mammals, birds and amphibians. The latest update added more than 1,000 species. Of the species understood well enough for a judgment to be made, more than a third are under threat. About half of known reptiles have been assessed and a third of fish, but only a fraction of invertebrates, plants and fungi.

Habitat destruction, hunting and the introduction of alien predators as a result of human activity are causing the greatest mass extinction of species on Earth since an asteroid strike wiped out the dinosaurs 65m years ago."

The lovely giraffe/okapi above is prized for its meat.....

Quote above from an article over at The Guardian.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

75 Seriously Fun Ways to Make Your Town More Playful



Over at Community Matters is an excellent list of fun things to do to make your town my playful.....

Too many good ideas to pick one out. However....... the photo above is of Lego bombing.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Seth Godin's brilliant advice

The first lie...

is that you're going to need far more talent than you were born with.

The second lie is that the people who are leading in the new connection economy got there because they have something you don't.

The third lie is that you have to be chosen.

The fourth lie is that we're not afraid.

We're afraid.

Afraid to lead, to make a ruckus, to convene. Afraid to be vulnerable, to be called out, to be seen as a fraud.

The connection economy isn't based on steel or rails or buildings. It's built on trust and hope and passion.

The future belongs to those that care and those that believe.

link

Grateful Schools, Happy Schools

Really interesting article over at the Greater Good (University of Berkeley) on a study researching gratitude in children.

Testing a group of elementary school kids, ages 8 to 11, Jeffrey Froh, a pioneering researcher, focused on three types of appraisals that make people feel grateful:
  • That someone has intentionally done something to benefit us
  • That providing this benefit was costly to them
  • That the benefit is valuable to us
"Overall, this study suggests that even young students can learn to look at the world through more grateful eyes—and that they may become not only more appreciative but also happier as a result."

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Grow, cook, eat


Daylesford Primary School in Australia
Daylesford Primary School, to talk about the benefits of the school's kitchen garden program and he's stuck for words. There are so many, he says, he doesn't know where to start.
"In a garden there is nature, science, maths and vocabulary; in a kitchen it's the same. It crosses over into so many areas of the curriculum," Burke says.
- See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/executive-living/grow-cook-eat-and-learn/story-e6frg9zo-1226755147029#sthash.45UMhbsN.dpuf

"Once a week, students from Years 3-6 spend an hour in the regional Victorian school’s kitchen garden, learning how to grow things.

The next week they spend 90 minutes in the adjacent purpose-built kitchen, learning how to cook what they’ve grown. And then they all sit down to share a meal, learning a skill increasingly under threat in the modern era: how to eat. Not just for nutrition, but for the social skills integral to a shared meal, for dining etiquette, setting the table, using cutlery and more."

And, there's a book
learning how to grow things. The next week they spend 90 minutes in the adjacent purpose-built kitchen, learning how to cook what they've grown. And then they all sit down to share a meal, learning a skill increasingly under threat in the modern era: how to eat. Not just for nutrition, but for the social skills integral to a shared meal, for dining etiquette, setting the table, using cutlery and more. - See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/executive-living/grow-cook-eat-and-learn/story-e6frg9zo-1226755147029#sthash.45UMhbsN.dpuf
learning how to grow things. The next week they spend 90 minutes in the adjacent purpose-built kitchen, learning how to cook what they've grown. And then they all sit down to share a meal, learning a skill increasingly under threat in the modern era: how to eat. Not just for nutrition, but for the social skills integral to a shared meal, for dining etiquette, setting the table, using cutlery and more. - See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/executive-living/grow-cook-eat-and-learn/story-e6frg9zo-1226755147029#sthash.45UMhbsN.dpufv
Daylesford Primary School, to talk about the benefits of the school's kitchen garden program and he's stuck for words. There are so many, he says, he doesn't know where to start. - See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/executive-living/grow-cook-eat-and-learn/story-e6frg9zo-1226755147029#sthash.45UMhbsN.dpuf
Daylesford Primary School, to talk about the benefits of the school's kitchen garden program and he's stuck for words. There are so many, he says, he doesn't know where to start.
"In a garden there is nature, science, maths and vocabulary; in a kitchen it's the same. It crosses over into so many areas of the curriculum," Burke says.
- See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/executive-living/grow-cook-eat-and-learn/story-e6frg9zo-1226755147029#sthash.45UMhbsN.dpuf
Daylesford Primary School, to talk about the benefits of the school's kitchen garden program and he's stuck for words. There are so many, he says, he doesn't know where to start.
"In a garden there is nature, science, maths and vocabulary; in a kitchen it's the same. It crosses over into so many areas of the curriculum," Burke says.
- See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/executive-living/grow-cook-eat-and-learn/story-e6frg9zo-1226755147029#sthash.45UMhbsN.dpuf
Daylesford Primary School, to talk about the benefits of the school's kitchen garden program and he's stuck for words. There are so many, he says, he doesn't know where to start.
"In a garden there is nature, science, maths and vocabulary; in a kitchen it's the same. It crosses over into so many areas of the curriculum," Burke says.
- See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/executive-living/grow-cook-eat-and-learn/story-e6frg9zo-1226755147029#sthash.45UMhbsN.dpuf

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Parks 2050: Growing food, curbing floods, cleaning air

"The globally homogenised landscape aesthetic – which sees parks from Boston to Brisbane looking worryingly similar – will diminish in importance as future urban green space will be attuned to local values and cultural perceptions of beauty.  This will lead to a far greater diversity of urban landscape designs than are apparent today.  Already, we are seeing new purposes for urban landscaping that are transforming the 20th century woodland park into bioswales – plantings designed to filter stormwater – green roofs, wildlife corridors, and urban food gardens."

From an article by Diane Pataki over at BBC Future.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Quokka


That's how I feel today. Like the Quokka, who is apparently the happiest animal in the world....according to the internet community.

It's got my vote (local elections in Denmark today, mine's going to the Quokka).

Donald and Barbara Zucker Natural Exploration Area, Prospect Park Alliance, Brooklyn New York, 2013



Excellent post over at playscapes on the Donald and Barbara Zucker Natural Exploration Area in New York.

Well worth checking out her critique as to why it is so successful.

I have a clearing in the forest near me that they recently converted into a natural play space...... very similar to this one. I don't know how lucky I am.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Lumholtz's tree kangaroo


The Lumholtz's tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus lumholtzi) lives in an irreplaceable nature reserve in north Queensland, Australia and has been recognised as such by an international team of scientists.

Over at The Guardian are more photos of the other reserves under threat, such as the rainforests of Madagascar and the elephant-rich hills of western India.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Forest change mapped by Google Earth


Fab..... BBC article about a new high-resolution global map of forest loss and gain created with the help of Google Earth charting changes from 2000 to 2012. 

It's now in front of us, we can see it. There's no argument now.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Free play is more important than organized sport

Videnskab posted an article about sports researcher Glen Nielsen's PhD project  called "Children 's Daily Physical Activity", at the University of Copenhagen.

It is in danish but is worth reading (google translate), as he followed more than 500 Danish and 500 New Zealand children and put accelerators (motion sensors) on them to monitor their levels of activity.

Here's a part roughly translated:

"The vast majority of children's physical activity going on as so-called ' self-organized physical activity ' in the schoolyard or at the youth center where the intensity is as high as in recreational and school sports .

"It was very surprising how much of children's physical activity that comes from what might be called free play, while organized sports had only a very small contribution to the total volume of activity ," says Glen Nielsen."


change.org


City Planners: Design streets to support walking instead of cars. 
I just headed over to change.org to sign a petition to city planners: 

Design streets to support walking instead of cars. 
If you're interested, head over there and then pass on the word.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Super Typhoon Haiyan

Heartbreaking to hear about the typoon in the Phillipines. If you want to help, here's an article over at the Huffington Post with links to different charitable organisations where you can donate.

Monday, November 11, 2013

20-Year-Old Hunter S. Thompson’s Superb Advice on How to Find Your Purpose and Live a Meaningful Life


Brainpickings posted a wonderful article on Hunter S. Thompson's letter to a friend on finding your purpose.


"Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living WITHIN that way of life."

Friday, November 8, 2013

Hans Rosling: How much do you know about the world?

Hans Rosling put together an "ignorance quiz" for the BBC.

Huge Hans Rosling fan and I love a good quiz. I won't tell you how I did, but will say I was ashamed I knew so little.....

Also check out his 5 good things.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Sustainia Awards 2013


I was very happy to be part of this last night, at the Sustainia Awards in Copenhagen.



ASTEP



Just found out about this wonderful non profit organisation.

"ASTEP connects performing and visual artists with underserved youth in the U.S. and around the world to awaken their imaginations, foster critical thinking, and help them break the cycle of poverty."

They are always looking for volunteers.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The secrets of the world's happiest cities

Excellent article by Charles Montgomery over at the Guardian about what makes a city a great place to live.

A taster:

"There is a clear connection between social deficit and the shape of cities. A Swedish study found that people who endure more than a 45-minute commute were 40% more likely to divorce. People who live in monofunctional, car‑dependent neighbourhoods outside urban centres are much less trusting of other people than people who live in walkable neighbourhoods where housing is mixed with shops, services and places to work."

Monday, November 4, 2013

Michelle Obama joined by Elmo and Rosita to promote healthy eating



Sesame Workshop are waiving their licensing fee for its Muppet characters for two years, so they can encourage kids to eat their fruits and vegetables by seeing their favourite characters on all types of healthy produce in the supermarket.

What's not to love?

Article over at the Guardian.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Naomi Klein: How science is telling us all to revolt

Naomi Klein, the author of “The Shock Doctrine” and “No Logo”,  has written a thought provoking article for The New Statesman about climate change and it's power to start a revolution.

".........there is still time to avoid catastrophic warming, but not within the rules of capitalism as they are currently constructed. Which may be the best argument we have ever had for changing those rules."

Well worth reading.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween


The most amazing pumpkin carvings by Ray Villafane and his team of professional sculptors, from Michigan.

via The Guardian.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

World's fluffiest bunny


This has been doing the rounds..... but I couldn't help it. I had to join in.

via Incredible Things

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Three Questions for Tech Education Pioneer Scot Osterweil

Wow..... just read what Scot Osterweil has to say about education and technology.

Here's a little teaser.

"We’ve always seen technology as a way of increasing productivity and saving labor. And now that we’re actually reaping those benefits, we don’t know what to do about it.

What we really need to do is to give people back free time. The real challenge to education is to educate people on how to use that free time. So we have a choice. We can either have people sitting around idly, slack-jawed, watching TV and wandering the malls, or we can really teach them how to be lifelong learners and lifelong makers. We can unleash their creativity and encourage them to recognize that their playfulness is actually a productive activity, even if it isn’t used for work."

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

This stunning photograph by Etienne Francey, was runner up for the young photographer category in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 competition and captures exactly how I feel today.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Why the 'Sit-able City' is the Next Big Idea

Interesting article over at Sustainable Cities Collective by Charles R Wolfe, about how "The Sit-able City" is better than the walkable city.

"Sitting, in order to rest, converse, beg and sell is what people have always done, and captures a major part of urban life." 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Just one in five UK children 'connected to nature', groundbreaking study finds

A new report by the UK's RSPB, from a three-year research project, found that only 21 per cent of children in the UK have a connection with nature......

Dr Mike Clarke, RSPB Chief Executive says:

 “Nature is in trouble, and children’s connection to nature is closely linked to this. The recent State of Nature report shows that nature in the UK is being lost at a dramatic rate. We can all take action to put nature back into childhood, to ensure young people have better lives and a better future.

“For the first time, we have created a baseline that we and others can use to measure just how connected to nature the UK’s children really are. By adopting this new approach, we can all monitor children’s connection and we are recommending that governments and local authorities take action to increase it through policy and practice decisions.”

Friday, October 18, 2013

Barbara Roberts - Mother of all Hedgehogs


Barbara Roberts - Mother of all Hedgehogs from RJMannPhotography on Vimeo.

Amazing.

Sugata Mitra

The man behind the Hole in the wall schools, Sugata Mitra, talks about his new project, a classroom in the clouds, over at BBC Future. Check it out, I can't share their video here so you have to follow the link to the Beeb website.

Fantastic.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

How a Radical New Teaching Method Could Unleash a Generation of Geniuses

Over at Wired, an excellent article about education.........

"The [education] system as a whole educates millions and is slow to recognize or adopt successful innovation. It’s a system that was constructed almost two centuries ago to meet the needs of the industrial age. Now that our society and economy have evolved beyond that era, our schools must also be reinvented."

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Grand Rapids Urban Forest Project



Friends of Grand Rapids Parks is a citizen driven, non-profit in Michigan State that states:

"Our goal is to maximize the tree canopy in all parts of the city, making sure it’s healthy, safe, protected and well maintained so everyone in Grand Rapids can experience the cultural, social, economic, public health, and environmental benefits of trees."

Urban Forests. You've got my vote.. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pop-Up Playhouse



SCH + ARC Studio produced this idea for repurposing underused spaces in Philadelphia.

"Pop Up Playhouse proposes a prototype for play to reactivate abandoned sites as places to learn and interact with the architecture of the city."

Great.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Walk Bike to School



Today is walk, bike to school day in America. Check out the website to see how you can get involved. Fab.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

George Monbiot: The problem with education? Children aren't feral enough

Article at The Guardian by George Monbiot about kids, outdoors and well, you get the drift. 

"In the woods the next day we paddled in a stream, rolled down a hill, ate blackberries, tasted mushrooms, had helicopter races with sycamore keys, explored an ant's nest, broke sticks and collected acorns."

I'd love a day like that.....

Monday, October 7, 2013

Phyto Kinetic: Green Roofs for City Buses


A green roof on a city bus, what's not to love.

By Marc Grañén, from an article found at Urban Gardens.

Friday, October 4, 2013

How Physical Fitness May Promote School Success

Article over at The New York Times about fitness and academic performance in schools. One group of researchers conclusion was:

“Reducing or eliminating physical education in schools, as is often done in tight financial times, may not be the best way to ensure educational success among our young people.”

Something we all know, but when a study proves it everyone goes "I told you so......" Sheez. If they'd just listened to us in the first place.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Fallen


I won't even try and explain this project myself, just quote from the website:

"The objective was to make a visual representation of 9000 people drawn in the sand which equates the number of Civilians, Germans Forces and Allies that died during the D-day landings, 6th June during WWII as an example of what happens in the absence of peace."

Sad, moving, beautiful and sad again.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Grit Survey

Over at Brainpickings is an interesting article about the book How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough and his writings on maths-teacher-turned-psychologist Angela Duckworth's studies and research into how self-control and grit impact success.

Angela Duckworth is from Penn State University so you can head over to their website Authentic Happiness website and can take the grit survey.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Project Wild Thing: The Wild Network



Update from the website: In January 2013 Swarm Partnership came on board with support from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and The Wild Network was hatched. The network is an open, growing collaborative group of organisations big and small seeking to tackle the many issues raised in the film and champion the wonders of being outside.

Also, the film is doing the rounds in the UK so check to see if it's coming to a cinema near you.

(I'm the no. 3,954 above.... just pledged to spend 30 minutes a day outside.)

Plant Life




Plantlife is an organisation that raisies the profile of wild flowers, celebrates their beauty, and protects their future.

Their website is full of information from growing wild plants to conservation and everything in between. A wonderful organisation and resource for all. Love their tag line.
 
Save it with flowers.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

10 Trees



I don't want to use this blog as promotional place for retailers but I found out about this Canadian company, 10 Trees, who will plant 10 Trees for every item purchased.

Their website has tons of information about the projects they are funding, their sources for the clothes they are selling and to be honest, I was impressed. Such a great model.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Dr Stuart Brown and The Power of Play

 
I have written about Dr Stuart Brown before, but any news regarding his work on the importance of play is good news.

He will be speaking at the Early Childhood Ireland's Global Gathering for Early Childhood in Dublin from 16 - 19 October.

There is also an interesting article about him in The Irish Times.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Theodore Roosevelt

"Comparison is the thief of joy."


Fly like an eagle



Hypnotic.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Felix Dennis plants his millionth tree



I wish I could say I've planted a million trees. Felix Dennis can, in partnership with The Heart of England Forest Ltd.

Poet and publisher Felix Dennis has plans to "plant and preserve a large native broadleaf forest in South Warwickshire, stretching from the ancient borders of the Forest of Arden – also known as Shakespeare's Forest – south to the Vale of Evesham.

To date, 2,500 acres of land has been purchased and planted with 1 million native broadleaf saplings – about the size of seven Hyde Parks in London – at a rate of approximately 300 acres a year, making it the world's largest privately planted forest."

That is an amazing feat. Full article over at the Guardian.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Mister Rogers defending PBS to the US Senate




We are big fans of Mister Rogers in our house and this is AMAZING. It speaks for itself.

David Attenborough's Rise Of Animals: Triumph Of The Vertebrates


 Tonight at 9.00pm on BBC 2 in the UK is David Attenborough's new two part series, Rise Of Animals: Triumph Of The Vertebrates.

"David Attenborough embarks on an epic 500-million-year journey to unravel the incredible rise of the vertebrates. He presents explosive new fossil evidence from a region he’s long dreamt of exploring – the frontier of modern paleontological research: China."

What are the chances of it being quite fabulous? I'm in.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hegdehog Street


An excellent website from the UK called Hedgehog Street, asking people to become Hedgehog Champions and rally support from the neighbourhood to create ideal habitats for them to thrive.

If you are in the UK, I would urge you to check out their website, sign up and receive a pack to get you started.

"The pack contains hedgehog factsheets which can be handed out to neighbours, posters to help advertise the project, tips and hints on how to get neighbours involved and how to keep them interested and a pack of action cards which explain what people can do in their gardens."

While I don't live there myself, the website was very informative and gave great tips to encourage hedgehogs to come and live in your garden (and eat all those horrible slugs that eat everything you don't want them to eat). Result.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The play deficit

"The decline in opportunity to play has also been accompanied by a decline in empathy and a rise in narcissism, both of which have been assessed since the late 1970s with standard questionnaires given to normative samples of college students. Empathy refers to the ability and tendency to see from another person’s point of view and experience what that person experiences. Narcissism refers to inflated self-regard, coupled with a lack of concern for others and an inability to connect emotionally with others. A decline of empathy and a rise in narcissism are exactly what we would expect to see in children who have little opportunity to play socially. Children can’t learn these social skills and values in school, because school is an authoritarian, not a democratic setting. School fosters competition, not co-operation; and children there are not free to quit when others fail to respect their needs and wishes."

An extract from an excellent article by Peter Gray about children's need for play. Please read it.

Jay Griffiths



Jay Griffiths, author of Kith, speaks at the RSA.



Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Scarecrow



After the huge success of their previous video, Back to the Start, Chipotle have done it again with a powerful message in The Scarecrow.

Fab.

Friday, September 13, 2013

What To Do When Lost In The Woods



Some sound advice from the U.S. Forest Service in 1946; just in case you fancy a visit to the woods over the weekend.
  1. Finding oneself is the test of man.
  2. Merely being out of sight of others in a strange forest gives a man the creeps — a natural feeling but a dangerous one. Never yield to it.
  3. Stop, sit down, and try to figure out where you are. Use your head, not your legs.
  4. Build a fire in a safe place.
  5. Don’t wander about.
  6. Don’t yell, don’t run, don’t worry, and above all, don’t quit.
  7. A thinking man is never lost for long. He knows that…he must remain where he is or push on to some definite objective, but not to the point of exhaustion…that someone will be looking for him, and strength in that knowledge makes hardships easier.
 Via Brainpickings.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Kew Gardens IncrEdibles



A part of Kew Gardens IncrEdibles festival is Sculptor Tom Hare's Fungi Fairy Ring, up to 4 m high willow sculptures of native edible fungi.

I wish there were more photos on their website, only because I won't get to see them in person. I have a feeling though, that photos won't really do them justice.

Monday, September 9, 2013

INDEX: Design to Improve Life




INDEX: Design to Improve Life is a Danish non profit focusing on inspiring, educating and engaging in designing sustainable solutions to global challenges.

They achieve this by:
Their website has some fantastic posts, really worth following.

On my own doorstep and I never knew...

Friday, September 6, 2013

Nordic Adventure Conference



I'm attending this conference next week. I'm really looking forward to it. If you are going too, let me know. I'd love to meet up.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Sea Otters



Possibly my favourite animals on the planet (aside from my lovely cat, the clue being that both have a very high cuddly factor) and apparently extremely useful as well....

According to a study by Brent Hughes of the University of California, Santa Cruz, they have returned to the Pacific coast in great numbers and the decline of endangered seagrasses in the region has been reversed.

Read more about it in a fascinating and witty article by John Finnemore at the Guardian, who also says;

"My favourite fact about sea otters, thanks for asking, is not that they use rocks as tools to break open shellfish on their chests, but that they then put this tool back in their pocket. Sea otters have loose pouches of skin in their armpits, and they store food and tools in them. How can you fail to admire an animal that not only uses tools, but has evolved itself a tool belt?"

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Boulder, Colorado



I had to post this, if only to help get the word out. It's an amazing achievement so far.

If you want to learn more, here's the link to their website.

British wildlife photography awards 2013



All kinds of stunning..... It was hard to pick just one to wet your appetite, so check out the other winners here.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Friday, August 30, 2013

Playworks update



I have blogged about Jill Vialet and Playworks before but it's always nice to see what they are up to.

The infographic above is the result of a new study released from Mathematica Policy Research and the John W. Gardner Center at Stanford University.

Oh and Jill Vialet wrote a good piece for GOOD about bullying, worth reading.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Manifesto for Higher Learning

Over at the Design Observer, Andrew Howard posted his manifesto that he shares with his incoming graduate students each year.

  1. No amount of ingenuity or creativity can create strong, clear, memorable design solutions from confused thought. This is why design is first and foremost a means of organising ideas. Design is thinking made visible.
  2. Opinion is welcomed but is not enough. Your ideas must be substantiated through facts and testing, through research and evaluation.
  3. Solutions will always vary according to context, interpretation and objectives. There are no absolute answers. Learn instead to ask the right questions.
  4. Regardless of any specific design interest or preference that you may have, in today’s world all designers need to develop a multi-form understanding that is able to respond to multiple communication needs and platforms. Thus multimedia is not a component of contemporary design, it is its definition.
  5. Beware of fashion – it encourages the idea that nothing is lasting and that you always have to be on the move. If you are never still you will never encounter profundity. Learn to stay in the same place and dig deeper.
  6. Take nothing for granted. Learn to question what you think you know. Remember that the extraordinary is as likely to reside in the ground beneath our feet as in the stars above our heads. Your ability will not simply be measured by your willingness to explore new ideas and new territory but also through the ways that you are able to apply new ideas to familiar territory.
  7. Critical thought being central to design does not make technical and craft skills secondary. Visual communication is not simply dependent on the power of thought. It is a process of making – of transforming ideas into tangible expressions. Thinking and making are not alternatives to each other. They are forces of reciprocal power within the design process. One cannot take place without the other.
  8. Every tool has its own characteristics, every visual technique its own expressiveness, and every form its own possibilities and limitations. Your success is dependent on your ability to manipulate that knowledge with skill and sensibility. You must learn your craft.
  9. Design does not exist solely in the realm of the intellect. The power to enlighten, to celebrate, to inform and to disturb expectations also lies in the capacity to make emotional connections. Always use your head but never forget your heart.
  10. You cannot succeed without commitment. You cannot thrive without passion. You cannot survive without pleasure. All these things, or their absence, will be reflected in your work. The resonance of design as a collective social project is in your hands.
Excellent stuff.

Centre for Sustainable Technologies


The Centre for Sustainable Technologies is a social enterprise that helps more people get into growing food.

Co-founder Lynette Warren has written a blog post over at the RSA about her RSA Catalyst-funded project to create vertical allotments.

It's called ‘GutterGrow’ and it was designed to be a flexible unit to grow vegetables and plants on balconies, small patios or any confined space.

Great idea.
 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Why video games may be good for you

Here's something I struggle with, my kids and video games..... This article over at BBC Future is very interesting and suggests that virtual violence triggering aggressive thought and anti-social behaviour is only a very small part of the story.


"A growing body of research is showing the flip side, though – video games can help people see better, learn more quickly, develop greater mental focus, become more spatially aware, estimate more accurately, and multitask more effectively. Some video games can even make young people more empathetic, helpful and sharing. As public debate on the subject is often highly emotive and polarised, and as more and more of us are becoming gamers, researchers say it is important to move beyond the generalisations that characterise much of the discussion."

Monday, August 26, 2013

Why the world is awesome in 60 facts



BBC Future posted this great video.

Adam Tomaszewski



Amazing macro photography of insects by Adam Tomaszewski. Compelling and disturbing at the same time.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Happy Friday



A little blast from the past............. enjoy.

(From the best Doctor Who...ever, in my humble opinion.)

The Secret to Finland's Success With Schools, Moms, Kids—and Everything

Very interesting article over at The Atlantic about Finland how it compares to America. Well worth reading.

"..........One advantage Finland did have, however, was enlightened policies towards gender. The country focused on beefing up child and maternal care in large part because women were at the core of Finland's independence and nation-building efforts at the turn of the 20th century. Finnish women were the second in the world to get the vote in 1906, and they were heavily represented in the country's first parliament.

Ellen Marakowitz, a lecturer at Columbia University who studies Finland, argues that because women helped form modern Finland, things like maternity leave and child benefits naturally shaped its welfare structure decades later.

"You have a state system that was built on issues concerning Finnish citizens, both men and women, rather than women's rights," she said. "Government was created in this equal footing for men and women.""

Thursday, August 22, 2013

London's largest living wall


This is a fantastic project by Gary Grant of Green Roof Consultancy.

To promote sustainable drainage systems and combat flooding, this hotel has installed 10,000 plants recommended to attract wildlife such as bees, butterflies and birds to the urban environment and it has been designed in an attempt to reduce local environmental issues such as surface flooding and air pollution. It will be irrigated by harvested rainwater caught on the roof.

Via Dezeen.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Rogan Brown


Stunning nature-inspired paper cut art by Rogan Brown. He quotes William Blake on his website.

"The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see Nature all ridicule and deformity...and some scarce see Nature at all. But to the eyes of a man of Imagination, Nature is Imagination itself."

Monday, August 19, 2013

Julia Cameron and The Artist's Way

Julia Cameron,  of The Artist's Way fame, is about to publish a new book, The Artist's Way for Parents.

“Every child is creative,” says Cameron, “And every parent is creative. Your child requires joy, and exercising creativity, both independently and together, makes for a happy and fulfilling family life.”

Very exciting.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Olinguito



Let us all welcome the Olinguito, the first new carnivore identified in the western hemisphere for 35 years.....

The story behind it is that it seems to have been a case of mistaken identity, many people thinking it was an olingo and there were even failed attempts to breed it in a zoo, as a mate from a different species was offered and it wasn't having any of it.

Lovely Friday story, better than hearing about declining species....

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

LEGO



And while we are on the subject of LEGO...... the CEO of the LEGO Foundation, Randa Grob-Zakhary, spoke at the 2013 LEGO Idea Conference in April on creativity.

"On average, 98% of three year olds have genius levels of creative thinking. That means almost everybody here today was a creative genius as a child. Between 0-3 you developed in a way that meant your brain constantly took new and different approaches to the issues you faced in the play pen and the high chair. But ask yourself – do you think you’d score that well if you were tested today? Would you consider yourself a creative genius? You may well be, but the reality is that just 2% of people over the age of 25 retain that level of creativity."

The International School Of Billund & LEGO



This is a school I know my boys would love to go to, one initiated by The LEGO Foundation. The International School of Billund will provide creative, high quality academic programmes to students aged 3 to 16 years.

Their mission statement: "We guide and stimulate children to become ambitious lifelong learners who achieve personal fulfilment and who will make positive contribution to our ever-changing world. We believe this is consistent with the IB mission statement, which focuses on the idea of creating a better world through education."

Here's hoping they do wonderful things there (which I'm sure they will) and other schools around the world follow suit. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Shot@Life


Shot@Life is a United Nations Foundation movement to protect children worldwide by providing life-saving vaccines where they are most needed.

"By encouraging Americans to learn about, advocate for, and donate to vaccines, Shot@Life aims to decrease vaccine-preventable childhood deaths and give every child a shot at a healthy life."

There are many ways to get involved, check out their website.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Kid University by Paredes Pedrosa



 Stunning kindergarten in Gandia, eastern Spain by Paredes Pedrosa.

Head over to dezeen for more photos.

A Breathing Earth


An animated gif of one year of seasonal transformations on Earth. By John Nelson.


Stunning.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Edupunks' Guide



I'd not heard of this book before but "The Edupunks' Guide was written to be a first-of-its kind resource for the future of education: a comprehensive guide to learning online and charting a personalized path to an affordable credential using the latest innovative tools and organizations. This guide is full of people, programs, and ideas that are part of the future of learning."

They have also released a lovely looking interactive map, a sortable database of educational resources from the book and around the web.

I'm checking out this website for inspiration......

Via Swissmiss.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Block by Block, Brooklyn’s Past and Present



Beautiful interactive map of Brooklyn by Thomas Rhiel over at BKLYNR. Each block has been plotted and shaded according to its year of construction.

I am thinking about how that could apply to mapping nature and the urban forest in a similar way. Just something I've been mulling over, thinking about finding a way to either compare cities and their urban forests or look at how a city has lost it's nature over time......

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Nature Explore



This is a nice project, Nature Explore is a collaboration between Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation, with a goal to support your efforts to connect children with nature.

So, head on over if you have need of help or inspiration.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Gardens, not buildings

Seth Godin's insight is astounding.

"Great projects start out feeling like buildings. There are architects, materials, staff, rigid timelines, permits, engineers, a structure.

It works or it doesn't.

Build something that doesn't fall down. On time.

But in fact, great projects, like great careers and relationships that last, are gardens. They are tended, they shift, they grow. They endure over time, gaining a personality and reflecting their environment. When something dies or fades away, we prune, replant and grow again.

Perfection and polish aren't nearly as important as good light, good drainage and a passionate gardener.

By all means, build. But don't finish. Don't walk away.

Here we grow."

Costa Rica announces plans to close its zoos and release animals from captivity



Over at Treehugger is an article announcing that the Costa Rican government has announced plans to close its zoos, freeing creatures from their long captivity.

“We are getting rid of the cages and reinforcing the idea of interacting with biodiversity in botanical parks in a natural way,” said Environment Minister René Castro. “We don't want animals in captivity or enclosed in any way unless it is to rescue or save them.”

While I understand that zoos help with conservation, education and  future generations involvement in nature, I always come away from a visit to one feeling sad. So, this I like very much.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Beavers


 It's almost the weekend and as I've been reading "What has nature ever done for us?" about carbon capture I thought a post about how wonderful beavers are would be appropriate.

According to Ellen Wohl of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, "Beavers offer a mechanism of carbon storage," by building dams and creating wetlands where carbon is in the sediment and organic matter. (From an article over at the New Scientist).

I know that there is also a great project in Scotland, where they have reintroduced beavers back into the wild and it seems to have been a huge success.

So, bring them back, what's not to love?