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[VIDEO] Creativity and Bay Area Innovation, Part VI: Play!

One of the most undervalued aspects of creativity and innovation is the aspect of play. Though children do it naturally, we adults tend to neglect its value, often falling into the trap of relentless, unceasing productivity.

Ground zero for play grounds

Recently, I made a trip The Koret Children’s Playground in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

Spread over a wide area of sand and squishy soft surfaces were two distinct sets of playground equipment, one set for toddlers and young children, another larger set for the older ones, a rope pyramid, a water area for splashing and sand castles, climbable sculptures of hermit crabs and pelicans, life-sized concrete waves with holes and divots to facilitate climbing, and two, large, somewhat dangerous concrete slides set in the hillside with two sets of steep, scary stairs on either side to access them. It’s an awesome playground for both kids and adults to explore; a place for quality “downtime” that allows creativity to flourish. While my daughter worked her motor skills trying to climb steel latter to access the spiraling slides, I tested my balance walking along the lowest rung of the rope pyramid.

Even more significant, upon leaving I learned that this wasn’t just any children’s playground. Established in 1887, it was the first public children’s playground established in the whole of the United States, a fact which made my ardent love for the Bay Area, well, supercalifragilisticexpialidociously more ardent.

The Bay loves to play

One of the most undervalued aspects of creativity and innovation is the aspect of play. Though children do it naturally, we adults tend to neglect its value, often falling into the trap of relentless, unceasing productivity.

This last weekend, however, with the weather warmer than normal, and the sun shining on the Bay, the redwoods, the bridges, and the rows of picturesque Victorians, I felt my own creative juices flowing watching all the lovely people filling the streets, bringing the city to life, willing to get off the hamster wheel and play for a bit.

I believe both the willingness to play as well as the opportunity to play, have contributed to the prolific amount of creativity and innovation coming out of the Bay Area. It’s not just the children’s playground. Adults get their creativity flowing by visiting the many museums, by taking time to go for a nice meal, by visiting the many parks, by exploring trails and natural reserves, by attending the free concert series in Stern Grove and in Golden Gate Park, and, as tens of thousands do, including some of the movers and shakers of some of the most innovative tech companies in the world today, by heading off to the largest privately funded art festival this side of the Mississippi, Burning Man, where creativity and innovation abounds in a temporary city of well over 50,000 people.

Play is a vital component of creativity and innovation

If you want to lead a creative life, do not neglect play–full-body, whole-person play. Allow the full spectrum that is you to be wracked and refreshed by silliness and irreverence. Take your serious adult self down a dangerous concrete slide. Don’t just watch the children play, don’t be sucked into your “smart” phone, play! Your creativity and your innovation will thrive if you feed your inner child soulful experiences of (seemingly) low productivity and unbridled zaniness.

What type of creator are YOU? Take the Creativity Quiz and find out!

About the “Creativity and Bay Area Innovation” series

The Bay Area is hands down the single most creative and innovative region in the United States, receiving a whopping 32 percent of all the venture capital invested in the United States.

The Bay Area is hands down the single most creative and innovative region in the United States.

Home to such major players as Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Oracle, and numerous others, the Bay Area receives a whopping 32 percent of all the venture capital invested in the United States, according to the Bay Area Regional Center. It also has the second highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies next to New York.

All the money aside, the Bay Area has either begun or fostered the growth of such influential cultural movements as The Counter Culture Movement, Free Speech, Gay Rights, California Cuisine and the Local Foods Movement, the Internet, municipal recycling programs, Beat poetry and literature, psychedelic experimentation, and music festivals, such as Burning Man.

In this series, I will explore various ways of understanding the proliferation of creativity and innovation of the Bay Area, including Feng Shui, geology, culture, urban design, and history, hoping to shed a bit of light on a place I love so very much, hoping to honor some of the ways it has shaped my own creativity throughout my adult life.

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