Let’s play!

The fun theory goes like this: ‘something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better.’ So how can we apply this to places? Easy – make them fun places to be, where people want to shop, interact and enjoy.

We’ve been searching for the great examples of adding a little fun and play into public spaces and we’ve found some, then added them to a powerpoint so you can present the idea to your committees and get some buy in and what should be very simple interventions to make your area more fun! We hope you find it inspiring…

Here’s the powerpoint: 5_examples_of_play_in_public_places

Need it in another format? No problems, let us know.

NEED MORE HELP TO GET SOMETHING FUN HAPPENING IN YOUR AREA? We are offering a free consultation and help with implementation* of a fun project to a worthy precinct  – just answer the question, Why do you need to play? ENTER NOW at projects@thelocalexperience.com.au. Entries close Sunday 9 December!

One winning answer, about what makes their place a great candidate for play in a public space,  will receive a needs assessment, play design and implementation plan from us, and we will be showcasing your activity on our website through video and images. Oh, and you need to be ready to start playing this year.

*Totally free, but if you’re outside of Melbourne, there may be some travel costs involved, let’s talk about it!


Does walking bring in the money?

There’s an argument to be made that a place conducive to walking will be economically successful. Here’s some facts:

  • The London study Quality streets: why good walking environments matter for London’s economy examined
    economic impacts of walking and public realm improvements, through a series of interviews across a range of business sectors: landowners and developers, retailers, developers and entertainment service providers. It emerged that:
    • All businesses rely on attracting customers whether they are passing retail trade, or tenants for an office block.
    • 85 per cent of respondents identified the quality of the streetscape as “important” in the ability to attract customers or tenants.
    • 89 per cent of respondents felt that “their front door is the street” and critical to self-image.
  • In the Australian suburb of Yarra (inner suburb of Melbourne) 82 per cent of local residents, 48 per cent of local workers and 41 per cent of visitors travel by foot, bicycle or public transport to get to the five local main shopping streets. Most local residents and workers visit a main street very frequently (many daily and 80-90 per cent more than once a week). Even though they spend less per visit (about half) than the “visitors”, local residents/workers provide 75 per cent of local retail and services turnover. The amount of “non-drive-in spend” ($/visit x frequency x active transport mode share) is estimated to be 50 per cent on average for Yarra’s shopping streets.
  • A New Zealand survey found that retailers and shoppers have different priorities.7 When asked about  transportation and urban design of local shopping areas, it was found that shoppers placed a high importance on crossings, wide footpaths and frequent bus services, but not a lot of importance on on-road parking. Retailers considered parking as the primary concern. High quality urban design and provision for sustainable
    transport were identified as important by both shopper and retailers.
    (From the Heart Foundations’ Report: Good for Business)
  • The economic uplift associated with taking traffic out of Times Square and making it a place for people included: 84% of people dwelled in the area for longer, 42% of NY residents visited Times Square more often and 26% of employees in the area took lunch more often
  • Closing Madero Street in Mexico City to vehicles resulted in a four-fold increase in footfall and a five-fold increase in spending

(Thanks to Cycling Rachel for the summary)

Do we need to rethink the design of our mainstreets and cities to encourage and promote walking? Looks like it.

So how can we encourage walking in our local area now?

  • Ensure we have clean, litter free streets
  • Create places for people to linger (posted a great example of a park bench library to our facebook page not long ago!)
  • Encourage the exploration and discovery of streets on foot. Photography competitions are a great way to do this. As are maps and guides.

Some other great walking resources: http://www.walk21.com/charter/default.asp for walking conferences and home to the International Charter for Walking.

Get the walk score of your local area here: http://www.walkscore.com/

Any other ideas or resources, feel free to post them.

Using artists to create spaces

Using the term ‘artist’ loosely, there has of course long been an association between public art and attracting people to an area. But there’s been a few developments lately worth noting.

First is a fabulous project created by The Border Project and Melbourne Zoo.

What’s it all about:

I, Animal is a world-first interactive experience – part multi-media tour, part theatrical experience, part animal encounter – that has been designed for adults only at Melbourne Zoo.

Launching on 23 November 2012, I, Animal uses ground-breaking technology to take you on a remarkable, and surprisingly emotive, journey through the interior of Melbourne Zoo at night.

You will embark on an unexpected, provocative adventure that explores our pre-conceptions about the animal kingdom and questions the boundaries between human and animal.

Sound awesome or what?

The next is the announcement that a National Local Government Cultural Forum has been established in partnership with The Cultural Development Network (CDN), the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) and Global Cities Research Institute (RMIT University), and is part of the Australia Council for the Arts, Community Partnerships’ National Sector Development Initiative.

It will generate ideas and learn from the experiences of over 500 councils in Australia; and provide a laboratory of CACD practice for testing new ways of strengthening communities and improving health and wellbeing through the arts.

So there seems to be some great developments happening in the arts/community space and I look forward to hearing more. Anything interesting happening in your area? How could you utilise ‘artists’ to create an experience for your area?