As a follow up to previous posts, here's what I did this weekend with my wonderful neighbours.

Do it yourself - it's easy!

1. Identify a place where people clearly want to hang out, but that's missing some hospitality. My partner, Ryan, said to me two weeks ago at the farmer's market - "You should chair bomb this place." Indeed. I took some "Before" pictures on my phone and the ball was rolling. To be clear, I'm not actually sure who owns this property but they have tolerated people hanging out there forever and if they don't like the logs, we'll move them.

2. Think about how you could make it more inviting. In our case, we had a hard time coming up with seating on short notice that wasn't either expensive, wasteful, or ugly. Campfire logs popped up as an idea. Ryan happened to know of a local tree service that would give away a few logs that were destined for the chipper. I called them up and we were in luck. The next day, a red maple was coming down a few blocks over.

3. Call up your friend with a truck.

4. Make your seating look good! I'm a fan of stencils for big projects like this because they are fairly fast and the results are sharp and uniform. We applied a white base coat the day before stencilling and a quick hydrophobic spray on the top after they were done (although I'm skeptical that it worked - wouldn't recommend).

6. Install your seating whenever it feels right to you. We wanted ours to be a surprise for the market on Saturday morning so we waited until Friday night for the drop-off.

7. You might consider making a sign inviting people to sit down. They may not realize your installation is for the public.

8. Enjoy your handiwork!


GRACEN JOHNSON works as an urban strategist and communications professional  in The Maritimes. Despite finishing her MPhil in Planning, Growth, and Regeneration in 2013, she has never stopped studying the city. Gracen thinks of her day-to-day as participatory action research, diving into the question of how Strong Citizenship can transform a city. She wears many hats exploring that herself, including as the creator and coordinator of an accelerator for small businesses that build community. She also freelances around the vision of "Projects for Places we Love" and has a video blog calledAnother Place for Me.

This year, Gracen is sharing field notes on her experiences with Strong Citizenship. In this regular column, you'll get snapshots of life as a friendly neighbour in a quintessential Little City that feels like a Big Town.