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99 Ideas for Making Your Town More Playful from CM

CM_logo-200pxAs summer approaches, you may be looking for ways to make your neighborhood, town, or city more fun and engaging. If you are, our friends at CommunityMatters have a ton of ideas for way you can do that!

CM recently shared two posts (here and here) with ideas for making your space more engaging and out of the ordinary. So to help give you food for thought for the summer months, we put the lists together below. They also hosted a conference call about it called Creating Fun Places that you can listen to here.

We hope these ideas will get your creative juices flowing and help you make your summer more interesting! Thanks to CM staffer Caitlyn Horose for putting all of these together!

75 Seriously Fun Ways to Make Your Town More Playful

  1. Join the CommunityMatters conference call on play and placemaking 
  2. Turn the subway into a swing set 
  3. Munch people with your eyes

    Photo credit: Audrey Penven

  4. Turn your street into a Play Street 
  5. Let sidewalks be trampolines
  6. Play pong with traffic lights
  7. Transform a set of stairs into a piano
  8. Give pedestrians the keys to your city
  9. Host a hummingbirdman rally
  10. Embed games in public seating
  11. Think more like a roller coaster designer
  12. Rethink the public library as a place for play
  13. Start a citywide festival of play
  14. Challenge people to try alternative transportation
  15. Create a local currency, then turn it into a game
  16. Get all ethereal and make a playground in the air
  17. Install a swing just about anywhere
  18. Make a plan for engaging your community in play
  19. Give everyone on the street a nametag for a day
  20. Turn your laundromat into an art studio
  21. Paste silly thoughtbubbles in your neighborhood
  22. Fix crumbling infrastructure with legos
  23. Make cupcakes for strangers
  24. Transform a bike lane into a video game
  25. Knit your bridge

    Photo credit: flickr user Mr. T in DC

  26. Create space for sharing compliments among friends
  27. Organize a public play day
  28. Play a massive game, like megasoccer
  29. Try out tiny game, like dum-dum
  30. Turn shopping into a game
  31. Create a playground for adults
  32. Make friends in a ball pit
  33. Create a virtual block party
  34. Turn a parking lane into a mini golf course
  35. Use stickers to brainstorm new ideas
  36. Pretend an urban space is way more wild
  37. Use your smartphone to create a scavenger hunt wherever you are
  38. Have more fun with bike paths. Can you say “Whoopdeedoo?
  39. Install playful public seating
  40. Make your sidewalk sound like the ocean (or a farm)
  41. Replace stairs with slides
  42. Experiment with shadows
  43. Stop littering with a fun trashcan
  44. Play games with found bottlecaps
  45. Transform bus stops into swingsets
  46. Imagine a more playful playground
  47. Use a public fountain as a pool
  48. Pledge to be more playful
  49. Start a DIY neighborhood summer camp
  50. Share toys at a neighborhood gathering place
  51. Play trash bin basketball
  52. Build your own cardboard arcade
  53. Reimagine bus stops
  54. Turn your neighborhood into an art project
  55. Organize a playground tour
  56. Increase access to play

    Photo credit: Paul Krueger

  57. Make your city a Playful City USA
  58. Create a neighborhood golf course with help from a smartphone
  59. Have fun with secret spaces
  60. Paint those ugly utility boxes
  61. Build a pop-up playground
  62. Cause scenes with a prank collective inspired by Improv Everywhere
  63. Add color to crosswalks
  64. Soften your sidewalk
  65. Rethink building facades
  66. Install creative bike parking
  67. Find a new use for that old phone booth
  68. What’s more fun than a colorful piazza?
  69. Paint a bridge like it is built with legos
  70. Upgrade a chain-link fence
  71. Write memories of childhood play all over your street
  72. Create a pop-up play shop
  73. Organize a street party
  74. Add some life to your parking meters
  75. Drats! We need one more idea to get to #75. Help us out by sharing your thoughts in the comments below!

That was the initial list. But then a few weeks later after lots of suggestions, CM came up with 25 more fun ideas:

25 (More) Ways to Make Your Town More Playful

  1. Add cheer to the streets with tiny notes.
  2. Host a temporary tattoo parlor.
  3. Get out on the street with a popcorn machine.  Idea from @wemakegood
  4. Three words: Cardboard Animal Picnic. Inspired by Patrick McDonnell
  5. Stop standing and start sitting with bench bombing.
  6. Install a Givebox Idea from @wanderingzito
  7. Start a bell box mural project.
  8. Conduct pointless surveys.  Idea from @uncustomaryart
  9. Put on a one man (or woman) flash mob.  Another idea from @uncustomaryart
  10. Build a treehouse for grownups.
  11. Transform a decaying building into a folding public theater.  Idea from @Kaid_at_NRDC
  12. Use scaffolding as a place to linger.
  13. Turn heartbeats into music.
  14. Create a mini golf course in an empty parking lot.
  15. Remind strangers that they are beautiful.
  16. Play around with baggage carousels.
  17. Establish Living Innovation Zones.
  18. Install temporary, lego-like bike lanes.
  19. Fill your city with friendly robotic trash cans.
  20. Bubble your city.
  21. Host a stilt walking tournament Idea from Bill “Stretch” Coleman
  22. Have a little fun with curb-side sewers.
  23. Turn your alley into a movie theater.  Idea from Debbie in Fort Collins, Colorado
  24. Plant a vacant lot with cabbage. Lots of it. Idea from Barry Thomas
  25. Host a chalk art festival.  Idea from Kelli at KickstartFarmington.org

Still hungry for inspiration? Listen to CommunityMatters’ conference call on Creating Fun Places, featuring Mike Lanza of Playborhood and Brian Corrigan of Oh Heck Yeah.

Roshan Bliss on LinkedinRoshan Bliss on Twitter
Roshan Bliss
An inclusiveness trainer and group process facilitator, Roshan Bliss serves as NCDD's Youth Engagement Coordinator and Blog Curator. Combining his belief that decisions are better when everyone is involved with his passion for empowering young people, his work focuses on increasing the involvement of youth and students in public conversations.

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We always encourage a lively exchange of ideas, whether online or off. Questions? Please feel free to contact us directly.

  1. Thanks for posting! We’d love to hear other ideas and examples for creating playful places, or making engagement more fun and playful!

  2. Roshan Bliss says:

    You’re welcome, of course! Thanks for making the list in the first place 🙂 Where should folks reading send their ideas?

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