Welcome to the final week of our WALKTOBER!
Day 26: Places Make People (on your Bingo Card)
Today, invite your inner child out for a walk to discover the delightful little details hidden everywhere - in plain sight, or in less expected places!
Every time I go out for a walk with my own child or children I’m working with on a project for Growing Up Boulder, I’m reminded how fun it is to slow down and catch sight of the funniest, silliest, most charming and fascinating ways people express themselves in their surroundings. As an urban planner focused on young people’s experiences of cities and neighborhoods, I named my consulting firm Places Make People because environments that are rich in sensory details build our brains and help root and connect us to where we are. That’s not to say we are only shaped by our environments, but rather, that we can intentionally create places that invite positive connections and inner delight just by nestling a toy dinosaur in some rocks, hanging a swing in the public right-of-way, installing a Little Free Library, or simply setting out a flock of pink flamingos!
Exploring places at 1 or 2 miles per hour, pausing and bending down every now and then to check out a neighbor’s fairy garden or peek beneath the overhanging boughs of a pine tree to see what might be hidden there awakens our inner child’s sense of adventure and helps us see our surroundings in a new way.
Follow the flamingos, or fairy gardens, or Little Free Libraries!
- Walk slowly around your neighborhood, or an area of your city or town you really like, keeping an eye out for tchotchkes, sculptures, small pieces of art, or little offerings people have left outside.
- Make an effort to look underneath and behind rocks and bushes in the public right-of-way (e.g., along the sidewalk, in the median strip between the sidewalk and street, in a public park or community garden), and to look in places you usually don’t stop to notice. You’ll be surprised how many people decorate their yards, trees, front porches, or gardens with little trinkets and fun things to find!
- Take a book with you on your walk and exchange it for a new one at each Little Free Library you can find. Wondering where some might be in your area? Check the online master map of registered libraries (not all Little Free Libraries are listed - you’re likely to find many more just by exploring).
Leave something fun to find!
- You can help make your neighborhood more fun and engaging for young and old walkers alike by leaving your own little trinkets for people to find. Earlier this year, some of our members enjoyed a delightful rock painting workshop with Walk2Connect core owner Maria Rosa Galter. Have you ever painted rocks and set them outside for others to find? Our amazing Kodiak Walks community has some prolific rock painters - check out the Kodiak Island Rocks Facebook page for ideas!
- Need more inspiration? Check out the fascinating works of urban artist Slinkachu, who creates tiny scenes using model railroad miniature people interacting with elements of the city. I don’t advise creating waste by leaving miniatures and other things outside, but a creative tableau here and there could really make someone’s day. Lately, some people have been making tiny picnic tables for squirrels and chipmunks and leaving snacks for them outside … that could be fun, too, if it’s in your own yard!
So, take your inner child outside to find things that make you laugh and that connect you with your surroundings and your neighbors in a new way. Above all, have fun!
I can’t wait to see what you find - be sure to document your discoveries and share them on our Facebook page.