Sunday, 27 April 2014

Pop-Ups Tour 2014: Thank You (Part 2)

By Morgan

Playworkers make a point of going where invited.  With children this usually means waiting to be asked to join in play, rather than blundering over with our own ideas.  This tour is one extension of that idea.

We'd had emails of interest from people all over the country and suspected that linking them together as a tour would benefit everyone - lower travel costs mean more partners can be involved, offering more play for all!  And almost as soon as we made this idea public, it began to snowball (appropriate enough for the winter we'd been having).  Suzanna's original goal of 7 stops (one for each weekend) was quickly surpassed and by the end we had 16 locations. Sixteen.  

That's why this Thank You goes out, most heartily, to the hosts who made it possible by inviting us into their settings, their communities and often even their homes.  They organized lecture halls and dining rooms, projectors and dinners.  Some cooked, or gave us backs of snacks for the road.  Others hugged us tight when we said goodbye, and more than we'd expected broke into tears.  We had been invited there to talk, to teach, but we learned an enormous amount from each of them in the process.  Their warmth and dedication, their passion for play and love for their communities were astonishing. 

The Santa Clarita Valley Adventure Play team at the site of their amazing new play space.

We met teachers and parents, landscape architects, museum staff, parks and recreation staff, aquatics coaches and artists - a huge diversity of people who care about play and want to do more to support it in everyday life.  Being asked to speak to these audiences was a privilege, and a sign of enormous trust on the part of the hosts.  From each of them, we learned how people in incredibly different environments were already supporting play, sneaking it in through beurocratic cracks or making impassioned arguments to authority. 

Houston, TX

Newhall, CA

Manhattan Beach, CA

But many of them admitted to having felt terribly alone.  Luckily, this was something we could help with.

We started by asking each host to create a box of scrap goodies for the next location, forming a relay of gifts that lassoed the country. It was an idea that has been received warmly, and here is a little slideshow of this cool little exchange.

We are now match-making individuals and groups interested in connecting to inspire and encourage each other. The movement is already here, already happening, but playworkers should never work in isolation. Talk to your friends, your colleagues - and of course to us! - and we'll keep growing, together.

This is the second of three thank you posts from the Pop-Up Adventure Play and Special Guests Tour 2014. You can read the first one here. It you want to see more photos from the tour, please visit the album on our facebook page. For regular updates from us, hop onto our mailing list on

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Pop-Ups Tour 2014: Thank You (Part 1)

By Morgan

We were taught to write thank you notes after people had been kind to us, and one thing this tour has proven is that extraordinary kindness isn't really extraordinary after all. In fact, we met it in every stop, in every state, and before we'd even hit the road.

This is the first of our Tour Summary Thank You Posts and it goes out, only half in jest, to our car.

Oh Little Yellow Car, you were valiant!

We can't imagine that you were intended to drive nearly 11,000 miles through 28 States in two months, to trek from blizzards to desert heat and back again. Certainly not while lugging 3 people, their luggage, and a cargo box full of cardboard. People thought we were a little crazy, but you showed them! Not a cough or splutter from your engine (and we'll have the windshield replaced, that was really not your fault).

Brattleboro, VT

Even though you struggled up some of those hills, and sometimes found 75mph difficult to reach, you got us coast to coast and back again. When we hit the beach in California and ran out of you yelling, arms open to the sunset, we didn't mean anything by it. You gave us a place to lean, in the darkness of the redwoods, so that we could gaze at the stars. You drove through storms of rain and snow, with only an occasional 'check engine' light of protest. Not for nothing, in parking lots across the country you were very easy to spot.

Redwood Forest, CA

Actually, one of our favorite things was your high visibility. With those logo stickers on your doors, you announced our arrival better than we ever could. People came into workshops whispering “I don't know which people are from Pop-Ups, but I know they're here!”

Philadelphia, PA

Surprisingly roomy for one so small, you also gave us the unsurpassed game of Yellow Car FM. You gave us the cheery waves and confused stares of fellow travelers stuck in traffic, of toll booth operators and gas station attendants who were all wondering what on earth a tiny car with Vermont plates, packed with English people, was doing in their town. You gave us the opening to those conversations, and many more besides.

Middle of nowhere, OR

Thank you, Little Yellow Car. We love you.

For more photos from our adventure, please visit the tour's photo album on our Facebook page. To find out more about our work, join our mailing list on For more from Morgan, please visit her personal blog.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

On The Road 2014: Special Guest Number 3

By Morgan

We have some highly fabulous news to announce.  Are you ready? 

We have a third Special Guest - Erin Davis will be joining us in Philadelphia!

Many people have read and forwarded the recent article in the Atlantic about the Land, all about risk and joy and adventurous play.  Did you know that Erin is working on a documentary about the Land?  And that the Atlantic interviewed her all about it here?

Our Special Guests are carefully selected because they each contribute an expertise that we lack.  The first, Grant Lambie of Free Play Designs, has designed naturalistic and inclusive playgrounds across London and used beautiful images to walk audiences through the concept of slow design.  The second, Andy Hinchcliffe, is one of the managers of a childcare centre in Wyke, Bradford.  He shared stories of interactions with parents and other stakeholders, speaking eloquently of roles that an adventure playground might play in a local community over time. 

Erin Davis has been a friend of Pop-Up Adventure Play since the beginning - she was at our very first event in NYC.  Since then we've been emailing and chatting, forwarding links and occasionally even meeting in person.  She's a gifted storyteller and passionate advocate for play, and will be sharing her experiences from the filming of the Play Free Movie during the workshop at Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse on 11th April. Tickets are available here. 

Here's Erin on a rope swing in The Land when Pop-Ups Zan went to visit her. More from that visit can be found here.
Can't make it to the workshop?  Come along the next day for the free pop-up! Details of that can be found here - we look forward to seeing you there!

Team Pop-Up Adventure Play are currently on a 2 month tour around the USA. For more information on the tour, click here. Images from the tour can be found here, and for more from Morgan please click here.