Fostering conversation among strangers by installing Charlotte's signature porch swings in public spaces.
Before the advent of air conditioning, the southern home was not complete without a front porch. Neighbors could easily communicate and, from porch to porch, build community. This project installs porch swings as amenities to bring together Charlotte's millennial and immigrant communities and commercial centers at or near school bus stops and bus transit stops on Central Avenue. Porch swings installed along Central Avenue will create a unifying element, making the sidewalk and bus stops a new civic front porch.
The Central Avenue corridor was chosen for this project due to it being one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the City of Charlotte. The CATS Number 9 Bus serving this corridor has one of the highest riderships of any Charlotte line. The porch swing project will begin at the Plaza Midwood Business District, a vibrant area serving a diverse set of young creative class singles and families. It will continue out Charlotte's east side, one of North Carolina's most diverse communities with immigrants and houses of faith from Central and South America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Placing swings in these areas would use the South's unique front porch swings to welcome and unite these diverse communities.
While new light rail lines often provide comfortable waiting areas filled with art, bus riders aren't usually treated with the same amenities. By reenergizing and activating public space such as bus stops with swings, we can create places where people enjoy waiting and new opportunities for community interaction. We can move bus stops from lonely places to "porches" where interaction is encouraged and celebrated.
Project Update - October 2015
A prototype of the porch swing was installed as part of the Neighborhood Living Room project in South End (also funded by the Knight Foundation) over the Oct 15-18 weekend. The Living Room project temporarily transformed a parking lot into a public space where people were able to gather and connect, with live entertainment, board games, food, coffee, yoga, books and, most importantly, make new friends and build a stronger community. The swing at the event was a prototype to test a portable swing installation for the Public Swing project. Thanks to everyone that came out and tried out the swing!
Testing the swing prototype at the Neighborhood Living Room
Project Update - February 2016
Five proposed swing locations have been identified along Central Avenue and in the Plaza Midwood business district. These locations were selected based on CATS bus ridership numbers, topography for ease of construction, existing amenities such as green space and trees, and institutional ownership that can provide oversight and the required minimal maintenance. The swings have been fabricated by a local small business (Tucker Ornamental & Iron located in Rock Hill, SC) and will be installed later this spring. The swing design includes mounting rods (instead of chain link hangers) to eliminate possible pinch-points, and a decorative frame from which the swings will be hung. More information on the swing locations can be found here.