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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.
A little girl expresses her joy at the beauty of springtime in Kent in 1946.
It’s this kind of play that Dr. Stuart Brown, director of the National Institute of Play says teaches empathy, trust, irony, and problem solving.
(Photo by George Konig/Keystone Features/Getty Images)
A little girl expresses her joy at the beauty of springtime in Kent in 1946.
It’s this kind of play that Dr. Stuart Brown, director of the National Institute of Play says teaches empathy, trust, irony, and problem solving.
(Photo by George Konig/Keystone Features/Getty Images)

A little girl expresses her joy at the beauty of springtime in Kent in 1946.

It’s this kind of play that Dr. Stuart Brown, director of the National Institute of Play says teaches empathy, trust, irony, and problem solving.

(Photo by George Konig/Keystone Features/Getty Images)

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If one were to get a replay of Michael Jordan in one of the final games of NBA championship and see him zoning down the floor doing some moves he’s never done before and tossing the ball up for a basket, I doubt if, at that time, he is really conscious that the buzzer’s about to go or that — I think he’s outside of time. And I can certainly give you from my own life recollections of that sensation. Just, say last week, I was I in a nice musical concert that was being held in Monterey and, you know, I got lost in the music and had the feeling of, you know, sort of an oceanic feeling of not being there. And it wasn’t something I expected to happen. But it was pleasurable. Watching a grandson of mine on the floor with his stuffed animal talking to it, timeless. And it’s different for, for lots of us.

— Stuart Brown, director of the National Institute of Play, from his 2007 interview, "Play, Spirit, and Character."

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Taking Play Seriously

Trent Gilliss, Online Editor

Our program on the spirit of play continues to garner attention. This time Krista’s appearance at the New York Public Library with Stuart Brown is the entry point for Robin Marantz Henig’s long-form piece in this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine.

The program’s trajectory has been a curious one, with a long tail no doubt. I watched the PUSH participants gasp in awe when Stuart Brown showed images of a polar bear and tethered sled dog frolick in the Canadian tundra. The collective sigh amounted to more than an “oh, isn’t that cute” sentiment.

I suggested the topic and Stuart Brown as a potential guest. To my surprise, Krista liked the idea. The idea of play didn’t explicity touch on religion or spirituality, but its implications spoke to the humanity of our nature, as children and now as adults.

We received a healthy number of comments after the radio broadcast/podcast release. And, more unexpectedly, the companion narrated slideshow of animals at play was so successful that it crashed APM’s Web servers. It’s been viewed by more than 2 million people - getting picked up by social recommendation engines such as Digg and by newspaper blogs in Boston and Seattle.

For me, this program is a reminder that one obligation of journalists is to be proxy agents for the public, to stand in and report on events you aren’t able to attend and tell stories that are relevant to your lives. I think we exemplified this, and have inspired other journalists to do so as well.

(photo: Tom Schierlitz for The New York Times)

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