Friday, December 16, 2011

An early Christmas present for me...

Better a broken bone than a broken spirit.

"Planning for Play" by Lady Allen of Hurtwood is available as a pdf download over at playscapes. I'm  on it.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Lets Move

The Let's Move campaign (started by Michelle Obama) in the US has a newly designed website with some great ideas on how to get adults and kids active. My favourite is "Plant a School Garden".

"School gardens offer opportunities for fun and physical activity while also serving as an important educational tool to help students understand how healthy food is produced and where their food comes from. Some research suggests that, when used as part of a nutrition education strategy, school gardens can increase knowledge of fruits and vegetables and influence behavior change among children.
  • Plant an indoor or outdoor fruit, vegetable or herb garden that students are responsible for tending to and growing. Enjoy the "fruits" of your labor at harvest time!
  • If resources are an issue, help students develop a partnership with local businesses, parents or other community groups such as the USDA Cooperative Extension Service. Many communities have “master gardener” programs that could help.
  • Incorporate school gardens into classroom lessons (e.g., science, cooking) to provide students with hands-on, multi-disciplinary learning activities. Food service staff can make students more familiar with the school garden produce through taste tests and learning food preparation techniques for a healthy meal.
  • Schools can further make the link between agriculture and nutritious food by inviting local farmers’ markets to operate from area school yards. "
Check out the new icon My Plate instead of the old food pyramid while you're there......

Queen Elizabeth II Field Challenge

Wow. This is fantastic.

A bit late but better late than never.....  Check out website here.

I wish I'd thought of this

We have these types of recycling bins here in Denmark and whenever I see them together they appear to be talking to each other or singing. Like funny little aliens...... So when I saw Timm Schneider's work, I just laughed. Brilliant.

I'm almost tempted to get a pair of "eyes" myself......

Again via Colossal.

Olsen Zander


Amazing photos from Olsen Zander, who has been wrapping trees in fabric in and around the UK for the last 10 years. 

Found via Colossal. Also check out the recycled plastic bottle Christmas tree in Lithuania post there as well.

How the World Works

Lovely book for kids that just won The Royal Society young peoples book prize. Find more pictures of it over at the Guardian, plus if there's still time and you live in the UK, there's a free giveaway.....

How the World Works. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Instead of leaving leaves there how about getting crafty (with or without your kids). These are truly amazing.

And there are so many more on Ko-Ko-Ko-Kids.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Tim Gill's Sow the Seeds report and more

Tim Gill posted over on his blog about a study he conducted in connection with his "Sow the Seeds: Reconnecting London's Children with Nature" report just released, of current studies showing the positive affects nature has on children.

As we all know, it's a done deal (because if you are here and reading this, you get it and you care). The problem is persuading the non-believers or the ones who don't care. Here's hoping Tim's report and Literary Review will do just that.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

20's plenty for us


Just heard about a grassroots campaign in England called 20's Plenty for Us, to slow traffic in residential areas to 20 mph. Now New York are getting on board.

There seems to be so much going on with their campaign that it's hard to know what to quote, but here's a little snippet:

20’s Plenty for Us welcomes the call by the EU Committee on Transport and Tourism for 30km/h (20mph) speed limits in all residential areas. 
........The Committee sets out specific measures to reach this goal and in its press release[1] identifies 20mph limits as key for protecting children :-
Protect Children
MEP’s call for a 30km/h speed limit in all residential roads and on single-lane roads without cycle tracks, to help cut the number of children under 14 years old killed by 60% and those seriously injured by 40%. They also say children should be taught road safety at the youngest possible age.
 Brilliant stuff. Check it out yourself.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

21 Ways to Plant a City

Richard Louv outlines ways Landscape Architects can get on board to green cities.

I think our profession has a huge responsibility to join the fight when it comes to greening and increasing nature in our cities and hope it won't become a lost opportunity in these tough economic times. Landscape Architects are the perfect profession to carry the torch and push themselves forward to be the change makers.

Check out the 21 ways in the link above, and plant some native plants while you're at it......

Monday, November 14, 2011

Solar Powered Internet School

This I love.

"Samsung this week unveiled its first Solar Powered Internet School in South Africa to help students in their studies without having to worry about electricity or Internet connectivity. The environmentally-friendly, transportable classroom is a perfect fit for Africa as it addresses one of the region’s biggest challenges – providing stable supply of electricity in rural areas."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Michael Chabon

I must have been living in my cave again as I haven't read any of Michael Chabon's books but saw this post over at Swissmiss and think I need to rectify that. This comes from his book called "Manhood for Amateurs".

“What is the impact of the closing down of the Wilderness on the development of children’s imaginations? This is what I worry about the most. I grew up with a freedom, a liberty that now seems breathtaking and almost impossible. Recently, my younger daughter, after the usual struggle and exhilaration, learned to ride her bicycle. Her joy at her achievement was rapidly followed by a creeping sense of puzzlement and disappointment as it became clear to both of us that there was nowhere for her to ride it—nowhere that I was willing to let her go. Should I send my children out to play?
There is a small grocery store around the corner, not over two hundred yards from our front door. Can I let her ride there alone to experience the singular pleasure of buying herself an ice cream on a hot summer day and eating it on the sidewalk, alone with her thoughts? Soon after she learned to ride, we went out together after dinner, she on her bike, with me following along at a safe distance behind. What struck me at once on that lovely summer evening, as we wandered the streets of our lovely residential neighborhood at that after-dinner hour that had once represented the peak moment, the magic hour of my own childhood, was that we didn’t encounter a single other child.
Even if I do send them out, will there be anyone to play with?
Art is form of exploration, of sailing off into the unknown alone, heading for those unmarked places on the map. If children are not permitted–not taught–to be adventurers and explorers as children, what will become of the world of adventure, of stories, of literature itself?”

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Anthropologist: Urnatur

Excellent project over at Anthropologie's online platform to support artists, called The Anthropologist (website, not project..). Urnatur is a wooded retreat in Southern Sweden.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


This has been making the rounds lately and rightfully so. Really lovely.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Creativity by Steve Jobs

"Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people. Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.” ~ Wired, February, 1995

(via swissmiss)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Bjarke Ingells

The well known danish architect Bjarke Ingells of BIG has joined forces with Trygheds Gruppen, a Danish insurance company ( I think......) to investigate how to use public space in new ways to encourage exercise.

Check out the video here, I know it's in Danish but you get to see some of his ideas (like the swings at the bus stop above).

Little tea leaf...

An Adelie penguin is caught on camera stealing..... Part of the Frozen Planet program coming soon on BBC TV. Check out the clip here.

(tea leaf is cockney rhyming slang for thief)

Children & Nature Network

I'm a big fan of Richard Louv.... and the Children & Nature Network have a lovely new website. Check it out and sign up for newletters etc. Nice.

The Right Year for Children

The Children's Commissioner for England announces a year of action for greater recognition of children's rights.

"A groundbreaking coalition of children and young people's charities, voluntary organisations and statutory bodies will join forces for a year of action to see greater recognition of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and to press for its systematic use and implementation across all areas of children's lives."

Plus they are holding a competition for children to design a new logo.... they also have a great interactive website for kids to get involved, design their own tree house online and much more.

Interactive play map:England

For all of you in England here is a really exciting development from Play England, an interactive map to find great places to play outside and also to contribute ideas yourself. Brilliant.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I've been saying this for years.....

"Plant a Tree, Boost Your Property Value" over at Good.

Plus, being around trees makes you feel good and that is a good enough reason for me.....

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A very sad day

I'm a huge fan of Steve Jobs so was sad to see that he passed away. Me and my apple will miss him and his innovations.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Jonah Lehrer

Really interesting article by Jonah Lehrer over at Wired, on a study exploring curiosity in young children with regards to science and how it's taught.

"When students are given explicit instructions, when they are told what they need to know, they become less likely to explore on their own. Curiosity is a fragile thing."

Also check out his column called "Love is the opposite of underwear".

"Whatever – don’t apologize for your obsession. Just be grateful you are obsessed with something, that you’ve found a goal worth getting gritty over. Because if your goals ever feel tedious, if you find them as unnecessary as that last bite of chocolate cake, then you’re never going to put in the necessary work. Grit requires passion. Grit requires love. And love is just another name for what never gets old. Love is the opposite of underwear. "

Nuf said. I'm gonna keep on keepin' on.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Too much, too soon?

A letter written to the Telegraph by more than 200 academics, teachers, authors and charity leaders stress that children's wellbeing and mental health is being undermined by modern life.

Aside from completely agreeing with everything said, this particular comment struck home.

“We call on all organisations and individuals concerned about the erosion of childhood to come together to achieve the following: public information campaigns about children’s developmental needs, what constitutes "quality childcare", and the dangers of a consumerist screen-based life-style; the establishment of a genuinely play-based curriculum in nurseries and primary schools up to the age of six, free from the downward pressure of formal learning, tests and targets; community-based initiatives to ensure that children’s outdoor play and connection to nature are encouraged, supported and resourced within every local neighbourhood, and the banning of all forms of marketing directed at children up to at least age seven.”

The article about the letter is here.

Studio School


Kids Closer to Nature iPhone App

Following on from their campaign to get kids outside, the folks at Arla have launched an app..... to help you find your closest green space. Only in the UK, I think. Still, it's a start.

Incredible Edible Todmorden

Here's a fantastic example to us all. The town of Todmorden has, in their own words,

".............taken to planting and growing veggies and trees round town, we’ve planted several orchards and there are more to come, and we’re working with public bodies round town to use their land – like the fire station and the railway station – or to work with them on their own Incredible ideas – like social landlord Pennine Housing.
Every school in the town is now involved in growing with us and we promote food-based learning for the community as a whole.

We’re reaching back into local memories and knowledge with our history project."

Every town needs this.... puts me to shame that I don't do more.

(Photo of food show at local school, courtesy of Todmorden.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Kacper Kowalski

The most amazing aerial photographs I've ever seen. Some of them definitely have an Andy Goldsworthy element to them.

Check out his website.

Wangari Maathai

A day late with this, but Wangari Maathai, Nobel peace prize winner, died yesterday. She was a Kenyan social activist and environmental crusader who founded the Green Belt Movement.

As written in the Guardian, the Green Belt Movement is described below,

What began as a few women planting trees became a network of 600 community groups that cared for 6,000 tree nurseries, which were often supervised by disabled and mentally ill people in the villages. By 2004, more than 30m trees had been planted, and the movement had branches in 30 countries. In Kenya, it has become an unofficial agricultural advice service, a community regeneration project and a job-creation plan all in one."

Friday, September 9, 2011


I have a feeling I posted about this organization before, or at least hope so seeing as they are celebrating their 15 th birthday.....

They are a non-profit in America dedicated to saving play for children. Aside from the projects and opportunities to get involved, their website also has a lot of resources about play, interesting articles, links etc. Really great.


Aidan and the secret of the Fibonnaci sequence in trees

A 13 year old, called Aidan, to be inspired by..... (not a photo of him above, that's Fibonnaci)

Just won Naturalist of the Year award with a project where he investigated the patterning of trees and then applied the results to solar power.

"My investigation asked the question of whether there is a secret formula in tree design and whether the purpose of the spiral pattern is to collect sunlight better. After doing research, I put together test tools, experiments and design models to investigate how trees collect sunlight. At the end of my research project, I put the pieces of this natural puzzle together, and I discovered the answer. But the best part was that I discovered a new way to increase the efficiency of solar panels at collecting sunlight!"

Monday, September 5, 2011

Play For Life

If you happen to be in Minneapolis on the 22 of September, try and make it to the two day Play For Life symposium. Maybe one day they will figure out how to host these kinds of things through skype so we can all watch and listen in.

Oh well.

Andrew Revkin: Dot Earth

Andrew Revkin hosts the Dot Earth blog over at the New York Times and wrote a really interesting post about outdoor experiences and environmental values. He quoted part of one of Richard Louv's latest blog post, which was really insightful.

While struggling with the idea of sustainability and how it suggests that things stay the same, a friend of Richard Louv's came up with an

"..........alternative to the word sustainability: “‘Thriveability’ is much more powerful, and helps elevate the focus and actions on higher principles….With children, do we just want them to survive or do we want them to thrive — the answer becomes obvious when you focus on the right question.”

Let's all thrive together.

(Thrive is also a charity in the UK "using gardens to change lives".)

Andrew Revkin: Dot Earth

Andrew Revkin hosts the Dot Earth blog over at the New York Times and wrote a really interesting post about outdoor experiences and environmental values. He quoted Richard Louv's latest blog post, which was really insightful.

While struggling with the word sustainability, a friend of Richard Louv's came up with the word an alternative to the word sustainability: “‘Thriveability’ is much more powerful, and helps elevate the focus and actions on higher principles….With children, do we just want them to survive or do we want them to thrive — the answer becomes obvious when you focus on the right question.”

Friday, September 2, 2011

RSA: Education for uncertain futures

Take the time to watch this really interesting talk from the RSA website.

One of the speakers is Keri Facer and I recently read her new book called "Learning Futures: Education, Technology and Social Change" which I would highly recommend.

Also check out The School of Everything, found via this talk.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

This is fantastic

Got a lump in my throat watching this. Good on the folks at Chipotle and I'm in awe of Johnny Kelly. Very talented indeed.

Found via Fast Co Design.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I love a happy ending

Otters are back in every county in Britain after being close to extinction due to polluted water quality. But great efforts have been made to clean up rivers and they are back!

Above is the trailer for "Ring of Bright Water".....

The BBC has a report with some great footage of them as well.

Monday, August 22, 2011


The world is where we live from WWF on Vimeo.

Not that I want to personalize animals but this a great video....

Saturday, August 20, 2011

the color of........... blog. Link.

The Learning Lab

The Learning Lab is a Dutch independent studio and think-tank focusing on "experimental deep learning ecologies for personal growth and social impact at the crossroads of academics, art, and social entrepreneurship."

They work with universities and high schools because as it says on the website:

Does today’s educational system provide the tools, opportunities and enough chaos in order for tomorrow’s pioneers to emerge?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Back to school waste:infographic

By Column Five Design this great infographic shows, for example, that 50% of school kids who live less than a mile from school are driven there, almost 80% of all waste could be recycled or composed.....

This reflects American statistics but how different is it from other countries?

Cute as a button

I don't think I need any excuse to post this photo....

Via the Guardian.

"Broken Britain" article about the looting and more.....

".......I think it has also led to daily lives built around the satisfaction of trivial desires. From the punctuation of the day with endless snacks to the burning desire for an expensive car to the instrumentalisation of education so that qualifications are a route to higher earnings rather than clearer thought and knowledge, we seem to have lost a sense of what it really is to be endlessly vigilant with ourselves, so that we can choose and create lives based on fully free consideration of the best way to live rather than the most satisfying way to live."

Quote from an interesting article by Adam Lent on RSA website.

Common Good

I have posted about Phillip K. Howard's website Common Good before but it has a whole new look, a blog and a recent interview with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show (above). Well worth checking out again.....

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I want one

A roof top vegetable garden, I mean. What a fantastic, creative way to get kids outside and in nature when they have little or no access to the outdoors. Every school, building, house, block of flats etc should have one.

It would take some retrofitting on existing structures but imagine the savings on heating, cooling, groceries, petrol to fetch the groceries.... and then your garden, if you are lucky enough to have one, could be a wildlife retreat, attracting all the birds, bees and insects that help with the vegetable growing. Ooooh, the possibilities.

Check it out here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Monday, August 15, 2011

Imagine Your Los Angeles Street Beyond Cars

Over at Good there are some great submissions in their "Imagine Your Los Angeles Street Beyond Cars" project. Having lived there and knowing how car based life is, it's hard to imagine but these illustrations are really imaginative.

Note: no cars = more people outside in nature......

(Photo by Ansel Adams)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The School of Life

Interesting premise and equally interesting courses at The School of Life.

Maybe we need a separate School of Life for kids where they hear about subjects other than the typical ones at school, where they can develop skills they are missing out on i.e. self reliance, independence, creativity...... oh, and it would be outside, of course.

I cheated with the photo but couldn't resist it.


Sorry to keep banging on about stuff happening in the UK, but it seems that exciting things are gaining momentum at the moment.

Sustrans is a UK charity making " smarter travel choices possible, desirable and inevitable......... We work with families, communities, policy-makers and partner organisations so that people are able to choose healthier, cleaner and cheaper journeys, with better places and spaces to move through and live in."

They just launched a website called Free Range Kids which speaks for itself.

Play England speaks out

Adrian Voce from Play England writes over at the Guardian about the lack of commitment to children's outdoor play from the new government.

"There is ample evidence that playing is a primary need for children, the lack of which renders them less able to concentrate, innovate, create, respond and negotiate: all crucial life skills, not least in the advancement of their formal education. Worse still, play deprivation can have profound implications for children's health: obesity, attention deficit disorder, rickets and depression are just some of the conditions linked to the sedentary indoor lifestyles that are an inevitable consequence of children being denied access to outdoor play."

These problems won't go away.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Kindergarten in Japan

For a way to connect children to nature on a daily basis this Kindergarten by Kezuka Architects is seriously fantastic. Wouldn't it be great if trees were incorporated into all forms of buildings, creating living and breathing spaces, that are calming and peaceful.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

News from Ireland

It's always nice to hear about another country getting on board with the nature/play movement. Here's a link to an article over at the Irish Times titled "Let those angels get dirty faces". Just to wet your appetite:

"For a child, Ireland should be one big green playground, yet it seems increasingly our children are sidestepping squelching through our country’s glorious woods, beaches, lakes, parks and mountains for merely interacting with metal, rubber and man-made locations. They are climbing play frames instead of trees, swimming in pools instead of the sea and clambering over soft play obstacles instead of rocks.

Ireland has one of the highest birth rates in Europe, but also one of the highest obesity rates. With 22 per cent of all five to 12 year olds overweight or obese, the long-term impact on our health system has been making the headlines."

Found via Children and Nature Network.

The HeArt Project

"The HeArt Project combats the epidemic high school dropout crisis with a long-term, sequential arts program offering a pursuable life path that inspires students to stay in school, evolve as unique individuals and flourish as creative adults."

Fantastic. I went to school at a time when art was still an integral part of the curriculum, luckily, otherwise who knows how I would have turned out......

Found via Good.

Celebrate Playday

If you're in the UK it is officially Playday today, the national day for play.

"On Playday thousands of children and their families get out to play at hundreds of community events across the UK.

As well as a celebration of children's right to play, Playday is a campaign that highlights the importance of play in children’s lives."

If you're not in the UK, maybe get your kids and/or yourself outside anyway and play. Go on....

The Nature Principle

I just received my very own copy of Richard Louv's new book and it's unputdownable (is that an actual word? Just googled it and it actually is..... who knew?). By the end of the introduction I was hooked, it's time to redesign the whole world so that everyone gets to feel the benefits of nature, I'll start today.

Get your copy and spread the word.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Your yard is evil

Great video for all you lawn obsessed people in America.

Not that I didn't practice what I preach..... I removed my front lawn when I lived in Los Angeles and replaced it with California natives and drought tolerant Mediterranean plants. It attracted so many birds, insects and bees we couldn't believe it. I have a feeling that our garden was the Whole Foods Market of the neighbourhood for the local wildlife.

Just do it.....

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lenore Skenazy

I have posted about Lenore Skenazy and her blog Freerangekids before but missed this great article she wrote for the Guardian last year.

I'm particularly interested in how risk has disappeared from our childrens lives due to the media, i.e. as Lenore writes:

"The stories that sell are the scary ones, which is why we keep hearing about the dangers to kids posed by food (choking), formula (additives), nappies (chemicals), blankets (smothering), toys (phthalate), school yards (bullies), playgrounds (injury), bedding (fumes), playmates (racism), books (leaded print), shopping carts (bacteria), car seats (asphyxiation), strollers (amputation), and dirt (dirt). Hard to remember that our kids are, all told, pretty safe! When I was born, four times more children died in infancy than now. When my parents were born, we had yet to eradicate polio. Or Hitler."

How can the design of open spaces encourage risk in play, increase confidence in parents that their kids are ok and ultimately allow kids to be free to come and go as they please?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Can a Playground Be Too Safe?

NY Times has an article about playgrounds and risky play.

" “There is no clear evidence that playground safety measures have lowered the average risk on playgrounds,” said David Ball, a professor of risk management at Middlesex University in London. He noted that the risk of some injuries, like long fractures of the arm, actually increased after the introduction of softer surfaces on playgrounds in Britain and Australia.

“This sounds counterintuitive, but it shouldn’t, because it is a common phenomenon,” Dr. Ball said. “If children and parents believe they are in an environment which is safer than it actually is, they will take more risks. An argument against softer surfacing is that children think it is safe, but because they don’t understand its properties, they overrate its performance.” "

Shocking.... well. we sort of knew.

According to new research done by Savlon and Play England UK over at Playday....

  • 42 per cent of children report they have never made a daisy chain
  • 32 per cent have never climbed a tree
  • A quarter of children today have never had the simple pleasure of rolling down a hill
  • 47 per cent of adults built dens every week as a child, yet 29 per cent of today’s children say they have never built a den at all
  • A third of children have never played hopscotch
  • One in ten children have never ridden a bike
What to do????

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Tim Gill writes an excellent article over at the Guardian about risk and blame.

"In the 1980s and 1990s we collectively fell prey to what I call the zero-risk childhood. Children were seen as irredeemably stupid, as fragile as china plates, and utterly unable to learn from their mistakes. Hence the role of adults was to protect them from all risk, no matter what the cost.

.....The time is right to move beyond unproductive debates about the "blame culture" and instead to build momentum behind the idea of expanding children's horizons. What is needed is nothing less than the wholesale rejection of the philosophy of protection. In its place, what we need to adopt is a philosophy of resilience that truly embraces risk, uncertainty and real challenge – even real danger – as essential ingredients of a rounded childhood."

Couldn't agree more.

Ken Robinson

This blog has taken a beating..... I have fearfully neglected it and it's time to give it the attention it deserves.... Starting with Sir Ken.

Interesting interview over at Fast Company about his new book and creativity.

"I remember when I was running the national commission on creativity, education and the economy in the U.K., the Secretary of State there said, "We're very committed to creativity in education but we've got to get literacy and numeracy right first." And I said, this is just a basic misunderstanding. It's like saying we're going to bake a cake and if it works out, then we'll put the eggs in. That's not how it works. If you want people to be literate, you have to get them passionate about reading and that's a creative job. To think of it as an afterthought or in conflict of the core purposes, is a misconception of what creativity is. Creative leaders get that. And if they don't they will."

Love it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Encyclopedia of Life

The Encyclopedia of Life is an amazing project, "an unprecedented global partnership between the scientific community and the general public....... to make freely available to anyone knowledge about all the world’s organisms."

The photo above is of the Penstemon newberryi Gray, commonly called Mountain Pride. Who knew? All from this website.

"Imagine an electronic page for each species of organism on Earth..." - Edward O. Wilson

What a fantastic resource. Can't quite get over it......