Befriending

The growth of the pop-up park

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A team of researchers in Australia are urging urban planners to embrace temporary green spaces

Had you been taking a stroll around downtown San Francisco in late September 2005 you might have noticed something unusual – an ordinary parking space turned into a tiny park featuring a tree, a patch of grass and a bench. This miniature patch of greenery was the brainchild of three urban designers and led to an unexpected global movement known as PARK(ing) Day. Held on the third Friday of September every year, PARK(ing) Day has seen thousands of otherwise grey spaces temporarily transformed, from a spot on London’s South Bank to a sidewalk in Alaska.

The PARK(ing) Day movement captured imaginations, but it’s not the only one of its kind. Pop-up parks (PUPs) are a growing phenomenon, one that a group of urban researchers from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology is taking seriously. They argue that PUPs (which they define simply as ‘temporary green spaces’) have the capacity to benefit both biodiversity and the people who live in cities. The group cites several studies that have demonstrated the importance of nature for human wellbeing, including a paper in the Annual of Public Health which concluded that: ‘Taken together, the research reviewed does indicate that contact with nature can promote health. The evidence for some benefits, such as short-term restorative effects, is already quite strong.’

A’Beckett Urban Square PUP on the City Campus of RMIT University in Melbourne, AustraliaA’Beckett Urban Square PUP on the City Campus of RMIT University in Melbourne [Image: J Gollings]

‘There’s a lot of underutilised space in cities, and it’s going to be increasingly key to bring nature back into cities and have it close to offices,’ says Luis Mata, lead author of the study. ‘Some PUPs might only last for a couple of hours, whereas others last for years and may even become a path to something permanent. Depending on their deign and their spatial and temporal scales some will provide more benefits for people, some for biodiversity and some for both.’

The study points to a number of PUPs already in motion. In particular, San Francisco’s ‘Pavement to Parks’ program – an initiative that seeks to transform underutilised street spaces into public plazas known as ‘parklets’. It also refers to the UK’s Design Council and its ‘Knee High Design Challenge’ funding scheme which saw a PUP project trialled in Lambeth and Southwark. The transformed spaces were designed to encourage play and were filled with games for young children.

the “Grasslands” PUP at the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne“Grasslands” PUP at the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne [Image: M Stanton]

To address the lack of research into such spaces, the researchers want to see future sites become ‘socioecological laboratories’ in which urban planners conduct experiments to inform future design. Leading the way, Mata and his colleagues carried out their own analysis on a PUP in their home-town of Melbourne. They found that the six-week project called ‘Grasslands’, installed at the State Library of Victoria, saw insect pollinator abundance increase by around 160 per cent while the PUP was present.

The human impact of these spaces is harder to evaluate precisely. Nevertheless, the researchers contend that in dense urban environments with plenty of small, underutilised spaces, PUPs can help people spend time in nature, as well as foster community and in particular, creativity. ‘Creative thinking is sometimes lacking in academia,’ says Mata. ‘This new movement of people with artistic minds thinking of putting nature into cities is really excellent and is something that PUPs are uniquely placed to take advantage of.’

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Fancy a “sidewalk” talk?

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In the Autumn of 2014, two San Francisco therapists shared a vision: to help heal that which divides us through the fine art of skilled listening. They gathered 26 of their colleagues, practiced listening skills and came up with a curriculum and model for listening on the sidewalks together.

On May 7th 2015, for 2 hours in 12 locations throughout San Francisco, listeners set up chairs and signs, offering to listen to any passer-by who wanted to be seen and heard.  The result was amazing.  And soon after a group from Los Angeles asked if they could reproduce it.  There was never an intention for this thing to grow.  Every person met at Sidewalk Talk is just like you, someone who believes that human connection is the way to create healthy humans, healthy politics, and a healthy world.

Today Sidewalk Talk has 1700 volunteers world-wide. They have groups in 40 cities around the globe. They have grown but remain grassroots by design.  The focus is creating an active, engaged community of volunteers who commit to a regular listening practice and who connect with each other, not just the people they listen to.

Is this a way to gather not only people’s thoughts and opinions, but also raise the important of what the man on the “sidewalk” has to say? Would this work in our communities? Worth a thought!

Linking Generations

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Connections between generations are proven to enrich the lives of both young and seniors in long-lasting and meaningful ways.

When young people find ways to engage and develop relationships with the elderly, these experiences can build self-esteem, develop leadership skills, and encourage a lifelong commitment to volunteering.

For seniors, intergenerational connections provide the opportunity to transfer knowledge and wisdom, acknowledge self-worth, and feel they are contributing members of society.

In today’s world, many young people are experiencing less interaction with seniors because of homogenous neighborhoods, dispersed extended families, and increasing segregation of seniors living in care facilities or in isolation

Some of the benefits of intergenerational work include:

  • Creation of age friendly communities.
  • All generations have a lot to both teach and learn from each other and contribute to lifelong learning.
  • Tackles issues around stereotyping and ageism.
  • Increases understanding and respect between older people and younger people.
  • Chance to make new friends and combats social isolation.

 

Healthy Mind, Healthy Body

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As you get older, keeping your mind active and healthy can become a big challenge. Your mental abilities generally decrease with age, particularly if your brain is not stimulated much. If your mind is not healthy and active in later life, you can have an increased chance of developing dementia (otherwise known as Alzheimer’s Disease). As well as age, your mental abilities can be affected by medical conditions and any medication that you are on to treat these.

A healthy mind can work wonders for improving your general health. Nutrition is believed to play a key role in keeping your mind healthy and active, and a good diet is essential for maintaining your general health. Recommended nutrition for an active mind includes fresh fruit and vegetables, salads, an adequate amount of carbohydrates and plenty of water (and fluids in general).

Some experts have suggested that several of the mental changes that were originally believed to be the result of getting older are actually caused by your lifestyle. This means that making the effort to keep your mind active and healthy through regular stimulation can have definite benefits for your mental abilities.

This can involve going back into education, taking home study courses, involving yourself in a new hobby or interest, doing stimulating puzzles (such as crosswords and Sudoku), playing games that require you to think (such as Scrabble or chess), reading books , exercising on a regular basis and using brain-training programs.

How to Improve and maintain your mental wellbeing

 

Volunteer with us

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Volunteers fulfill a variety of roles within Aberdeenshire Council 

Becoming a volunteer with Aberdeenshire Council is a great way to learn and develop new skills, build confidence and enhance your CV.

There are many opportunities to become a volunteer with Aberdeenshire Council

Want to know more, click on http://jobs.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/volunteer-with-us/

or visit the facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Move-More-Aberdeenshire-542472342807239/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel where updates will be posted regularly

OPEN YOUR DOOR TO WELLBEING

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Open Door To wellbeing

FREE EVENT!

OPEN YOUR DOOR TO WELLBEING

St Bridget’s Hall, Stonehaven

Saturday 31st Oct 2015

10am – 12noon

Come along to our FREE event!

Explore local opportunities to help you look after

Your health and wellbeing!

Stalls, refreshments, information and

entry into a FREE prize draw!

Empowering Conversations Workshops

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pamis

Are you looking after someone?  Do your emotions get in the way when you are speaking to professionals?   PAMIS, an organisation that supports those with profound and multiple learning disabilities and their families are organising a two-part workshop for our families on having ‘Empowering Conversations’ on Tuesday 1st and Tuesday 8th September (at the Mile End Community Centre, Mid Stocket Road in Aberdeen AB15 5PD).  The sessions will be run by professional mediators will help equip you with being able to get your voices heard effectively and negotiate with services around Self- Directed Support.   Priority will be given to carers of those with profound disabilities but we will try and accommodate other carers who are interested in attending.  Please see attached poster.  Sessions will be from 10 till 2.30pm and lunch/tea & coffee will be provided. 

Places are limited so please call or email me to book your place!!

Amy Anderson

PAMIS Grampian Family Support Director


52 Evan St

Stonehaven

AB39 2ET

01569 764 221

a.j.anderson@dundee.ac.uk