In previous blog posts, I’ve talked about the context and themes of CounterPlay Leeds and now it’s time for action!

When hosting or participating in play events, I always aim to 1) play, 2) think about play and 3) talk about play. As part of the latter, I find it important to have a conversation about the future: where do we go from here? How do we create better conditions for play and the playful society?

So many of the wonderful people in Leeds seemed really eager to explore these questions, and many good suggestions grew out of it. Actually, an entire scroll of ideas that (almost) crossed the entire room grew out of it!

Let’s look at some of them:

More CounterPlay events!

This was the first ever CounterPlay event outside Denmark, and I’m eager to support as many people as possible to build on our work and experiences from the first four festivals. There are currently something in the works in the Netherlands, Switzerland and again in the UK. This is very, very exciting, to say the least, and we’re preparing a guide to be used as inspiration, and if you’re interested in this, let us know.

Guardians of Play

This was an idea suggested by Portia Tung from School of Play: let’s be the playful, joyful, silly but earnest and dedicated Guardians of Play (like, you know, those other Guardians). It’s a nice way of framing our collective effort in a appropriately lighthearted manner, while reminding each other of the bigger picture:

We guard play to set it free and help it thrive.

First rule of Play Club

With a thinly veiled reference to another, more insidious club, one of my new playful friends, Jim Thompson, suggested this wonderful rule for our play community: talk about it everywhere, to anyone, as much as possible.

Talk is cheap” some say, but I say we need more of it. We need to tell stories about play and to develop a stronger, more nuanced language that more properly can capture the elusiveness of play. If we truly want to invite more people into our play community and to make society as a whole more playful, we need these stories and we need increased visibility.

Let’s meetup and talk more frequently; let’s write blog posts, articles and books; let’s host online conversations, seminars and courses; let’s make YouTube channels and videos; let’s get out into the streets and play.

In short, let’s make sure everyone knows play is a fully legitimate thing to engage in.

A hub for conversations

While many of us manage to stay in touch across borders using social media, we still need better ways of maintaining our connections and conversations. I actually think we may need something as old-school as an online forum. Yes, we have Twitter and Facebook and all that, but maybe we should have a thing that is our own? Where we can talk about everything and where conversations can unfold over time?

We’re currently looking into the forum service “Discourse” with the tagline “Civilized Discussion”. We could certainly use more of that, right? Any such forum will be open and free for anyone to use, but should also be properly moderated to ensure it remains friendly and welcoming.

If you have any experience with building forums, we’d love to hear from you. None of us are experts here.

The Chalk Brigade

I *love* chalk!

Making the “play-laws” in Leeds (read about it here) again reminded me how powerful this cheap, simple tool actually is. With a single piece of chalk you can become a rebel, challenging the ownership of public space and inviting play on the streets.

We talked about making “mission cards” for a playful “chalk brigade”, print the cards, stick a piece of chalk to each card and distribute them as far and wide as we can.

A Play Toolkit

In the conversation ensuing CounterPlay Leeds, Lynn Parker came upon the idea of a shared “Play Toolkit” and started unpacking the idea here. We think of it as an open-source project that can hopefully lead to both a set of instructions/principles and an actual, physical box. Stay tuned!


Finally, we invented the hashtag #OnePlayThing to remind each other and everyone else how it’s often the small things, the small acts of play, that make a difference. If you wish to join, just share a photo, video or description of “one play thing”, one way of playing, on social media and tag it #OnePlayThing.

If you were among the participants, help me out: what am I forgetting? If you were not, which actions do you think we should take to make society more playful?

The following two tabs change content below.

Mathias Poulsen

I think a playful mindset is essential for us to live better lives together. I organise the CounterPlay Festival to cultivate a #playfulsociety.

Latest posts by Mathias Poulsen (see all)