Public Spaces

Little Free Libraries

Little Free Libraries are small personally managed ‘take a book or leave a book’ libraries. They are usually adorable. You can look at their Flickr gallery to see some examples of the awesomeness that people create.

If you want to have your library registered and affiliated with the site you need to pay a small fee. They send you an official plaque and list your library on their map so people can find you.

I would like to make mine with a green roof! I am not a builder type though and have no tools. I have a couple of friends who are and I plan on commissioning them to make this for me.


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Neighborhood Walks – Moss Edition

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Fun at Tilden Botanic Garden

I really love Tilden Botanic Garden. For one thing there are about one million little bridges. And there is just a pleasing variety of microclimates and fab plants.

The one on the end is a nudibranch or maybe a paramecium.

I realize a botanic garden probably isn’t the right venue for this but I did it anyway and it was pleasing. I will stick to using nature to make ephemeral art in urban places.

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Accessible playgrounds in the Bay Area

I want all children to have access to playgrounds and nature. One of the main problems I see with accessible playgrounds is that the designers lose site of the whole nature part.

How do we make sure playgrounds are inclusive of children of all abilities but still include all the the things kids need to play and learn?

How can it REALLY be done? Not just following the letter of ADA compliance that result in playgrounds with no nature and too much hot plastic surfacing?

I’m reading and thinking on this. Playgrounds can be crazy expensive. Natural elements might seem to imply too much risk, uncertainty and unrealistic upkeep needs. Why? And what to do?

Is no playground better than a playground some kids can’t access? Both scenarios are disheartening.

Some interesting resources:
Bay Area Accessible Playground Finder

Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto, CA

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A hike down the street

Plectranthus ciliates

Cute little Plectranthus ciliatus.
This Plectranthus is a South African plant often used as a ground cover around here. It likes shade but wants a bit of sun to keep the awesome red/purple underside. It is more shrubby right here, is in part sun, part shade and seems to be thriving with little water and on a steep grade.

This is our little road cut hike near our house. Actually, I can see the entrance to the path from my room RIGHT NOW. Mr. Who and I go there to inspect the state of things fairly often.

Snacks can be the best part of a hike when you are 5. Especially if you have carried them in your very own backpack.
"hiking" like 100 ft from our house on an embankment on the side of the road...

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Boston Children’s Museum

This picture is taken out the window of the Boston Children’s Museum while waiting for the tour of the authentic Japanese house (very cool, btw).


I watched the painted hopscotch game get used by several passers-by. There was also a great paver maze at the entrance to the museum. I love using the ground plane as a design element, it’s something that kids especially notice and can’t resist reacting to.

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SF airport – New Terminal 2

Anyone else been to the new(ish) SFO Terminal 2? Kudos to all who made it happen, srsly. It was like traveling on a fluffy cloud filled with unicorns, sushi and coffee.

Right after going through security the first thing that hit my eye was the ‘Yoga Room’. Say what?
Then, tons of art. filtered water stations. sushi.
You can read all about the art here.


An indoor play area for kids. SQUEEE!

Just that fact that an airport would admit that kids might be actual humans who deserve having their needs met in public was kind of shocking and, obviously, refreshing.


It was a tad spartan but such a great idea. One of the coolest features was the Butterfly Wall built and designed by Charles Sowers.


It had some fun climbing elements with an airiness that I assume was designed it to it so that parent’s wouldn’t freak out when they couldn’t see their child.


Please pardon the terrible blurry pics. I was juggling like twelve carry-ons and a coffee.

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Indian Rock

indian rock
We went off to explore Indian Rock in Berkeley this week. It did not disappoint.

J is just now 5 and somehow, once we climbed to the top of the rock (using the awesome stairs cut into the side), I was REALLY nervous having him up there. I like to pride myself on not being a helicopter mom but in this case I just kept picturing him sliding down to his doom and I couldn’t hack it. I made us go back down. There was plenty of scope for imagination around the lower parts of the rock.

We established our forts…
we declared our forts

And attacked!
and attack!

Foolishly I did not look up the rock before hand and so could not spout knowledgeably about the geology. Check the wikipedia article or this post from the awesome Oakland blog Oakland Geology. Rhyolite! Neat!

We had to leave because I was getting grumpy (I’ve been grumpy a lot lately) and I had to pee (this park lacks a bathroom making it totally unpractical for me) and we had to go to the store. We’ll be back to explore the more north side of the park later though definitely! Also, need to bring more kids so they can like play capture the flag or something!

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This garden is tight

this garden is tight

Is that the best graffiti or what? I love that it was clearly a teenager carrying around a paint marker for graffiti, enjoying the garden and commenting on it. It’s such a social thing to do, really. It reminds me of the very old graffiti in ancient temples.

There was an NPR article… let me find it… here it is. An Archeologist quoted in the article describes ancient graffiti as, “a spontaneous verbal outburst” that adds intimacy to the historical record of the ancient Levant and Mesopotamia”. She also describes graffiti as, “intimate, vocal and spontaneous”.

Awesome! That is totally how I feel even about crappy graffiti.

Someday I want to try moss graffiti, there is a good tutorial for moss graffiti here. This would also be a fun outdoor project for older kids!

Anyway, this garden IS tight and made even more so by the fact that is is a guerrilla garden. This garden is on an embankment by the road near my house that Frank Snapp has been gardening in (he also gardens on the median strips along this road) for many years. He uses natives and Mediterranean plants that require little to no upkeep. The garden is wild, just the way I like it. I haven’t met Frank but I hope to this summer.

I’ll blog more about some of the plants in this garden and how J and I ‘hike’ there.

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Rainbow slide in Sweden

I’ve seen a couple of pictures of this slide in a playground in Sweden.

Sagolekplatsen Malmö Stadsbibliotek

How fun does that look?! I want to go there immediately. I love the slide/bridge over a stream environment creation and that there are so many elevation changes visible in this picture. I wonder what the rest of this park is like!

Oh I searched around online web and found out it is The Fairytale Playground in Malmo.

Here’s a picture where you can see more of the park.

Temalekplats slottsparken

LOVE those grass mounds to the left.

and here’s a link to Alex Smith’s post on Playgroundology about the other awesome playgrounds in Malmo. Actually just go read his post about all the themed playgrounds in Malmo. Links and pics galore!

The Spiral Playground, also in Malmo, reminds me of the DNA strand in front of the Lawrence Hall of Science.
Here is my nephew climbing it
conquering the double helix

Oh this is a good pic too. You can see my son’s bald head. Heehehee
action shot

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