2024 has officially begun! Many people are on the search for ways they can take action towards making our society, city and planet more sustainable and inclusive, where can you do this?
It’s a Monday morning, it’s 8:50, you get off the bus. Thirty seconds later you pass a crossing. Another 15 you reach the stairs up to higher ground. 20 seconds and you say hello to the jaga, like you always do. 10 seconds and the buildings in sight, a few later and you reach the door. Different birds chirp, colours of the sky may vary but over all, same morning like usual.
The morning passes and it's noon, time for lunch. You walk outside and prepare your lunch routine. 10 seconds out the door and you notice something different. Squares. Many squares, arranged on the floor. One square, one square, two squares… one.. two.. two…one. Hopscotch. As the zoning regulation requires, you proceed to abide by its laws and hop, hop, double step, hop. Glancing up, you see a colleague smiling. You smile back.
As the chalk and ground authority intended, you participated in active transport via an increase in heart rate and step count. You completed the well being activity, improving your state measurably from baseline and made a positive social connection. Most importantly, you were given permission. Permission to have a moment of happiness; nostalgic, free, happiness.
Now most if not all of us, get into routines, set ourselves on autopilot, unintentionally, automating the way we act, and even the way we think. In order to change or nudge our behaviours. How can we tweak the urban spaces around us, to shift how we behave, act and treat each other? Most of us understand land zoning, for industrial, commercial, residential purposes. For transport, for parks and for ports.
How can we encourage certain behaviours, break routines and tired habits and “give permission to people” to do the happy things we all used to do at one point, but grew out of due to social norms and conditioning. Is it as simple as drawing a box on the ground and saying in this space you must think of your favourite memory? How can we zone areas for happiness, for kindness, for nurturing our environment, our community. Just as humble hopscotch gives us permission to be active, connected and happy.
This idea is not new, many of us participated or act as the zoning authority as children. There also has been interesting iterations of this idea around the world such a cheeky zebra crossing sign in Øslo and also the Ministry of Silly Walks in UK inspired by Monty Python.
Zoning for awareness, capacity building and community bridging
We at City Sprouts are cultivating spaces that encourage you to become change agents to make our city more sustainable and inclusive.
Become a farmer through our open garden sessions or various workshops or an engineer or carpenter through the DIY Handyman and Repair Kopitiam sessions so you can help build and fix things for you and other people.
Become an agent for social change by volunteering with us or bringing an idea to solve a community challenge at our open mic night.
Join us to be park rangers, learning and practising to be better caretakers of the plants and animals around us.
You can even just be you, have a walk around and have a break from city life.
How will you create a space for change?
Write in to us, let us know what comes to mind when you think of zoning a space. What would you suggest people do and what thoughts do you want to induce? Could you help heal another person just for a moment, using marks on the ground?
If you would like to play with this idea more, come down to our urban farm at City Sprouts Henderson. Pick a colour and hop skip and chalk your way towards a smile, and to becoming a change agent of society.
Entry is free and open to all! Learn more about our City Sprouts spaces and find one that is close to you! Join us on this green adventure, hope to see you soon!
Come join a Farmers Market where we have activities like “Happy Zoning” and local craft, food and artisan vendors.
Check out our upcoming events and markets here!