I just wanted to say….

Public transport is not only better environmentally, but is a critically under-used social space when you consider 5.7 million people are catching the bus in a month (Brisbane Times, 21.7. 2009).   That’s a lot of people you could meet and we don’t meet people commuting in cars.

Friendly interaction in public spaces make for friendly cities, and a friendly self.

How can this be encouraged more?  Friendliness comes from talking. In life, we start and maintain our relationships through talking and sharing our feelings and stories.

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. Through the website participants can map conversations, and put up their own signage to shed light on where the community would like to have conversation priority seating in the future

We often overheard great, silly or memorable conversations on transit, of people who have run into to each other, people commuting together, strangers talking to each other.    But you will also observe people lost in the world of ipods, staring blankly out of windows, and no interaction.  It’s also OK not to talk too.

But why don’t people talk on buses more?

Why don’t people talk?

Why don’t people talk at any time in their lives, such as in relationships, at work and at home?  I never really talked to people before and I realised that like in life, at the bus stop most people don’t talk because we are afraid to talk to others. Afraid to say the thing they really wanted to say for fear of the reactions or judgments we might get.  But more often than not this fear is unfounded and that most people will have a polite chat if someone starts a conversation.

In life, not saying what you wanted to say is a missed opportunity to connect with someone else.  It creates a world of regrets and a world of “I just wanted to say…” in a negative, resigned tone.

I just wanted to say hello  (….but I didn’t)

I just wanted to say nice shirt  (….but I didn’t)

I just wanted to say I love you  (….but I didn’t)

If we all just said what we wanted, we open up the possibility of a friendly city where we can connect and share with ourselves, skills, ideas and with other person.

At a bus stop even if it’s not a deep conversation, a mere hello to a stranger, it is still an interaction that influences that person, the next person they meet, and the next person.  Ever noticed how a friendly bus driver can change the demeanor of a whole bus?  Friendliness is contagious.

Saying what we want to say creates a world of possibility and world of ‘I just wanted to say…” becomes a positive, empowered tone.

I just wanted to say hello!

I just wanted to say nice shirt!

I just wanted to say I love you.

More about concept development, talking and public transit is on the blog

The complete work is a system of 3 main components
1) RBH Panels (commissioned art)
2) Signage Templates and Conversation Starters
3) Community mapping and web components


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