Saturday, November 08, 2008

stick to it

This was in the news page that SBCglobal/yahoo displayed when I logged on this morning.

Toy Hall of Fame points to new addition: the stick

I copied the text to my blog, but if you want to see it, the address is:

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – A magic wand, a fishing rod or a royal scepter?

The lowly stick, a universal plaything powered by a child's imagination, landed in the National Toy Hall of Fame on Thursday along with the Baby Doll and the skateboard.

The three were chosen to join the Strong National Museum of Play's lineup of 38 classics ranging from the bicycle, the kite and Mr. Potato Head to Crayola crayons, marbles and the Atari 2600 video game system.

Curators said the stick was a special addition in the spirit of a 2005 inductee, the cardboard box. They praised its all-purpose, no-cost, recreational qualities, noting its ability to serve either as raw material or an appendage transformed in myriad ways by a child's creativity.

"It's very open-ended, all-natural, the perfect price — there aren't any rules or instructions for its use," said Christopher Bensch, the museum's curator of collections. "It can be a Wild West horse, a medieval knight's sword, a boat on a stream or a slingshot with a rubber band. ... No snowman is complete without a couple of stick arms, and every campfire needs a stick for toasting marshmallows.

"This toy is so fantastic that it's not just for humans anymore. You can find otters, chimps and dogs — especially dogs — playing with it."

Longevity is a key criterion for getting into the hall, which the museum acquired in 2002 from A.C. Gilbert's Discovery Village in Salem, Ore. Each toy must not only be widely recognized and foster learning, creativity or discovery through play, but also endure in popularity over generations.

There are 4 additional paragraphs about dolls and skateboards.

I thought this was especially interesting, since Joseph has played with sticks so much. This hasn't been one of my parenting moves that has seen much approval by my peers. Sticks are dirty, dangerous, and do nothing to promote teamwork and sportsmanlike conduct. Not like Little League or soccer. I have talked to parents who are careful to limit their child's "unstructured activity" as much as possible. I remember the times I spent 'walking around poking stuff with a stick.' I don't think it was wasted time.

Of course, there ought to be a mix.

Here in Silicon Valley, as I'm sure in many other places, there is social value in looking affluent. Sticks don't really fit. Everything is new and shiny.

Personally, I think we are on the edge of some big changes. Environmental issues are making us look closer. Recycling was the main thing for a long time. Now we are looking at the cost of recycling. What is the impact of the recycling process? What are the resources needed for the transport and processing of the stuff before it is reduced to raw material again?

There are new terms and concepts coming into use. Re-use is not the same as re-cycle. It means to re-use without transport and processing back to raw materials.

An example from my life-- Janow, the horse with hay fever, gets anti-histamine medication every evening. I have two friends who help me out by giving it to him. I mix it with bran and alfalfa pellets in a plastic bag, one bag each day. They are doing me a huge favor, the bags make it easy for them. The bags are all re-used. They have been used as bags before. They have contained hamburger buns, Halloween candy, broccoli, the San Jose Mercury News on a rainy day......

Up-Cycle is another new one. Here, you take something that is one thing, and make it into another without taking it to the recycling center to be reduced to raw materials again. Historically, quilts are up-cycled. Now, however, they usually aren't. Quilters buy new fabric to coordinate better. But if you use the fabric from old and outgrown clothing, your quilt is up-cycled.

If you buy clothing at an outlet like Ross Dress for Less, or Marshall's, with the intent of using it for fabric, it is up-cycled. You can often get better quality fabric for a lower price if you shop this way. Often, the buttons of one garment would cost more than the whole garment if you bought them 'new' at the fabric store. If the dress has never been worn, the buttons are still new.

So, back the The Stick. Free, up-cycled and it comes in environmentally friendly packaging. I thought I was behind the times, but I was ahead of them.


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I love that pics of Janow peeking out of the stall.
And your shirt design is cleverly done.

Interesting how the terminology over the years changes isn't it?

Thankfully my parents gave me hours of unstructured playtime and exploration. I would hike through the woods with my dog every chance I got, and when we went camping, my parents would just set me free and I'd be gone for hours exploring the woods.

Things are a little less safe now, and I wish I could set my kids free as much as I was. It has made me much more independant, curious, full of wonder, and better able to amuse myself.


Melanie said...

Great post! I heard about this on the radio the other day. Cardboard boxes? My kids have had hours of enjoyment from just!!!

Both of my kidlets regularly play with sticks, and rocks, and dirt, get the idea!

Sometimes, what may seem like modern advancements, are really just setbacks, aren't they?

Poor Janow! My friend's horse has to take antihistamines too. He is allergic to those little, biting, flies/gnats.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

I love that photo of Janow. He has such cute little ears!

Boxes make great play toys for kids and cats too!