2012 Spirit & Place Festival Theme – PLAY
By Pam Blevins Hinkle, Director, Spirit & Place Festival
The truly great advances of this generation will be made by those who can make outrageous connections, and only a mind which knows how to play can do that.
– Nagle Jackson, playwright and director
Human beings are born to play. Through play, we exercise the mind, the body, and the spirit. We play to relax and to escape. We play to energize and to connect. We play to forget and to remember. We play to express the sacred and the profane. We play to celebrate and to laugh.
When we play, we explore, discover, and question the world around us. Through play we develop the skills and characteristics we need to live in community with one another: problem-solving, imagination, resilience, risk-taking, trust, cooperation, and more. And without play our communities are uninspired, fractured, and joyless.
Despite its paramount importance, play is in peril. Americans are working longer hours than they did 25 years ago, and many adults lost the play instinct somewhere between childhood and adulthood. Children have more societal permission to play, but even this freedom is at risk as curriculum standards are squeezing school recess. Other factors—less access to playgrounds and parks, more access to multimedia games, the rise of structured play over free play, the legacy of a Puritan work ethic, and admonitions about “idle hands”—diminish the value of play and rob us of its benefits. There is a play deficit in America and it is having a detrimental impact on our society.
This year’s Spirit & Place Festival will examine how play contributes to our physical, emotional, social, and community well-being. We’ll explore some opportunities and/or challenges that our community faces in regards to play, we’ll learn what humanities, arts, and/or religion tell us about the cultural perceptions and challenges of the play. We’ll gain an understanding of how art forms like films, visual art, music, dance, theatre, etc. illuminate our perceptions about play, and together we will identify how play can bring fresh interpretations and solutions to the challenges that confront us.
From community-wide competitions and music improvisation to gaming and playground design, we’re getting ready to present to you “never-seen-before” events that are sure to offer breath-taking creativity and offer a platform to find new connections and new directions. So get ready to witness oodles of energy and fun as we begin our explorations with Play.