These benches have been popping up all over London this summer. They’re crafted as an open book and painted with scenes from a specific book. This one tells the story of Wind in the Willows and sits just across from (can you guess where?). The benches were the result of a collaborative brainwave from the National Literacy Trust and Wild in Art group to promote reading. You can actually get a map that you can do a scavenger hunt for all of them – what fun. What got me really thinking was the genius-ness of the idea. A perfect backdrop for conversation with anyone you meet along the way.
How many times have we been so engrossed in our lives or focused on our smartphones that we miss out on the beauty of the moment or the people crossing our paths? There are many competing forces at play that take time away from those opportunities to interact. Connections happen in the most unlikely of places; an acknowledgement to a fellow runner on the path, a casual chat with a neighbour about their garden, a smile to the harried cashier at the grocery store, a conversation at the farmers market about the variety of new apples popping up on shelves. Each situation offers an environment to interact much like the London book benches.
So here’s a challenge for all of us. How are you finding time to blend the ‘world of busy’ and the ‘world of the here’? How would you create the spaces in your schools, classrooms, workplaces to invite the interaction? Really interested in any ideas.