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the good life in a digital age

Archive for the ‘spaces’ Category


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another I want…. a Treepee

I reckon that’d be a good use of the huge ecalyptus that has decided over the years that our garden is way nicer than the place it was planted.

Written by Karen

June 29th, 2008 at 12:03 pm

Posted in playful spaces,toys

J. Morgan Puett’s home

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“Morgan has been making her own world as if the rest of the world didn’t exist,” he added. “She’s designing her own universe, her own lifestyle, with remarkable consistency. Somehow it all works together when people are in that environment.”

From In Her Own World in the New York Times

Ms. Puett’s vision reaches even into the refrigerator, which she has transformed into a strange, constantly shifting vignette of fresh food, old textiles and unusual scientific vials. “I buy beautiful and grotesque foods and try to put them in a new context,” she said. A broccoli floret sits on an antique candlestick, a pomegranate and brown eggs in a glass vase, carrots in ceramic pots. All liquids are decanted into glass measuring vessels.

Don’t be surprised if you come round and find my fridge looks like this

Written by Karen

June 19th, 2008 at 8:55 am

Posted in playful spaces

secret garden nursery

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I read about the Secret Garden Outdoor Nursery in an article in the Sunday Herald. There’s coverage in the Guardian too.

When the Secret Garden nursery opens next autumn, the children will have none of the games and equipment seen in a normal suburban nursery: plastic see-saws, cushioned vinyl floors and sterilised building blocks. Their curriculum will be devoted to nature walks, rearing chickens, climbing trees, “mud play” and vegetable gardening. Their playground will be the forest, and their shelter a wattle and daub “cob” building with outdoor toilets.

Pileswasp would obviously love it, as will nephew Woody if nomen et omen is true (not the Woody in the article, that’s just coincidence).

Written by Karen

June 14th, 2008 at 10:17 am

we don’t play in the streets anymore

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The media frenzy about teenage knife crime reminded me that there was a story in the newspapers a while back about playing in the streets. The story was that only 2 in 10 children play in the streets and parks close to their homes each day, compared to 7 in 10 when their parents were growing up. Traffic was considered to be the main factor that keeps children indoors. The stories were based on a survey commissioned by Play England, a project aiming to help all children in England “to have regular access and opportunity for free, inclusive, local play provision and play space”.

The newspaper stories highlighted teenage gangs (the latest tabloid demons) as another factor in keeping the majority of children off the streets. The actual research states that

“the young people in the study perceived traffic as the greatest danger, far outweighing fears of bullies and gangs, strangers and fear of attack”.

The Play England article goes on to say that one of the problems is “the demonisation of children and young people” which makes the newspaper coverage somewhat ironic.

Written by Karen

June 5th, 2008 at 10:23 am

romanticism, environmentalism or just plain perverse?

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Also on the Thinking Allowed ‘Hoodies’ episode that I mentioned a while back was a piece on city planning.The piece covers ‘the traditional and futuristic notions of what makes a good city’ and decisions that we now perceive to have been destructive but at the time were motivated by a desire to get rid of Victoriana, to build better roads etc.

It seems that one generation’s modernisation is often the next’s wanton destruction. The romanticism that my generation has for things from my grandparents time horrifies my parents. They see it as a retrograde attitude. They have none of the nostalgia for period properties & antique fittings, they merely associate them with the hardships and limitations of their childhoods (cold & drafty houses, filled with dark wood and laboursome devices). Their values are of the 60s, warm, clean, light modern houses, scandanavian furniture and labour-saving, electronic devices.

My mother-in-law was amused to see we have a manual coffee-grinder and politely inquired if we knew there were electric versions available. We got it partly because we’ve been looking at our electricity consumption and also trying to buy devices that last longer. I’ve been increasing shocked at how many electronic devices I end up chucking. But there’s also a kind of motivation that I call the From Scratch Diet i.e. you can eat as much as you like of anything that you make from scratch. Sod Atkins…bread can’t make you fat if you had to knead the bloody dough yourself. Not that coffee makes you fat but you get the idea.

Mum just thinks we’re on some weird puritanical kick.

Written by Karen

May 31st, 2008 at 9:30 am

Media and Everyday Life – David Gauntlett

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DG’s video of Media & Everyday Life represents big media with pictures of the ecclesiastical Broadcasting House. Not sure what David would think of our BBC building, the Broadcast Centre. It looks more like a warehouse than a church. And White City building looks a bit like it should be in Gotham City.

Lego features, of course, in the form of Lego gardens (combining two of my favourite things!) to show the difference between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0.

And towards the end David talks about Richard Sennett’s The Craftsman and his theory that craftsmanship gives a sense of well-being. The Craftsman has been on my wishlist for a while and I’m having to fight the urge to go on a book buying splurge.

Written by Karen

March 29th, 2008 at 2:10 pm

I want one!

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Written by Karen

March 5th, 2008 at 8:43 am

Posted in books,playful spaces

londoners angry about grants to make them happier

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I read yesterday in London Lite that £14 million from the National Lottery has been awarded to two projects with the aim of making London a happier place.

Today in London Lite the letters page is full of outrage:

“why don’t they just make a big bonfire out of the notes? Same effect”

“what a stupid idea. Why do they think that wasting more and more money on things like this is a good idea. Londoners are miserable – no amount of cash will make them smile!”

“what a way to waste money. Throwing cash at this initiative is about as worthwhile as flushing it down the toilet. People aren’t suddenly going to be happy because someone shows them how to plant vegetables, it’s much deeper than that.”

I’m guessing that the last correspondent never saw Making Slough Happy or read any of psychologist Dr Richard Stevens’ research. One of the ten steps to happiness listed in the programme was “plant something and nurture it”.

The two schemes are Well London and Active 8 London, run by the Peabody Trust, a charitable housing association.

Well London projects include:

  • schemes to make it easier to buy quality, cheap, local food
  • cook and eat clubs to increase rates of healthy eating
  • training local people with direct experience of mental ill health to deliver mental health awareness training
  • using the arts and cultural activity to improve environments and provide accessible physical activities
  • increasing physical activity levels through increasing the range of sports and active recreation activities available to the community

Active 8 London plans to set up:

  • food days to broaden people’s understanding of nutrition
  • gardening schemes to show high-rise residents how to grow their own vegetables
  • a week of events and workshops that will address common mental health problems
  • the Fifty-Five Alive Club that will lead social activities for older people
  • a project that will provide exercise sessions and advice in women only environments
  • Pukka Tukka, which is a project to encourage single men off takeaways and processed foods and show them how to make healthy, fresh meals on a budget

So you can see why the correspondents are so disgruntled. Projects to encourage us to eat better and exercise more, what a terrible waste of money. After all £14 million does seem like a lot of money.

Amongst the information to support Well London’s bid is the fact that “ten per cent of people over the age of 65 are malnourished and account for approximately half of the £7.3 billion per year that malnutrition costs the UK.” Which isn’t the sort of information that London Lite has room for.

£7.3 billion? Now, that is a lot of money.

Written by Karen

July 19th, 2007 at 1:36 pm

Posted in cities,food,psychology

BBC activates one of its homing chips

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Matt Jones returns to the BBC in a few weeks. I think this confirms my theory that they put chips in our brains that make you feel ill if you are away too long.

Jones recently presented at Interesting 2007, Russell Davies’ conference where “all sorts of speakers speak about all sorts of stuff. Not brands, advertising, blogging and twitter but interesting, unexpected, original things.” I’ve just been flicking through his slides on slideshare and it shouldn’t have surprised me that he crammed themes of play in there alongside cityscapes, comics, the Sultan’s elephant, Parkour, Francis Fukyama, and psychogeography:

“truly playful spaces are those that enable the unplanned and un-authored to occur within their environments. Truly playful spaces are being crowded out by authored experiences, but this is only having the effect of making them even more attractive environments. A great recent example was the “play” inspired by The Weather Project installation in Tate Modern, where many people chose to lie down and bathe in the artifical sunlight, making patterns together that they could see in the huge mirrored ceiling”.

Looking forward to having him back and causing chaos.

Written by Karen

June 29th, 2007 at 11:47 am

Posted in bbc,playful spaces,work