Friday, June 28, 2013

Come to my Party

Invitations can be exciting. As a child, the excitement of receiving a birthday party invitation was unsurpassed. As adults we become more wary of invitations. "You are a part of an exclusive group to receive this special invitation.." begins a commercial pitch that comes in the mail. Invitations to fundraisers, no matter how worthy, may be less than welcome when money and/or time is in short supply.

How can we bring the excitement of a genuine invitation to the promoting Columbia's tot lots, pathways, and open space? No matter how much you believe that everyone already knows, or that they "should know"' the truth is, many don't.
Some may know but are just in a rut. They may look at these things and just see "same old, same old." They may need help seeing old things in a new way.

I used a photograph yesterday which combined signage with QR codes and an invitation to interact through FourSquare. How would the use of something like this lend some interest? I can see how it might add an element of gamification to the use and exploration of tot lots. It might also give some useful feedback on which spaces are the most used, and whether a program such as this influences greater use or exploration.

A less high-tech way to invite people in is the StoryWalk program. Take a look here:
And here:  I can see this as a partnership between CA, individual Villages, the Howard County Library System, and the Howard County Schools. Basically, the Storywalk is designed to encourage parents to take a walk with their child, while reading pages of a storybook posted at intervals along the way. What a great invitation to walk down a path, enjoy nature, find out what happens next in the story and --ooh--a tot lot!

Maybe tot lots, pathways, and open spaces need their own fan clubs in each village. We hold concerts and festivals in our Village Centers. We have annual pool parties, often rotating each year from one village pool to the next. If our outdoor spaces had annual events, or ongoing programs, it would be one more way to invite and engage residents to enjoy this wonderful amenity.

I'm inviting you to share your ideas with me in the comments, and over at Inspire Columbia. No salesman will call, and there is no obligation to buy.


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