Can Public Benches Make Our Communities Friendlier?

Borrowing a cup of sugar, coffee klatches, block parties, stoop parties…are the days of neighborly camaraderie a thing of the past?

I have a question for you? Do you think park benches make neighborhoods and neighbors more friendly?

According to a 2015 analysis with data from General Social Study, only 20% of Canadians regularly spend time with their neighbors. 

Do you think that if we placed a park bench in front of our home or business that it would create a community hub? Like, open bench air cafés.

The idea behind the benches is simple: that wine or coffee tastings, a small magic show or the like will bring neighbors together, facilitating more friendly exchanges or even cultural dialogues. In fact, in Amsterdam one bench named after former Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, is designated for just for the latter. Another bench is designed as a meeting place for refugees and older citizens, while yet another bench is meant for exchanges on city beautification. 

A similar practice  this one reclaiming city parking spots for parklets has taken hold in some cities. Parklets aim to encourage pedestrian activity by introducing “new streetscape features such as seating, planting, bicycle parking, or elements of play.

Do these endeavors really facilitate more neighborly interaction or more dialogue? 

What do you think, does turning the bench outside your home or business into a mini community hub sound like a good idea?

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