Thursday, 27 December 2018

End of Year Reflections: 2018

By Morgan

As I write this, it’s the little gap of time between Christmas and New Year, when the world seems cold and quiet. My notes say to talk about how Suzanna and I spent this year apart - no tours, no shared events, but instead focusing on home and local work. Then I looked at the notes of where we’ve both been, and remembered that our version of “quiet” is still pretty darn busy! 

Suzanna went to Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore to do some training, and to Portugal to do her first ever solo keynote in the beautiful town of Cascais. I stayed more local (relatively) by visiting the Heritage Museum (MA), The Yard and Brooklyn Wild (both in NY), Sunflower Creative Arts (Florida), and popping by the Prioritizing Play Conference held by our good friends KOOP in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. We’ve also brought 26 students onto our flagship Playworker Development Course, and continue providing an online opportunity for folks working in recess or after school programs, called Playful Schools Online.  Not least, we’ve started working with individuals in a new way, through online coaching for play advocates and project leaders. 

Clementi Park Pop-Up Adventure Playground with Chapter Zero Singapore

All this leads neatly into our Biggest Thing Right Now, which is the second ever Playwork Campference! Will you be there?

It’s been two years since the first Campference, and people keep telling us what it’s meant to them - how important and rare it felt to spend whole days with others who are passionate about play. Those of us who share this particular playwork perspective have a way of both needing and finding one another. That’s because (as proud as we are of our online courses) this is an approach that you need to learn in person, through practice and reflection, which is to say through community. We couldn’t be prouder to be helping this phenomenal movement grow. Every registration matters, every donation to our financial aid program and Playworker Traveling Fund helps us to enrich and diversify attendance. If you can make it, we’d love to see you. If you can’t, please consider supporting on the ground work around the world.

At the beginning of this post, I mentioned local projects. It’s been a funny little irony for us, spending so much of the past decade helping people far away do work in their own neighborhoods. Suzanna has been doing far more, which you can read about here, but I had a little attempt as well. In these stories, we accidentally show two paths that we’ve seen again and again for folks who reach out to us. Some will host dozens of pop-up adventure playgrounds, connecting with local businesses and building community. Others will host one, and suddenly realize (or remember!) how much work is involved. I’ve followed both of those paths at different times, but I guess I just wanted to give a little shout out to any readers who may be concerned that hosting a pop-up is an enormous amount of work, that they don’t have time to dedicate to it, that the timing isn’t quite right.

If that’s you, here’s my advice. You might be right. And it doesn’t matter at all.

If you want to host your first pop-up, keep it small. That helps it to feel possible, sustainable, so you can keep going. But if you decide that you just can’t right now, that you don’t have the resources or volunteers you need, that’s okay too. Sometimes, some years, we need to put our focus elsewhere.  Maybe it’s time to see where you can fill your own cup first, and create more opportunities for play in your own life. That’s okay. Forgive yourself, and start by supporting play in the most 'local' way of all. 

That, and stay in touch, because one thing we’ve seen is that when people prioritize play - in their own lives, their families or their communities - it has a way of growing. Winter is a good time of year to remember that, because while it seems like the world is quietly asleep things remain busy underground, working magic in the darkness. It’ll happen in its own time, and when it does you’ll be ready. 

If you want to read more from Pop-Ups Morgan, you can find her on her personal blog here. More from us and what we get up to day to day, you can check out our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Monday, 24 December 2018

Popping Up in the Community - Part 6 - Celebrating 2018

By Zan

It has been an amazing year for me at Pop-Up Adventure Play. Not only have I managed to travel to two new countries with this little charity, but I have also started embedding play into my own community. I've been in the field for over 10 years now but have never had the opportunity to work on my own doorstep, but thanks to the Co-op Local Community Fund, I had a little bit of cash, a network of people, and a desire to make a difference in my neighbourhood.

The year has flown by, and I have an overwhelming feeling of being happy-tired when I think back. It's been busy but a good busy and I am so very proud to be telling you about the following numbers:

We hosted 19 pop-up adventure playgrounds... 4 different locations...
....where over 466 children between the ages of 0-16...
....were brought to play by 374+ adults.

We did this using £2,554.30 from the Co-op Local Community Fund...
...which was supplemented by £800 from Friday Food Nights at Radcliffe Market Hall and £100 from Prestwich Arts Festival...
...and further amplified by £558.86 of donations from wonderful play supporters in the local area from a variety of fundraising opportunities.

This means we were able to raise a total of £4063.16 in 2018.

This couldn't have been possible without an amazing network of people whom I will now attempt to list and thank personally. Brace yourselves for a lot of gratefulness. I have to thank thank you to....

Financial Support:
~ Co-op Local Community Fund - for giving us our start
~ Friday Food Nights at Radcliffe Market Hall, specifically Jodie - for having faith in the longevity of the project
~ Prestwich Arts Festival, specifically Jane - for reaching out and expanding our local reach
~ Folks of the local community - for your generosity

~ David - for being my rock, steady and calm at all times
~ Charlotte - for speaking up at the right time, and being there just when we needed
~ Andy - for taking the time to drive over the Pennines
~ Fiona - for helping when emotions spilled over
~ Mildred - for believing in the power of the box
~ Avanah - for being our first young volunteer
~ Faye - for rocking up and then just rolling with it
~ Dad - for being there every time I wondered if everything was going to fall apart
~ Pat - for saying yes and being there even though things were mad

~ Heaton Park Methodist Church - for believing in me and being the first location to host (read more about this location here and here)
~ Radcliffe Market Hall - for ongoing support and patience with our mess (read about it here)
~ Phoenix Center - for enjoying the madness, twice (read about it here)
~ St Mary's Park - for opening up your space to us for the first ever outdoor pop-up

Other Donations:
~ Live Electrical Radcliffe (encouragement, little boxes, tape and a million white stickers)
~ Think Design (business support, a big roll of brown paper and boxes)
~ Think Flooring and Carpets (cardboard tubes and carpet samples)
~ Radcliffe Flooring (carpet samples, cardboard tubes and vinyl samples)
~ Warent Feingold (business support, encouragement, accounts and boxes)
~ Self Storage Ian (loose parts and stuff for fundraising events)
~ Stanmore Insurance (insurance, ball pool balls and boxes)
~ Matt (moving house boxes)
~ Emma (box factory boxes)
~ Lindsay (boxes and an amazing pop-up sign)
~ Lynne (boxes and packing materials)
~ Pres (boxes and baskets)
~ Jade (boxes)
~ Rebecca (loose parts, packing materials and boxes)
~ Home Bird Crafts (raffle prize and giant box)
~ Adele (raffle prizes and boxes)
~ Lee and Dave (stuff for fundraising events)
~ Fiona and family (Judy the Trolley and stuff for fundraising events)

This isn't the whole list. I know it's not. Because there have been some secret donations, some passing conversations, some folks who have been supporting us without me even realising. To everyone who secretly left a roll of stickers on my table, or argued my case for a pop-up in a location, or invited a connection to come over and say hello, or shared my event in good faith, or fed me when I was too busy to feed myself.... thank you. You folks are wonderful, you genuinely are. Thank you so much for everything you have done to make this year go smoothly. All these playful events, all this talk of play, all the boxes and the play opportunities and the random fundraising, it is for you. Thank you in believing in the cause, and thank you for being part of it. Let's do it all again in 2019.

Pop-Ups Zan has been running Pop-Up Adventure Playgrounds in the Manchester community and is super excited to be doing it as Just Play MCR by Pop-Up Adventure Play - a brand new FB page that will host the events. Go check it out and join the community of Manchester's play advocates!