City Swings

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I put up a two-person swing outside our apartment in Vancouver. Since then, it has transformed the social interactions of passers-by on that section of the sidewalk. In particular, it changes the way that adults behave: giving them permission to pause and play on a sidewalk that previously encouraged nothing but locomotion. Neighbours are ‘hanging’ out there, meeting and striking up conversations. Immediately after putting the swing up I discovered our neighbour Seamus on his balcony talking to a woman who had walked two blocks to take her son to the swing – he is friends with her, but hadn’t seen her in a while. Neighbours Marita and JP played on it while talking up to my wife Julie on our balcony. Couples in their 30′s run gleefully towards it shouting ‘Ohmygodthisissoooawesome!’ and ‘I want one!’, before climbing into the seat and asking to be ‘spun’ or ‘pushed’ by their grinning partners.

Challenge: what kind of playful (and safe) intervention can you install in a public space where you live that builds social trust and provides joy for adults as well as children?