In cities burdened with poverty and unrest, or even war, it’s easy to dismiss urban amenities like benches and smooth sidewalks as luxuries that can come only after other, more urgent problems. But as this recent NYT’s article shows, subtle changes to the streets of Amman, Jordan are turning passages into places where diverse groups of people are coming together, perhaps for the first time. More than mere adornment, benches are actually hosting new connections and fostering a shared sense of belonging. Women and girls, too, say that these changes make them feel more comfortable hanging out; suggesting that even street-level adjustments have the potential to neutralize gendered space and create the conditions for social change.

Can Sidewalks and Benches Spur Social Change? was last modified: March 6th, 2012 by Megan MacIver