News

April 26, 2019

Harnessing the ‘Power of Play’ to Build Equitable Cities

When planners and community stakeholders are hashing out asset inventories and needs assessments to figure out the state of neighborhood amenities, a few things are sure to almost always make the list: more access to green space, safer crosswalks, more parking in business districts, gateways, and wayfinding signage. When planners design communities to be safer, healthier, more sustainable, and more walkable, how often do those efforts make a community more playful?

The Power of Play

Play is powerful. In the sphere of early childhood education, experts recognize the unparalleled importance of play in learning and development. In business, play is seen as a gateway to greater creativity, collaboration, and breakthrough innovation. In society, communities that play together stay together.

Isn’t it time we embraced playfulness as a quality worth designing into our urban spaces? Perhaps the trouble is that the word itself seems just too playful to be taken seriously. We need more words for play.

More Words for Play

The Finnish language has no shortage of words for play. For Finns, playing a game is different from playing a sport, which is different from playing music. There are distinct Finnish words for children’s play and the play that adults engage in. There’s even a Finnish word that means both “work” and “play.” This rich vocabulary shows that in Finland, play is a valued part of life that isn’t confined just to kids’ stuff.

 

Where else would we see play show up in our plans, if only we had the words for it?

 

What would we call the kind of play that brings strangers together?

 

What would we call playing around with ideas and possibilities?

 

It’s questions like these that motivated a coalition of public and private sector partners to start the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative and organize a citywide movement to expand the presence of play in every community. As a mid-size, post-industrial city in the midst of dramatic changes spurred in large part by new development, we see a mandate to build greater public demand for play as an integral part of the city’s future.

Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative

Locally in southwestern Pennsylvania, the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative is working to make play a part of the urban infrastructure.

Since 2013, members of the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative have been working together to find and remove the barriers holding communities back from experiencing the social benefits of play. These efforts have brought together leaders and representatives from the city’s parks and museums, human services and municipal agencies, arts and sustainability nonprofits, and community development groups. Along the way, we’ve encountered distinct manifestations of play that we really wish had their own name.

Learn more about the work of The Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative and read the full article from the urban planning magazine Planetizen.

(shared via Planetizen)

News

October 30, 2018

UnConference: Play for Change

In partnership with the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative and Philadelphia Playful Learning Landscapes, join us on Tuesday, October 30, at the Carnegie Museum of Art in the Oakland community of Pittsburgh for UnConference: Play for Change, a day-long event to think critically about play. There will be keynote speakers, lightning talks, hands-on activities and action plan time.

We will convene 25 teams of 5-7 individuals from neighborhoods, boroughs, and cities from across southwest Pennsylvania and West Virginia to:

  1. Explore WHAT is play, and WHY play?
  2. Understand the play continuum and the role of “playful learning,” such as the Six C’s (critical thinking, communication, collaboration, culture/community, creativity, and connectivity) and their importance in positioning our children for the future.
  3. Consider a “play community.” Why they are important? And, how to define a vision, mission, purpose, and goals in the creation of your own playful community. We’ll talk about lessons learned from the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative and the Philadelphia Playful Learning Landscapes.
  4. Learn more about transforming public spaces into community play and playful learning spaces such as hands on installations of playful learning modules.
  5. Develop action plans for infusing play in your community. What challenges at the school, neighborhood or city-level do you think ‘play’ may help address in your own community? How do we design communities with intention to address these challenges? We’ll talk about the Hazelwood Play Trail case study.

All while considering issues of equity, transportation, safety, play across the ages, community input and more.

Registration is now closed. E-mail Conference Director Yu-Ling Cheng at conference@tryingtogether.org.

News

September 21, 2018

Play for Change Invites Team Registration

For many, play is something children do. It can however be a powerful connector for children, adults, and communities to interact with one another, make decisions, and solve problems. In partnership with the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative and Philadelphia Playful Learning Landscapes, teams are invited to register for UnConference: Play for Change on Tuesday, October 30 at the Carnegie Museum of Art from 8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

25 teams of five to seven individuals from across Southwestern Pennaylvania and West Virginia will convene for this day-long event to think more critically about play. The event will include keynote speakers, lightning talks, hands-on activities, and time for action planning.

Registration is now closed. For questions, contact Yu-Ling at conference@tryingtogether.org.