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The play goes on - Projeto BIRA (Brazil)

"Ever since I was a kid, I've had a strong desire to travel all over Brazil, to get to know its diverse realities firsthand. When I'd travel with my parents, my eyes fixated on the landscape passing by, and I'd imagine myself visiting each little house on the side of the highway. I'd invent names and destinies for those kids with barefoot bodies whose eyes gazed into the wind, and for those old folks with crooked canes who spent hours on crooked benches in the shade of jacaranda trees . . . The childhoods and games in each place I passed were what always attracted me the most." - Renata Meirelles, How it all Began, Projeto BIRA

A few years ago - when I was getting started with BRINQ - I was thrilled to come across the work of Renata Meirelles and David Reeks, a Brazilian American couple that was working hard to document and share the toys and games of the Brazilian Amazon. Their stories of what they discovered and shared were truly inspirational and I had hoped to meet up with them on one of their trips back to the U.S. Unfortunately the timing didn't work out and I have since moved on to other projects, leaving my task of building a global toy chest sadly neglected. However a recent discussion on the Omidyar Network about recycled crafts and toys sent me looking for David and Renata's work once again and I was delighted to see what they've been doing in all this time.

The Power of Play - Pumping Water in Africa

Remember how much fun spinning around on a playground merry-go-round was when we were kids?

In our recent article, Capturing the Unexpected Innovation, we included a picture from a story we knew we had to chase down (see image right). Thankfully, just as we were looking for more, BBC News ran the article, "Why pumping water is child's play".

"It's a positive displacement water pump, and as the children spin around it transfers their energy into vertical or reciprocal motion, and that pumps water from an underground borehole or well to the surface where it's stored in a tank for future use."

With the children pushing the roundabout around 16 times a minute, the play-pump can produce 1,400 litres of water per hour from a depth of 40 metres.

User Centered Innovation - More on Innovation in Utility

For those that have followed our work here at BRINQ, our efforts with the toy industry, and our focus on discovering "Innovation in Utility", the Boston Globe has an article which has gotten us really EXCITED!!! It even starts with an example from the toy industry!

Here's a quick quote, you can find a link to the rest of the article below:

Ultimately, user-centered innovation may transform not only companies' product development processes but also business models, turning them into the providers of innovation toolkits to users and the marketers of their innovations, [MIT's] von Hippel suggests.

Innovation toolkits!! We definitely need to talk to this guy!

"Poti Baba" - the Magic Man, India's Arvind Gupta

Arvind Gupta

Arvind Gupta, the winner of India's first National Award for Science Popularisation, has taught hands on science and toy-making workshops to thousands of children throughout India. His trash-to-treasure lessons have been written up in numerous books, freely available for download.

"Twenty-five years ago, I discovered that if children see a scientific principle incorporated into a toy, they understand it better." - Arvind Gupta

At BRINQ, we've long been fans of magic man and toy tinker Arvind Gupta and his Little Toys, so we think it's high time we do our part in sharing his work with the world!

The Power of Play - Relief for Children of the Tsunami

How do you help children cope when their whole world has been swept away?

A number of tsunami relief organizations and corporations are showing that one answer is helping children do what they do best . . . play.

The Christian Children's Fund reports on CCF's role in the tsunami relief and helping children heal through play:

Amidst the death and destruction, CCF’s child centered spaces are providing an oasis of hope for children left homeless or orphaned by the tsunami. The child-friendly places provide organized activities to thousands of children living in camps who have lost their homes in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India.

Toni Radler, CCF’s Communications Director, visited the child-friendly places while assisting in the tsunami-affected areas. “They are making a huge difference for the children. Before these spaces were created, children were walking around listless or sleeping part of the day. Now they are playing games and singing, and even receiving informal education, such as math instruction. Several of our parent volunteers are actually kindergarten teachers,” she said.

A Playful Exchange - O Projeto BIRA (Brazil)

Projeto BIRA (Brincadeiras Infantis da Região Amazônica) is all about playful exchange: an effort to document and share the games and play cultures of Amazonian communities in the north of Brazil.Boy playing with a topProjeto BIRA (Brincadeiras Infantis da Região Amazônica) is all about playful exchange, an effort to document and share the games and play cultures of Amazonian communities in the north of Brazil:

This project is totally focused on games that are carried out by children, in areas where spontaneity is the principal means of communication and where the forest and its embellishments are the source for materials and challenges that motivate a diverse range of actions. These actions are easily recognized by parents, grandparents, and ancestors who play along in some form, even if it's only through a look that conveys the recognition: "Ahhh, I know how to play that." [StreetPlay.com]

Invention at Play

Here's a wonderful website and organization that is right up our alley, Invention at Play of the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, part of the Smithsonian museum.Invention at Play WebsiteHere's a wonderful website and organization that is right up our alley, Invention at Play of the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, part of the Smithsonian museum.

"The Lemelson Center is dedicated to exploring invention in history and encouraging inventive creativity in young people."

Invention at Play is both a website and a travelling exhibit, currently on display in Omaha, Nebraska and Wilmington, NC. More about the exhibit:

Invention at Play is a highly interactive, engaging and surprising traveling exhibit that focuses on the similarities between the way children and adults play and the creative processes used by innovators in science and technology. It departs from traditional representations of inventors as extraordinary geniuses who are “not like us‚” to celebrate the creative skills and processes that are familiar and accessible to all people. Visitors of all ages will experience various playful habits of mind that underlie invention.

Finding Blue in a Sea of Gray - Ute Craemer and the Associação Monte Azul

Changing lives and making toys in the Monte Azul ("Blue Hill") favela in São Paulo, Brazil.

In English, to feel "blue" signifies being depressed or sad, but in Portuguese "azul" (blue) signifies the opposite emotions of well-being and happiness. At first glance then, a sea of gray-brown shanty houses and slums seems like the least appropriate place to be named with this color of hope, but the Monte Azul (“Blue Hill”) favela in São Paulo carries the name regardless, and since 1975 the Associação Monte Azul has been proving that the name fits.

Brazilian Toy Libraries Bring Out the Child in Us All

CCF Brazil has established 24 toy libraries in several rural communities which serve nearly 600 children and 300 adolescents daily. Discarded socks, aluminum cans, and corncobs may look like trash to some, but to nine-year-old Junior of Brazil, they are balls, cars, and dolls in the making.

Fiction: Rain Dance (the importance of joy and play)

"Who is Rain?" asked the little girl in the lantern light.

"Rain is a dancer," I replied.

"A dancer?" she said, prompting for more.

"Yes, a dancer," I repeated, pausing for a moment to glance at our slumbering fields and up to the empty sky. The night was full and people were starting to arrive.

I raised my hand and gestured toward the stars, "Rain dances on the veil above, his feet tapping and bouncing on the cushion of the sky. Sometimes his feet will sink into the pillow of a cloud and water shakes loose and falls below to wash the earth and feed our crops. Some days he dances lightly, others with tumbles and leaps, the sound of his landing shaking the earth as his smile flashes and lights up the world."

"But he doesn't like to dance here," the little girl said, sandals removed and toes bunching on the dry earth beneath her feet.

"No," I replied, "not for a long time."

"But why?"

The truck with the speakers rumbled by. I waited until it had stopped at the improvised floor, where the circle would form, and then I leaned forward in my chair and said, "Let me tell you a story."

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