Outside the apartment building, next to the gas station, are two lines of park benches along the sidewalk facing each other at a respectable distance. Sitting here I watch people and dogs of all ages and sizes gather in the late afternoon. An elderly man leans over chatting with a young child. Three women across from me are laughing, with animated hand gestures choreographing their conversation in the space around them. To my right, a teenage girl sits in peaceful silence next to her grandmother who is in a wheelchair. This small hub of ordinary human life is not a big deal to my friends here in Rome. But to me, it is extraordinary. I imagine what it would be like to put a couple of park benches out on the sidewalk outside my condo here in Burnaby. And to set aside time every afternoon just to sit there and greet the people who wander by on their way to and from work.
For now, we’ll have to create other kinds of opportunities, make the time and bring invisible benches together in some way. There are green zones throughout our city in parks and other environmental projects. Let’s create social green zones too. Today, find a few extra minutes to simply look around and connect with the people around us. For no good reason — this is the best of reasons.
Also… if you’d like to hear a podcast about our Green Light Conversation project, please visit