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Bringing creativity and humour to streets

posted this in Free Play, Practical suggestions on 23/09/2015

Powerful imagination has always been at the heart of changing streets and making them places for play and community. To gaze at a traffic-dominated, rat run of a residential street, and reimagine it as a space where skipping, vibrant chalking, the soothing sounds of chat and the chinking of tea mugs take over, requires a real imaginative effort. And often the process of changing streets’ atmosphere and space depends on the power of small actions which can gradually make streets more friendly and playful. These actions can be as simple as just sitting with a cup of tea on the front door step and striking up friendly conversation with neighbours.

But sometimes subtle changes happen through other kinds of creative action. A new street organiser in north London recently asked for tips and ideas about craft projects involving trees on streets.  Her aim was to create a visual way to represent the presence of children living there and generate a playful atmosphere.

We put the question to the rich hive-mind that is the national Playing Out Facebook group and an impressive gallery of photos and ideas was shared in a matter of hours.  Here is a selection of the ideas tried and shared which cover not only trees but windowsills, walls, drainpipes and the hidden nooks and crannies in streets. Humourous, vibrant and gently provocative they show street space as a fertile ground for the imagination.

Thank you to everyone who shared their ideas – especially to Jenny Sanderson and Angela Smith. Do share your thoughts about bringing a creative atmosphere into streets either by leaving a comment here, by emailing us or joining our Facebook group.

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