Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas

And a Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I LIKE A WOOD - for Save Grenoside Woods campaign

I’ve got to confess I like a glade;
A tent made of leaves, a tree-shelter,
Somewhere to sit in the afternoon shade
And say, quietly

 I do like a glade.
I’ve got to confess I like a copse;
A branch of a twig office, a root-shed
Somewhere to sit where time just stops
And say, slowly,

  I do like a copse.

I’ve got to confess I like a wood;
A trunk-palace, a bird-street
Somewhere to sit that’s fulfilling, complete,
And say, happily,
I do like a wood.

© Ian McMillan, 17.10.11 

Saturday, December 15, 2012


The spelling of it gives it away, that it's based in America, but every country should have a Neighborland website.

"Neighborland is a new way to make your city a better place.
We are providing residents, neighborhood organizations, economic development groups, and municipalities with a powerfully simple platform to connect and make good things happen. A healthy neighborhood is a connected neighborhood. No idea is too big or too small to share on Neighborland. If it matters to you, then it matters."

I love one of the posts that says they want more urban trees in Kansas City. The peasants are revolting and it's truly inspiring.....

Life box

What a sweet idea, the cardboard box goes full circle.... from tree to box back to tree again courtesy of the people at Lifebox.

Monday, December 10, 2012

George Monbiot: The Unsung World

"Accept the principle of biodiversity offsetting and you accept the idea that place means nothing. That nowhere is to be valued in its own right any more, that everything is exchangeable for everything else, and nothing can be allowed to stand in the way of the graders and degraders. That is not an idea I find easy to swallow."

Article here.

Richard Louv

I read Richard Louv's column regularly and while it always contains some gem or quote worth mentioning, I don't post it every time, as it feels a little redundant. Mainly because I'm sure there are many more people reading it anyway than checking out my blog. 

However, every now and then it doesn't hurt to pass on some of his wisdom.......

So, from his column called A new generation of environmentalists: Fighting golbal warming by reconnecting people to nature I quote:

"An inability to recognize the natural world around us is just one reason why our major environmental challenges and our daily experiences in nature are inalterably related, and why an increasing number of scientists and organizations are taking action. As of 2008, more people in the world live in cities than in the countryside — inviting either more human alienation from nature, or an opportunity to create new kinds of nature-rich cities, ones that become incubators of biodiversity and human health. That’s a huge, hopeful challenge for future urban planners, architects and policy makers — and other careers, for which we do not yet have names, that connect people to the natural world."

He also mentions this article in his post, by George Monbiot over at The Guardian. Definitely worth reading.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


How fab is this? Chopstick by Visiondivision has its home at 100 acres Park in Indiana.

"The design is based on the universal notion that you need to sacrifice something in order to make something new. Every product is a compound of different pieces of nature, whether it is a cell phone, a car, a stone floor or a wood board; they have all been harvested in one way or another. Our project is about trying to harvest something as gently as possible so that the source of what we harvest is displayed in a pure, pedagogic and respectful way—respectful to both the source itself and to everyone visiting the building."

I love the thoughtful process of the designers. Check out their website to read more.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Open education

"On a personal level I also found out that this stuff has applications in other areas too - education being a case in point, where I realised the real thing of value was not the knowledge but the learning experience." 

Jonathon Worth, a photographer who runs an open education photography course at Coventry University. Read the article at the BBC.

Learn for Life

Christmas is looming......

Forget buying all those other presents for friends and family, treat yourself to this book.

It looks wonderful and seems to be full to brimming of creative projects, such as this fantastic space under a freeway interchange....

Learning for Life. On my wishlist...

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Fast Track

Who wouldn't want a 51 m long trampoline running through the local forest. Imagine how many kids could fit on this installation....

By Salto Architects for a festival in Nikola-Lenivets, Russia.


Saturday, December 1, 2012


This is wonderful, a school with learning based on play, making, discovery and an interest-driven curriculum, in Santa Monica, California.

For one who wholeheartedly believes children learn better when actively engaged in play, this would be my ideal school, none of that parrot fashion learning here......

Playmaker only opened its doors in September, accepting 36 sixth graders, so I wait to see how it all works out, although I have very high hopes for it.

Fall in Central Park

I love time lapse photography, but usually it's to see something grow. Here we have autumn in Central Park, everything changing before our very eyes, thanks to Jamie Scott. Lovely.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Purple Logs?

What playground doesn't deserve a log walk painted purple.

Fab, fab, fabulous......

I was so focused on the PURPLE I forgot to credit the artist.

This piece of fabulousness is by Michael McGillis and is called Wake. You can visit it at the Franconia Sculpture Park,
Shafer, Minnesota.

Found via Colossal.

Dumb ways to die

So cute!

Check out the website that goes with the campaign. Here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Beyond the Ball

Following on from the last post, here's another program in Chicago that was mentioned in the article about Playstreets, called Beyond the Ball.

Hats off to all the people that work there...... the short movie above says it all.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Playstreets in Chicago

They should be very proud of themselves in Chicago. They have implemented a new program designed to expand places where children can play safely.

"PlayStreets" periodically closes off streets in different areas of the city to provide safe, supervised space with organized sports, fitness and dancing programs. The aim is to reduce childhood obesity.

 Great, love it.

Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time

I love getting my Brainpickings weekly email and this week was no different, mainly due to the post about the book Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time  by Jeff Speck.

I won't requote from the post, as it's well worth just checking it out for yourself.... However, I will mention a small quote from the 2012 Wired conference, where Alissa Walker put up a slide that made me laugh out loud:

"Let's have a moment of silence for all those who are stuck in traffic on the way to the gym to ride stationary bikes."

As they say in America, "Now that's funny...."

I will be adding this book to my wishlist, Christmas is coming up......

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Meatless Mondays

My old hunting ground Los Angeles, has just become the biggest city to endorse the movement to reduce meat consumption for health and environmental reasons.....

Meatless Mondays goal is to "help you reduce your meat consumption by 15% in order to improve your personal health and the health of the planet."

I love this and we've been trying to do this ourselves. Mexican Mondays with refried beans, which luckily is my kids favourite meal.

UT study: Natural playgrounds more beneficial to children, inspire more play

Dawn Coe, assistant professor at the University of Tennessee has completed a recent study that shows that "children who play on playgrounds that incorporate natural elements like logs and flowers tend to be more active than those who play on traditional playgrounds with metal and brightly colored equipment."

I've been saying this for ages.... but it's nice to see a study focusing on this very subject. Proof at last!

"Natural playscapes appear to be a viable alternative to traditional playgrounds for school and community settings," Coe said. "Future studies should look at these changes long-term as well as the nature of the children's play."

Woo hoo.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Magazines for kids

Flashing back to my youth......... I used to read Smash Hits, my brother got 2000 AD and my sister liked The Beano..... but what do kids read today?

Well, here's two lovely magazines to check out. OKIDO and ANORAK. Not only do they look lovely but their content looks fun and informative.

No free poster in the middle to tear out, of Spandau Ballet or Duran Duran but maybe kids nowadays aren't so interested in middle-aged men singing 80's hits.... sorry guys.

Monday, November 12, 2012

One World Futbol

The One world Futbol, the worlds first virtually indestructible football.

"One World Futbol inventor Tim Jahnigen was inspired to start the project after watching news footage of kids in Darfur playing a soccer game using a ball of trash tied up with twine. At that moment, Tim set out to design a ball that played like a “real futbol,” but would never wear out, never go flat, never need a pump."

Their goal is "to bring the joy of soccer and play to youth in disadvantaged communities so that children can be children no matter where they live."

So simple and yet so meaningful.

Also you can buy one and give one....... (Your purchase helps support development programs that use sport and play to teach conflict resolution, build teamwork and rebuild community.)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Big Questions from Little People: and Simple Answers from Great Minds

Brainpickings have a great post about this book: "Big Questions from Little People: and Simple Answers from Great Minds" compiled by Gemma Elwin Harris, where they have mentioned a few of the great answers given to simple everyday questions from children by scientists and philosophers.

My favourite by far is this one,  by Jeannette Winterson......

          How do we fall in love?
You don’t fall in love like you fall in a hole. You fall like falling through space. It’s like you jump off your own private planet to visit someone else’s planet. And when you get there it all looks different: the flowers, the animals, the colours people wear. It is a big surprise falling in love because you thought you had everything just right on your own planet, and that was true, in a way, but then somebody signalled to you across space and the only way you could visit was to take a giant jump. Away you go, falling into someone else’s orbit and after a while you might decide to pull your two planets together and call it home. And you can bring your dog. Or your cat. Your goldfish, hamster, collection of stones, all your odd socks. (The ones you lost, including the holes, are on the new planet you found.)

And you can bring your friends to visit. And read your favourite stories to each other. And the falling was really the big jump that you had to make to be with someone you don’t want to be without. That’s it.

PS You have to be brave.

Does master degree imply true mastery?

I'm fascinated by the topic of the future of education and over at Freedom Lab, this post by J├Ârgen van der Sloot caught my eye.

"I've been diving into the topic of creativity for a bit these last couple of weeks. Triggered by talks to Edward De Bono, our Fellow collaborators in New York, Roger Martin's book 'The Opposable Mind' and our own thoughts on a critical mode of thinking, it seems to me that a 'Masters Degree' is just not cut out anymore to face the 21st century. We are always keen on the use of language and a big inhibitor for new ways of more creative, integral or lateral thinking lies in the wording of the degree we want the students of this world to obtain.

A Masters Degree teaches you exactly that: to become a Master in a certain topic. Don't get me wrong, there's a great need for experienced masters in our society, but it also means that you get taught what others long before have learned. And the educational system is obsessed with teaching students to become the masters of their trades. Then after school, we organize our businesses and lives according to the principles of the mastery. Now, that hardly seems to leave room for any alternative perspective on some of the dilemmas of our society. It was Einstein who said that "we can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

So we need new kinds of thinking. Without going into any possibilities for that new kind of thinking, it seems to me that to allow ourselves to open our minds, we should start with changing the one thing that locks us into the current paradigm from the onset: your Masters Degree. After all: you become what you say you are. Let's suppose that in addition to mastery we need 'creativity' (as broadly defined as possible) then what does mastery+creativity change our university degree into?"

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Incomplete Dictionary of Show Birds

 My Dad would have loved these photos by Luke Stephenson, he was always partial to birds and these are stunning.

 An Incomplete History of Show Birds.

Available in mid December but you can always pre-order it here.....

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Stop Stealing Dreams

This is seriously excellent. Worth watching.

I'm a big fan of Seth Godin's blog as well and if you want you can download the ebook of the talk here.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Thomas “Dambo” Winther

A lovely project closer to home...... street artist Thomas “Dambo” Winther's "Happy City Birds" project is about recycling trash by making them into birdhouses.

I'd love to sign my kids up for one of his workshops..... Check out Treehuggers article here.

Take Me Outside

Hats off to Colin Harris at Take Me Outside, who just finished nine months of running 4722 miles across Canada to promote the idea of getting outside.

Mission statement:

"We believe in the power of outdoor experiential learning. We believe in the countless benefits that having a relationship with nature brings. We believe in getting youth outside and active and hope to promote this message through various means of advocacy, including an apparel initiative to get students outside of the classroom.  Take Me Outside is a non profit organization whose next project is to run across Canada, encouraging youth to get outside, be active and reconnect with nature.

Join us in our mission - To get people, both young and old, outside! We are but a few, and the task is large. And so important."

This should go international.... such a great idea.

Catherine Nelson

These are beautiful. 

Catherine Nelson, from Sydney, uses hundreds of nature shots and literally "paints" these amazing ecosystems.

There are many more to see on her website. Check them out.

Beau Lotto + Amy O’Toole: Science is for everyone, kids included

LOVE IT!!!!!!

(I know it's rude to shout but you have to watch this..... it is so good.)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Open for Play seminar

The Open for Play seminar was part of Open House London 2012 and included an exciting evening of talks about child-friendly urban public spaces and neighbourhoods.

Must have been hiding in my cave when this happened. Luckily for me Tim Gill (co-organiser along with Paige Johnson from Playscapes and Alex Gilliam from Public Workshop) has posted the full programme of videos.

Worth watching, seriously.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

David Attenborough

"The truth is: the natural world is changing. And we are totally dependent on that world. It provides our food, water and air. It is the most precious thing we have and we need to defend it."

David Attenborough in a great interview over at the Guardian.

Plus, he has a new program called Attenborough: 60 Years in the Wild, coming to BBC2 on the 16 Nov..... Can't wait.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Getting kids into nature starts at home

I love the National Trust in the UK, partly because they always have lovely cafes and the most delicious cakes at all of their places, (at least the ones I've had to good fortune to visit...) but also because they are committed to protecting historic places and green spaces.

Recently they sought submissions from experts and the public for their Natural Childhood Inquiry and the results can be found here.

"Inquiry respondents said parents need more accessible child and family-friendly green and natural spaces and that opportunities for children to access and enjoy nature need to be promoted in a more joined-up fashion, and in ways that appeal more to families and children.

Much more could be made of the smaller everyday opportunities for children to play outdoors close to home to connect with nature on their doorstep and parents should look to draw more on networks of family and friends, especially grandparents, to help share the load of their children getting outdoors more.

Time learning and playing outdoors also needs to become a bigger element of the typical school day."

21 Super Kids that Will Save the World from Adults

Treehugger have put together a list of 21 fantastic kids and their achievements...... that I am personally in awe of.

From a 16-year-old scientist, who identified two strains of bacteria that work together to decompose plastic bags to a 10 year old's petition that led to Jamba Juice ditching their styrofoam cups.....

The beautiful painting to the left is by 11 year old Olivia Bouler, who partnered with the Audubon Society to sell of her original sketches to raise money for the birds most affected by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

Love, love, love it.

Fifth Street Farm

Every school should have one, a beautifully designed roof top farm.

From their website:
"Fifth Street Farm is a collaborative educational project serving three New York City public schools on the rooftop of the Robert Simon Complex in the East Village. Fifth Street Farm was created as a tool for providing inner-city children a greater awareness and understanding of the natural world, especially the role plants play in the food web. 

The rooftop garden allows students from pre-K through 8th grade to experience the benefits and pleasures of growing and eating fresh, whole, sustainable foods."

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Playborhood: The Book

I'm a little behind on this bit of news...... Mike Lanza, who started Playborhood, the blog and movement, has written a book.

To quote the book's description from Amazon:

"In Playborhood: Turn Your Neighborhood Into a Place for Play, you’ll find inspiring stories of innovative communities throughout the US and Canada that have successfully created vibrant neighborhood play lives for their children. You’ll also get a comprehensive set of step-by-step solutions to change your family and neighborhood cultures, so that your kids can spend less time in front of screens and in adult-supervised activities, and more time engaging in joyful neighborhood play."

Sounds wonderful. I'll have to get me a copy.

Why Creativity is the new Economy

Very interesting talk from the RSA by Richard Florida.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Cow & Gate

Cow & Gate 'Supergroup' from BETCLondon on Vimeo.

Who cares what they're selling.......... I'd buy it and my kids are too old for their products. 

Animal buildings

This is so cool. Imagine being 3 years old and going to kindergarten here.

I love the tail in the back, that doubles as a slide out to the playground.

Via apartment therapy.

Also check out some other animal buildings here, the fish one is really cool.

The Cost of a Child in the 21st Century

A report published by The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in the UK aims to show for the first time how much it costs to provide children with a minimum level of participation in society, as well as catering for their needs in terms of food, clothes and shelter.

Key findings are:
  • It costs £143,000 in total to bring up a child to age 18 and meet their minimum needs, which is around £150 a week. 
  • The basic cost of raising children has risen faster than inflation. 
  • State support fails to ensure basic physical needs are met. 
  • A full-time job on National Minimum Wage is not enough to meet minimum costs for children.
Wonder how other countries would fare...

Via Play England.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Child-centred Neighbourhoods

I recently entered the UK's Landscape Institute competition called "A High Line for London". While I wasn't shortlisted, my topic dealt with children, nature and play and therefore thought it would be worth posting here.

Here's the proposal description:

“…........children are disappearing from the outdoors at a rate that would make the top of any conservationist’s list of endangered species if they were any other member of the animal kingdom…....” Tim Gill (2005)  

By focusing on the most vulnerable citizens on our streets today, this proposal explores tackling the public realm on a local scale, using connectivity and the renaturing of the urban environment to be more conducive with the way children navigate the neighbourhood.

Child-centred neighbourhoods, as child-centred education suggests, put the needs of the children first, requiring them to be active, responsible participants in their own development. By encouraging children to choose and make local connections within the neighbourhood it also allows them more freedom to experience, explore and be creative.

The proposal suggests making the school, the park and the home the nuclei of the local community and identifying opportunities to link these to other community spaces. Using nature as the agency of change, one can retrofit the utilitarian aspects of the public realm to promote connectivity.

This would require a city wide investment in human/nature social capital through the renaturing of the urban environment, such as through the use of childlife corridors and the renaturing of derelict and underused spaces. As this will improve the freedom, connectivity and activity of the children, it follows that the health and wellbeing of the community will also improve."

Also check out the link above for the 20 shortlisted entries. Some interesting ideas.

Childrens Eyes on Earth

Wonderful photographs by children under the age of 17 to raise awareness of environmental issues as part of "The Children's Eyes On Earth International Youth Photography Contest ". This was initiated by IDEA (International Dialogue for Environmental Action),  in collaboration with photographer Reza."

First prize went to Anastasya Vorobko, who is 8 and from Russia. Her image below is called "SOS".

The bottom image is my favourite, called "Fields of Green" by Bianca Stan, 14 from Romania, but they are all truly inspiring and worth checking out.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The School of Life and Will Alsop

Or, The Glorious Potential of Boredom..... a talk by architect Will Alsop.

I have a feeling it was/is today, however, there is a short interview over at the School of Life where he mentions:

SOL: You’ve argued that “if a society is creating spaces where people are happy to sit and do nothing, it’s doing something right”.  

WA:  Strange that it’s difficult to sit in a public space and do nothing, as they have moved all the benches, at the expense of street cafes where you have to pay to sit and do nothing.

Now that's a talk I would have liked to go to....

(Image of interior of Alsop's Blizard Building)

Bryan Nash Gill

These are simply stunning. Would that I could afford them, I would sit all day looking at the beauty of these woodcuts.

They are artist Bryan Nash Gill's imprints of cross sections of trees and have recently been made into a book.

And while I'm on the subject of trees, check out Herman Hesse's thoughts on trees, at Brainpickings, where they have included a lovely passage from his book, Trees: Reflections and Poems.

"......When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured......."

The Meaning of Life: Reflections in Words and Pictures on Why We Are Here

Here is Arthur C. Clarke's quote from the book " The Meaning of Life: Reflections in Words and Pictures on Why We Are Here", published by LIFE magazine in 1991.
"A wise man once said that all human activity is a form of play. And the highest form of play is the search for Truth, Beauty and Love. What more is needed? Should there be a ‘meaning’ as well, that will be a bonus?
If we waste time looking for life’s meaning, we may have no time to live — or to play."

Via Brainpickings.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

21 Swings: An exercise of musical co-operation

This is such a wonderful project and such a shame it's only a temporary installation.

Aside from the idea of co-operation that the piece explores, i.e. the music changes when the participants wok together, I just love the playfulness of it. Every person in the above video has a smile on their face. Oh, and the swings lighting up at night, genius.

Love, love, love it.

World Congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature

I was thrilled to get an email from The Children and Nature Network (Richard Louv and Dr. Cheryl Charles's organisation), about the World Congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature just held in Jeju, South Korea at the beginning of September.

Actions taken there will lend dramatic support for the worldwide movement to re-connect children and nature—for their health and well-being and that of the Earth itself.

"More than 10,000 people representing 150 nations and more than 1000 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) participated in the Congress which convenes every four years. The Children & Nature Network (C&NN) is one of the participating NGOs.

Of the many declarations approved and actions taken, there are three of particular relevance to the children and nature movement:
  • IUCN adopted the resolution, “Child’s Right to Connect with Nature and to a Healthy Environment.” The resolution calls on IUCN’s government members and NGOs to promote and actively contribute to the international acknowledgement and codification of this right within the framework of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • Leaders of national parks and protected areas throughout the world resolved to work collectively to strengthen people’s engagement with nature by approving the “Jeju Declaration on National Parks and Protected Areas:  Connecting People to Nature.” This declaration commits to creating a global campaign that recognizes the great contribution of these natural treasures to the health and resilience of people, communities and economies.
  • The Children & Nature Network, one of the signatories to the Jeju Declaration, along with the IUCN Commission on Education and Communication (CEC), jointly released the landmark “Children and Nature Worldwide Summary of Research.” This annotated bibliography of peer-reviewed research and studies from scholars throughout the world provides an evidence-based resource to dramatize the critical reasons for connecting children and youth with nature. "
A copy of the report is here.  To steal from one of the greats......... 'S wonderful, 'S marvelous.......

Friday, September 21, 2012

When facts change fast, what should our kids be learning?

Really interesting article over at Forbes.

"What is the role of teachers when they are no longer the sources of basic knowledge about the world? ............................................ More than ever, teachers are facilitators of learning, who must provide opportunities for students to develop and apply critical thinking, problem-solving and analytic skills in the context of a rapidly changing world."

David Chambon

Wow, wow and wow.....

David Chambon's macro photographs are stunning.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Education Outrage

The name of this blog alone got my attention. Then I read the last couple of posts and I was

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Project Wild Thing

Fantastic idea, fantastic website and loads of fantastic links.
"The Wild Thing Manifesto:

For 2 million years the idea of being separate from nature did not even occur to humans. We were nature, and nature was us. But recently we’ve turned our backs on nature. Thanks to technology and the comforts it has provided we are now the safest, fattest and most indoor human beings ever. And it is getting worse every day."

Pledge today, I did and seriously plan to get outside more. Hopefully my kids will follow.....

Monday, September 3, 2012

Carlos Amorales

Black Cloud is a stunning installation by a Mexican artist, Carlos Amorales.

It's such a powerful image when there are so many of them... and that they are indoors when they really live outside.

Maybe something like this could work outdoors?

Imagine thousands of small or life-size paper or cardboard cutout children pinned to all areas of the urban environment, highlighting how they are quickly disappearing from the outdoors......

100 Wild Huts

Kevin Langan has set himself a challenge to build 100 small survival shelters and sleep rough for one night in each one.

Love it.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Childrens Lives Today

 Some original content today........

I saw this post by Tim Gill and thought it would work well visually. I fancied seeing if it was a more compelling argument as an infographic.  I'm not so sure but it was fun to do.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Venice Architecture Biennial

This year at the Venice Biennial in the U.S. Pavilion is a fascinating, timely exhibition called  Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good.

While I could try and describe it I would rather you read what the curators had to say:

"In recent years, there has been a nascent movement of designers acting on their own initiative to

solve problematic urban situations, creating new opportunities and amenities for the public. Provisional, improvisational, guerrilla, unsolicited, tactical, temporary, informal, DIY, unplanned, participatory, opensource—these are just a few of the words that have been used to describe this growing body of work.

Spontaneous Interventions will frame an archive of compelling, actionable strategies, ranging from
urban farms to guerilla bike lanes, temporary architecture to poster campaigns, urban navigation apps to crowdsourced city planning. These efforts cut across boundaries, addressing architecture, landscape, infrastructure, and the digital universe, and run the gamut from symbolic to practical, physical to virtual, whimsical to serious. But they share an optimistic willingness to venture outside conventional practice and to deploy fresh tactics to make cities more sustainable, accessible, and inclusive." Some of the projects I have blogged about before, such as the Seed bombs and Edible school yards, but I love the diversity and energy that is shown in their selection, from Occupy Wall Street to Post furniture.

I only hope every architect, designer, landscape architect and planner that visits the exhibion takes a little piece of it home......... mentally, of course.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Green Pedestrian Crossing

This project highlights the environmental benefits of walking versus driving. For someone who has just made a pact with myself that I will cycle or walk instead of drive, this is particularly appropriate. I just wish I had such a beautiful image to show for my efforts.

Jody Xiong of DDB China in conjunction with the China Environmental Protection Foundation created this project. As pedestrians walked over the crossing their shoes went through a container with green paint in and they left a trail of footprints, that end up being the leaves on the tree. Check out the video of the process here.

On their website:

"The Green Pedestrian Crossing was carried out in 7 main streets of Shanghai and later expanded to 132 roads in 15 cities across China. A total number of pedestrians that participated exceeded 3,920,000 people. Key media both online and offline rapidly wrote about the campaign. According to research, the overall awareness of environmental protection had increased 86%. After the campaign, the print was exhibited at the Shanghai Zheng Da Art Museum. "

(via Colossal)

Stephen Wiltshire


Stephen Wiltshire.

(via The Kid should see this)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Active Living Research

"Using evidence to prevent childhood obesity and create active communities."

And that's just their tag line....... This wonderful non profit organisation supports and shares research on environmental and policy strategies that can promote daily physical activity for children and families across the United States.

"Active Living Research provides credible and action-oriented research results that address the root causes of childhood obesity and physical inactivity."

And I'm a sucker for a good infographic..... Love it.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Better Block: Rapid Urban Revitalization Projects

The “Better Block” project is an online tool to help aid people to create walkable, vibrant neighborhoods. So far they gained quite a bit of momentum and their map is starting to fill up.

If you're in Detroit on September 22nd and 23rd, check out what's going on.....

Love it.


According to Sir Ken Robinson's TED talk is the most popular ever. With over 13 million views.....

I'm not surprised and am happy to be reminded that I should really watch it again. If you are not one of the millions enlightened, now's your chance.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

US teen invents advanced cancer test using Google

Over at the Beeb is an amazing story about Jack Andraka, a 15 year old who has created a pancreatic cancer test that is 168 times faster and considerably cheaper than the gold standard in the field. Check out the video on the BBC.

Using the internet to develop his idea further he quoted Sir Isaac Newton.

"If I have seen further it is by standing on ye sholders of Giants."

Classroom Portraits

Julian Germain has been photographing classrooms around the world since 2004, resulting in an exhibition in Rotterdam, called The Future is Ours: "Classroom Portraits 2004-2012". A fascinating insight into different cultures and their approach to learning.....

Check out more here. The ones above are only the tip of the iceberg.

Inges Idee

Found via playscapes, this project by the public art collective Inges Idee at an occupational school center  in Munich, is really interesting. A regulation sized basketball court but with undulating mounds throughout.

I'd love to see how it was used on a daily basis, whether the kids actually try and play basketball or just use it as a social space.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

MOMA: Century of the Child

MOMA have an exhibition at the moment called "Century of the Child - Growing by Design 1900 - 2000".

Fantastic website and fantastic idea for an exhibition.

If you're in New York, check it out. If you're like me and won't be going there anytime soon, the website certainly makes up for it.

It is full of useful information, from when a polio vaccination was introduced to the United Nation's Declaration of the Rights of the Child.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Children and computers

Very interesting article over at The Guardian.

"Her (Dr Livingstone's ) advice for parents is two-fold. First, get online with your children when they're little, to help them figure out how to manage their internet use. "And second," she says, "less shouting at the kid to get off the computer and more, 'Let's go to the park.' We're a busy bunch of parents and it's easy to put them in front of a game while we get on with stuff we need to do. All kids say computer use is a time filler – a way of avoiding boredom."

Boredom. My childhood was filled with it. Hours spent watching raindrops crawling down the window. Days doodling alternative worlds, or inventing radio shows on play-and-record tape machines. Today's kids have far more tedium-killers, from all-day cartoons to a never-ending parade of squeaking, beeping, speaking electronic toys. Plus, they expect us to help them with their entertainment. I don't remember getting instructions from adults about how to do stuff, other than how to ride a bike. And even that was just a sharp push in the back as you careered downhill towards a ditch. Generally, we were left alone to get on with whatever we were doing.

These days, not only are we encouraged to show our love for our kids but increasing awareness of children's rights means we also have to take more care of them. The law insists. You can't drive without them being safely strapped in. You can't leave them alone while you nip to the shops. No way would you chuck an eight-year-old out of the house at 9am on a Saturday and tell him not to come back before tea.

Perhaps it's no surprise that we occasionally shove them in front of computer games. Yes, it's to give us a break from them. But it's also to give them a break from us."

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The health risks and benefits of cycling in urban environments compared with car use: health impact assessment study

Excellent study published in the British Medical Journal stating that:

"The health benefits of physical activity from cycling using the bicycle sharing scheme (Bicing) in Barcelona, Spain, were large compared with the risks from inhalation of air pollutants and road traffic incidents.

Public bicycle sharing schemes can help improve public health."

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Biobased Kidshouse

This playhouse from Dutch consortium BE-Basic is made entirely from natural materials such as agricultural waste, tree bark, and potato peels.

It's completely recyclable and some of the materials used have actually been certified as ‘cradle to cradle’. This means that after their useful life has expired, all the components can be recycled in another product.

Check out the article at Cnet.

I like this very much.