Ever since the BenchesCollective started back in 2014, it has been transforming doorsteps all over the place into hotspots for communities to meet and interact. Most of these sidewalk-located, open-air cafés have been located in the Netherlands, and the motivation for now is to take it worldwide. So wherever you are located, put something in front of your house and meet your community, one bench at a time!
The concept of BenchesCollective is simple but powerful. You transform your doorstep into a place where anything can happen! You can offer food and/or drinks, or organize activities such as, salsa classes, knitting workshops, and (clothing) swap sessions. The motivation behind the initiative is the fact that simple interaction on the streets is becoming less and less common. Over 3.000 people have already joined and opened up their doorsteps for their community, with almost 1.500 ‘opened’ benches in 23 countries bringing more than 25.000 people together. Already a beloved event in our hometown, Amsterdam, benches were also opened in cities including Ubatuba, Johannesburg, New York, Taipei, Stockholm, Poznan, Marseille, Brussels and Berlin. And these place are coming up: Quito, Kampala, Brussels, Adelaide, Wrocław and Medellín.
There is no denying that we are living through times when the world could use some extra love and friendliness. Now it is time for you to join the movement! BenchesCollective is calling upon urban pioneers all over the globe to ‘open up’ a bench on their doorstep on 1 October 2017, for a very special global edition of the world’s largest open-air café.
How does it work?
1. Come up with a nice spot on your sidewalk, street, or in a (nearby) park.
2. Think of what you’d like to serve: coffee and cookies, homemade pizza with local beers or an activity like salsa dancing, swapping clothes or a cycling race! Anything goes, as long as you like doing it.
4. Want to use your open bench to kickstart the movement in your country, city or neighborhood? You can organize several local events. In the ambassadors group on Facebook, you can find tips and updates.
It’s easier than ever to stay within your comfortable bubble of friends and family. But where do you meet the people who are a bit different from you, who will inspire you and broaden your horizon? Create the opportunity to meet people that have a different outlook on life, but live on the same street or in the same city as you. By adding a meeting place in public space, you can meet everybody; from students and young families to gossipy grandmas and neighborhood kids. In a poll conducted with BenchesCollective participants earlier this year, ‘bench hosts’ mentioned they got to know their neighbors better and have built their local and even professional network, 52% have remained in contact with their neighbors since opening a bench and 60% of visitors say they’ve met people with a different background or outlook on life.
“A bench on the sidewalk makes up a perfect setting for spontaneous conversations with neighbors. It will make you feel way more connected to your neighborhood which is a beautiful thing”, BenchesCollective founder Jesse Jorg explains.