Ryan Swanson is a creator, place maker, and founder / CEO of the award-winning design firm The Urban Conga. The firm is focused on promoting community activity and social interaction through play. They achieve this by creating interactive installations and environments that spark creativity, exploration and free-choice learning. Ryan first started The Urban Conga concept two other colleagues during his thesis in architecture. The idea was created as a way to activate underutilized spaces within their city of Tampa, FL. While hosting a pop-up event in an abandoned lot, Ryan came across a moment that defined where he wanted to take this place making concept. A homeless man walked up to him and his colleagues and asked for money, but being broke college graduates they explained that they had no money but he could join everyone and play with their installations. The homeless man slowly worked his way over to a middle-class family playing with one of the several installations provided, a giant 12’ beach ball. Almost instantly, barriers began to break down as the family tossed the ball over to him. He instantly tossed it back with a huge smile on his face. At that moment, it didn’t matter what their social or economic backgrounds were, they just became people playing in a once abandoned lot in the middle of the city. It was this moment that caused Ryan to realize the importance of play in not only in our daily lives, but in the infrastructure of our cities and communities. He quit his job the next week at a local architecture firm and officially created The Urban Conga to begin create innovative ways to implement play everywhere.