Jenn Sander – On Play

The message is clear: I must play more.

Time and time again, I am reminded that I am far to serious and it’s true. My life needs more playfulness.

There is an innocence that comes through in genuine play. Five year olds don’t care about your job title. They are immersed in the creative potential of the moment, be it finger painting or fantasy lego block adventures. With no agenda or fear of judgement, a child’s creativity knows no bounds.

Play in adult life can be a source of tremendous insight and inspiration. Yet, playing can seem like such a childish preoccupation. Who has time for play in a world filled with cellphones, meetings, and email?

I recently spoke with Jenn Sander who’s passion lies at the intersection of play and creativity. Jenn is a year-round staff member at Burning Man, advising on Global Initiatives and Innovation. She also consults on civic engagement and urban development with Re:Imagine Group, an urban prototyping lab based in San Francisco. Additionally, she is the Founder of an Urban Experience Design Studio called Play Atelier, based in Vancouver and NYC.

We talk about the power of doing things for no reason, losing track of time, and letting yourself get silly without fear of judgement. Jenn shares her philosophy on play, prototyping, and bringing adults together in fun, simple, and human ways.

“Trying to be innovative and shooting ahead can inhibit true innovative potential because you need to actually create an opportunity for people to see each other and invest in themselves via investing in each other in a much more human and simplistic way for these very diverse and mixed industry perspectives to percolate together. That’s what children do, combining different ideas until they develop a sort of clear cut perception of the world. As adults we just live in that perception and continually try to innovate within it versus exploring what a different version of society can be.”

The unfortunate tragedy is that, at times, I feel I have almost forgotten how to play. This conversation reminded me that play is at the very heart of creative endeavor.

Please enjoy.

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