Weekend Reading 25.11.17

This weekend’s tasty tidbits: nature play (sigh, that this has to be A Thing) and revitalising depressed cities

“I just like being out here. You know an animal will enjoy what we’re doing, you’re helping clean up what’s happened.”

A Christchurch ex-teacher turned landscaper has set up Woodland Escape to create awesome natural “free play” environments.

Why free play with nature?

Typical modern playground (Papakura). Photo – David Gadd – Stuff.co.nz

The modern playground can be a pretty sterile, safety-first space, and there are lots of moves to add technology (smartphones of course) to try to get kids interacting socially, moving about more, thinking laterally, using their imaginations and problem-solving. (Remember Wellington’s  “Magical Park”? or (maybe) Selwyn’s  “smart playground” .)

But is there a simpler, cheaper, better option under our noses?

For old, young and inbetween, there’s no substitute for getting amongst some nature. And for kids, “nature play”   gives all the benefits of a high-tech “interactive park” experience (and more), on the cheap, plus the psychological goodness.

And for Christchurch there’s an added motivation: “It’s important children are connected to nature so they felt empowered to create change in the face of environmental crises.” Read  The Press’s article.


Make your city a startup hub: boost liveability by loving your old buildings and urban biking  

Alleyway dining in Pittsburgh (Enrico’s). Photo: Rosemary Griffith (musingsfromaredhead.com).

Everyone wants to see their town full of entrepreneurial folks starting and running innovative small tech startups – they’re affluent, highly skilled and generally believed to be good for cities’ economies.  Pittsburgh is one of the US’s once-great industrial cities, now trying out new ways to find its new mojo.  Paul Graham (a fairly big noise in the tech community) has some thoughts on what cities should do to attract entrepreneurial folks who are likely to help drive the economy.   

He also quotes Gertrude Stein, saying that small independent businesses – especially outward-focussed ones like hospitality – make your town’s streets feel like it’s actually a place. Instead of “I’m here but it could be anywhere”, small independent businesses in Pittsburgh are “making there be a there here”.    




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