Can Play Save Us?

As the post-election storms continue to rock the world, a group of play enthusiasts are coming together to ask the question, can play help us heal from this divisiveness and turmoil? One Facebook post really caught my imagination. It was entitled, “Can Play Save Us?” Mathias Poulsen, Co-founder & Chairman of the Board of the NGO CounterPlay in Denmark, began his post by saying, “I need to act.” He went on to explain how a playful perspective is more vital than ever right now and therefore, so is his crusade. Between his words and the many inspiring comments, I’m re-energized to keep going as well.

So this episode is my refection on what I’ve been learning so far about play from PlayGrounding guests and how we might be able to answer the question, can play save us? In a special conversation with Amanda Coolong, Co-Chairman of the Board at WITI – Women In Technology International and former PlayGrounding guest, actress Michelle Barton, we’ll look at how play can pull us out of negative, non-productive thought patterns and open us up to inspiration and action. We’ll also learn from other former guests, Meg Athavale and Megan Sadd about play’s role in battling addiction and depression.

This is not my way of definitively answering Mathias’ question. It’s my starting place. I hope many more voices join in to help answer the questions he poses in his call for proposals for the CounterPlay Festival/Conference in 2017:

We wish to explore the potential role of playful participation, for individuals, communities and society at large. How might it facilitate a stronger sense of agency and become a catalyst of adaptability and change? In what ways can play inspire and encourage us to question the status quo and challenge the rules? When will our innate playfulness spark our imagination and curiosity, and will it enable us to see that the world could be transformed into something else? Should we consider play a political act that can shape societies? Could it even make democracy come alive through new forms of participation? Can play bolster our courage, so we dare to speak out and challenge established power structures and hierarchies?

Let’s start figuring it out together.

Show Notes

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  1. Mathias Poulsen

    Thank you for picking up on this, Kara!

    I really appreciate how you explore the question and the related issues from some very interesting angles and with really insightful people.

    Makes me look even more forward to continuing these conversations 🙂

    Oh, we’re actually now working on the fourth CounterPlay festival (after 2014-15-16), and we’ve already come quite a long way – for a tiny grassroots organization, at least. Here’s my personal take on “the future of CounterPlay”

    • karastewart

      Wow!! I want to work together with you to achieve these goals. If you don’t mind, I’d like to share my favorite quote from this post here: “I dream about a world where play is an essential part of life, and where you don’t have to make excuses or go to great lengths to hide your playful endeavours. In this future utopia, we are not afraid of embracing play, and playing in public is nothing out of the ordinary. Living a playful life doesn’t make people consider you any less serious or ambitious – perhaps rather the contrary. When the world is more playful, you are free to play around with habits, traditions, rules and power structures, challenging them and asking critical questions.”

      I encourage everyone to go read the rest of this post – you WILL be inspired!

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