Social Exchange: Much More Than Idle Chit-Chat
How can a community encourage more conversation?
The goal of increasing social exchange, planned and spontaneous, in our public spaces is a bedrock feeding the insight behind this blog. Our public spaces are the impetuous for connecting individuals and building community, which in turn drives community resiliency. We could be doing a lot more in creating spaces that foster this activity in our commons.
The project “I Just Wanted To Say” is attempting to do that by creating priority seating for conversationalist. The project shows how far a small amount of investment and a creative idea can be used to highlight and encourage social exchange.
As the concept is introduced on its website:
“On public transport, typical signs designate “priority seating for the disabled” to help create a culture of courtesy. Similarly, for this project, signs designating “priority seating for people who want conversation” seeks to help create a culture of friendliness. Conversations in public spaces present endless possibilities to build connections, create community, and just make someone’s day a bit more interesting.”
It’s more than friendliness that is being promoted. It’s community. It’s the spreading of ideas. It’s innovation. In fact, it’s an economic development tool. High levels of social exchange are why innovations tend to originate out of our great cities. Here in northern Michigan, where density will never be great and many people live here precisely so they DON’T have to talk to anyone, we need to be that much more creative in our public spaces to foster those exchanges. Fortunately, we need not invent the wheel. We can learn from projects like this that already are happening in other communities.
Where do you see a place for a Conversation Priority designation? You can tell us here, but you can also download your sign and place it where you may. (Then let us know where you put it…send a photo.)