Curate joy

I’ve been dwelling much on happiness, actually the lack thereof. After several connections with lovely beings, I’ve adopted a new mantra to curate joy into my everyday. I can’t change the weather but I can change my outlook to suit my desired climate. And also, the anklebiters seem to function better when I’m not in such a pessimistic mood.

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unfunny things

This week’s book is an accidental gem. I’ve spied its cover many a touches at the library but passed over it due to its piecemeal and rather hectic illustrations. And I also thought it was an Italian/English book given its title: Mi and Museum City. Nevertheless, Linda Sarah has come up with a sleeper. Mi lives in the middle of Museum City. Surrounded by “museums about uninteresting things”, Mi feels bored and lonely. Enchanted by the loveliest music he’s ever heard, Mi wanders across mountains and rivers  until he meets Yu plucking his one-stringed instrument.

 

I am Mi! Happy to meet you!

I am Yu, happy to meet Mi!

Discovering such enjoyment, together they approach the Mayor for permission to create museums that curate and share their own joys. For Yu, instruments making music. For Mi, pebbles dropped from different heights. Mi and Yu slowly captivate and persuade the Mayor to open museums reflective of each resident’s joys. Up erected Museum of Very Unstabley but Very Nice. Yes. and Museum of Invisible Things that Do Exist. Museums of an array of shapes and sizes to amuse the senses. A city where Mi and Yu are no longer lonely nor bored.

Anklebiter 1 is entertained by this book. If possible, think Dr Seuss on LSD. From spying “elephant dogs riding on peanut shells” to strumming along on Yu’s one-stringed instrument, there was no shortage of things to enrapture his attention. He likes that there exists an infinite source of potential joys. Perhaps it validates his current penchant for digging up “worms and buried treasure and snails” (in that order). I do like it for the fact that the beauty and joy of the urban is certainly what you can fathom to imagine. In all of its glorious quirks rather than the mass-produced experience (ahem). I’d personally create a Museum of Colourful Things Hanging from the Ceilings or Museum of Blowing Dandelion Seeds and Other Whimsical Floaters. What Museum would you curate?

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imagine a joy museum

Loose parts

“A castle, made of cartons, rocks, and old branches, by a group of children for themselves, is worth a thousand perfectly detailed, exactly finished castles, made for them in a factory.”

-Christopher Alexander, A pattern language

A simple request to play

“Mum, can you play with me.”

“Mum, can you read with me.”

“Mum, can you sing THAT song. (Again?)”

I often indulge these request because I know there will be a day when I will not be asked. But there are certainly days, hours, minutes when I feel like this:

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too busy, taken from Aaron Beckers’ Journey

 

Sometimes we are too busy, but thank goodness the kids can and do play independently. And with that, I’d like to introduce this week’s POTUS approved  picture book. (Yes, we’re late bloomers.) Aaron Becker’s initiation into the trilogy is indeed magical. Journey is a wordless wonder.  Our heroine, unable to garner play interest from her family, sets off on an adventure ala Harold and his purple crayon. She enters a forest, sails through a castle, flies through the air by sheer imagination rendered by her red crayon. Whilst afloat, she witnesses the capture of a purple bird aboard a steampunk floating ship. Fearless, the heroine rescues the purple bird only to be captured. Through a series of events, our heroine finally returns to her street guided by the purple bird. The magic occurs when she discovers and befriends a new playmate as a result of the purple bird. The two-page spreads manifest a richness of storytelling. It is a darker book than we are accustomed to reading: armoured guards rather than fluffy bunnies, uplifted networks of canals rather than construction mounds of excavated dirt.

Both ankle biters are under the three milestone. I wasn’t quite sure how they’d take to the wordless format of Journey. Anke biter 1 loved it. He poured over the details and wanted to know what happened next. “Oh no, her boat’s about to fall.” “Her balloon takes her up.” I appreciate the book because it emphasises the simplicity of play and imagination ending with such friendship and warmth. No iPhone, no tablet, in sight. Oh joy for boredom and rocking the crayon.

Wordless picture books are our new found best friends. Each reading is different and opens up endless adventures and relevancies. Absolutely TUI (that’s us, The Urban Imagined) approved!

Image courtesy of author, Vivian Romero.

 

#urbankindness take 2

urban sympathy
#urbankindness@theurbanimagined.wordpress.com

Welcome back to urban kindness: 7 weeks 7 projects. I hope you have dusted the chalk off your fingers. After much thought, I think I might have lead you a bit astray. (Blame my giddiness for the impulsiveness!)  I think honestly before you can share some urban kindness, you probably should know a thing or two about your own sliver of urban. So consider this week’s project a new beginning.

 In 1959, Kevin Lynch (an urban design theorist) invited twenty-seven people to take a walk with him in Boston, Massachusetts. (Oh, Kevin, if only I were alive!) Underlying this seemingly innocuous walk was the belief that aspects of the neighbourhood influence people’s memory and subsequent use of the space.

“We are about to take a short walk. Don’t look for anything in particular, but tell me about the things you see, hear, or smell; everything and anything you notice.” -Kevin Lynch

When is the last time you took a walk in your neighbourhood? A true lingering walk, noticing the colour of your neighbours jumper? The cracks on the footpath? The whizz of the bicycles? For this week’s project, I challenge you to walk in your neighbourhood. Pretend you’re with Kevin (at least I do) and capture either in your mind’s eye or on your phone’s camera the details that create the intricacies of your neighbourhood. If you’d like, please share along on instagram tagging it with #urbankindness. Knowing your neighbourhood is the first and enduring urban kindness that you can do. Enjoy your saunter!

#urbankindness take 1

urban sympathy
#urbankindness@theurbanimagined.wordpress.com

Welcome back to urban kindness: 7 weeks 7 projects and happy World Kindness Day to you. Did you wake up with a smile today? I certainly didn’t. It was raining. But then I remembered that I was off to post the inaugural urban kindness act. That’s the beauty of urban kindness, simple and swift, it changes the mood instantaneously. I endeavour all of these acts to occur outside, if even only outside your doorstep. They require a little gumption on your part because after all you will be interacting with the world thar yonder. They will be simple because I am not a complicated kind of person and require minimal materials. Anonymous kindness is the best kind but if you feel like sharing (and I hope you do because I want to be equally inspired) pop it up on instagram tagging it with #urbankindness. So onwards and upwards!

I’d like to think I breathe out colour. Vivid indigo and brilliant cerise and quiet eggshell. So for this inaugural act it is befitting it involves colour. That’s right, a little covert chalk art. I’m inspired by all those out there. A big shout out to Matty Angel as I was moved to do this:

An outdoor hopscotch for the young and young at heart in the hood. I just used actions that Ankle biter 1 seems keen on these days. Actions are as limited as your imagination…

Stand and kiss the sky.

Do a little dance,

Laugh.

Walk backwards.

Whisper hello.

I couldn’t tell you who followed along if they did at all but my neighbour let me know at the end of the evening as I knocked on her door to drop off some post “Is that your drawing? We just got done playing with it.” Yippee.

#urbankindness bench warmth
#urbankindness bench warmth

I didn’t stop there. With chalk in hand I walked over to the park and left my mark. You see, I walk through this park every week and usually I see some solitaire individual sitting at the bench eating lunch. I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be nice if they were out in this weather to see something nice. A tingle of warmth if you will?  I think the thing about the park is that it is quite PUBLIC. The shy part of me clouded my thinking: I was not suppose to be ‘defacing’ footpaths. What if someone stops me? But come on, it’s chalk. It’s temporary. It’s an act of kindness. It’s drizzling. So the shyness wilted and I tried to make someone’s day a little less dreary. Will you come and chalk art some kindness with me?