Our temporary play zones are experimental research vessels. With every new world we create, we reflect, adjust, and produce new ones informed by participants’ input and the observation of participants’ experiences. We rely on ethnographic methods and sensibilities to assess our processes and evaluate whether play offers a legitimate alternative to traditional problem-solving approaches in urbanism, and if it can contribute to shaping new urban planning practices. We share both our empirical and theoretical learning about public play locally and internationally. Over time, our goal is to support relevant research conducted by academics and students from high school through the post-graduate level. To date, we have published an academic paper, "Imagine! You have Nothing to Lose: Collaboration and Play in Urban Development" in the journal Critical Sociology in May, 2014. The paper examines a weekend-long workshop conducted with the collective Social Agency Lab and the Rebuild Foundation in St. Louis.
We explore the potential of play in forging a common vocabulary among diverse actors, which, we argue, facilitates the pursuit of pluralistic visioning. The work was also presented at the 2014 Digital Media and Learning Conference in Boston.
Research topics include:
• Play in urbanism/urban planning
• Impacts of placemaking
• “Social practice” as art practice
• Transition from participation to collaboration in urban planning
• The role of imagination and creativity in urban development
• The Creative Economy framework
• Play as an ethnographic method
• Publics, public space and urban privatization
• Art and epistemology