Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Project Profile: The Sit Project

UPDATE 2-10-11: A person from LYNX emailed The Daily City asking for Brendan's contact information. Now LYNX and Brendan have a meeting scheduled for next Monday. 

Rollins student Brendan O'Connor is bringing attention to public transportation and the need for seating at bus stops across the city with his project called "Sit." We think it deserves some attention, so we asked him a few questions about it. If you've got a project you'd like highlighted here, or know of someone who does, email us: mark AT thedailycity DOT com.

Name of project: 
The "Sit" Project

Website if any: 
no website yet

Who's involved:
As of now its just me!

Brief description of project:
I find a chair that has been thrown to the curbside and is destined for the landfill. I take it home and fix it up. Whether that means crazy blue plaid duct tape to hold the arm rest together or just a fun paint job. Then I find a bus stop that doesn't have a seat provided and plant my chair! Lynx has a limited budget for shelters, and those random benches all around town are provided by The Jaycees for advertising revenues so my little chair project is just a grassroots way for me to give that old lady on the corner something fun to sit on. The more funky the chair the better as it catches the attention of people driving by who've learned to tune out that we have public transit here in Orlando.
Where'd you get the idea?
I got the idea one day while I was hopping on my bike to ride to Rollins. There was this woman holding tight to the Lynx bus stop sign trying not to fall down. She was clearly suffering from the heat, but had nowhere to sit. So that night I took an extra chair that I had in the garage, painted it up and left it her stop. Ever since, I haven't been able to stop! Also a number of the bus stops around town are too close to the street so there's not enough room to even put in a bench.

Have you seen anyone use the chairs?
Yes I have! Actually just today I saw that one had come undone from the fence that I'd fastened it to. On the way back home I'd planned to fix it back up but someone had already tied it back up and there was a woman sitting in it with a big smile on her face. haha I love that people take a sense of ownership to the chairs. Other people move them around, put them in safer spots, add things to them. Thats cool, its showing that people appreciate the bit of work I put in.
Whats been the response?
Haha! the response has been mixed. The very first person to give me feedback was a man in a huge pickup truck with NRA stickers all over the back. He slammed on the breaks, leaned out the window and told me to "f*** off and die" and that I was "ruining the community with that shit". I was a little shaken, and all I could muster up was to blow him a kiss and give him a little wave. But right at that moment these two crunchy granola type girls seemingly materialized out of the bushes and told me how much they loved my chairs and to ignore that guy and to "keep doing what I was doing man!"

My boyfriend used to hear the bus drivers talking about it like I was some sort of vigilante which was fun for me to hear (I love comics...) but I think what really matters is seeing somebody sitting in a chair while I drive/bike by. They're voting with their butts, and that makes me feel good!

Do you take public transportation?
Haha! My man uses the bus way more than I do. I'm a big proponent of public transportation but my bike usually gets me where I need to go. Between myself and my boyfriend we have two bikes, a scooter, and a van for the long trips.

Have other media outlets covered you?
Watermark gave me a shout out last year but really its just been The Daily City.

Are you recruiting and if so, how would you like people to contact you?
I'm not recruiting per se. I'm getting ready to wheat paste some posters I've been working on (showing how to rescue a chair, re-FAB-ilitate it, and secure it to a bus stop) around town so as to empower people to jump on the public instillation-bus with me. And I'm hoping to have a little website in a couple of months for all of my little side projects. If people want to contact me they can use campoconnor AT gmail DOT com for now.

What do you want people to get out of this project?
I want people to see that they can come up with fun solutions to problems in their environment. Theres this latin term "civitas" that creeps into my mind from time to time. It means "citizen". We all need to get off the couch and participate in the communities that we live in and by participate I don't mean write a check (haha dont stop doing that though), I mean go get your hands dirty. Spray paint some chairs and put them at bus stops, plant some native wildflowers in that vacant lot across from your house, fix that hole in the sidewalk that you trip in every day. To be honest though I'd be happy if people just smiled at something I made and then went about their day.

Whats a totally new and different project you have in the works?
I've got a couple things that I'm working on right now. I'm working on some hammock/bag designs for homeless people, a waterfront clean up of Lake Virginia with Rollins College, a Park(ing) project with Rollins for Earth Day, and a lot of craft work for the festivals coming. Also, I've got masks I've made currently on display at Drunken Monkey in The Milk District (home of The Baratelli) and Crescent's Tea Shop in St. Cloud.


mistiewatkins said...

Brendan, you are inspiring. Keep it up!

Hannah said...

I've loved these mysterious chairs for a while now. Thanks for the story behind them!

JC said...

Yes, this. More of this, please!!

Orlando needs things like this, more than you know.

Mark Baratelli said...

Agreed! Spread the story far and wide and maybe more things like this will pop up in the community.

2d12ca50-351b-11e0-bb90-000bcdcb2996 said...

I love how projects like this act as needed rain on Orlando's cultural and social growth. It makes peopl erealize that there IS more to the area than suburbs and chain stores.

Mark Baratelli said...

Its a great project from a creative mind. Hope it gets folks inspired to do some city enhancements of their own. Share this link and story!

myurbangeneration said...

There's one of these in my neighborhood and I was wondering where it came from.

Check this out! Chair Bombing. Seriously. Great minds think alike (the authors are friends of mine). http://www.grist.org/urbanism/tactical-urbanism-guide-for-guerrilla-urbanists

Although theirs is more about interim solutions than raising awareness; or a little of both.

ToNy said...

More 'Tactical Urbanism' projects we can spread around Orlando found here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/51354266/Tactical-Urbanism-Final

Book Goddess said...

I came across one of the chairs the other day and it made me smile. I think Orlando needs more projects like this. I was wondering though where other ones are located. Is there a listing or is it sort of like a scavenger hunt?

paola said...

Please bear in mind that "Sit Projects" has been active in NY since 2008. Please see below:

We salute you for taking the initiative and starting you own projects! We only ask that you please reconsider renaming your project only because we are files as a 501 c3- thank you and good luck!

Brendan said...

Hey Paola, it seems great minds think alike. I've been making chairs for just as long and I think our projects, even though the names and mission are similar, are carried out very differently. Certainly "The SIT Project" and "Sit Projects" can only benefit from continuing on their journey to bring attention to public transit issues.
We're both in it to help repair and improve our communities, not make a living off of it so lets try to keep that upfront. I won't be changing the name, and I would never think of asking you to do the same.

Anonymous said...