Beautify Bus Stops

Hammock Coffee Table in the City from Distortion Productions on Vimeo.

My pal Alissa wrote, “What Happens When You Put a Coffee Table at a Bus Stop?” for Good, a thoughtful piece exploring how strangers interact with a nice environment at a mundane bus stop. As a one car family with a daily bus rider in our household, the article inspired me to think more about our boring old public transit spaces.

Placing a coffee table, newspaper and flowers at a bus stop in Koreatown, designer Julie Kim filmed passerbys and bus patrons interact with her decorative installation. The result? A 1.5-minute video that made me smile for much longer than 1.5 minutes. The young girls seen sitting at the table are really enjoying the set up and the sideways glances from everyone else appear more curious than critical.

I am not aware of  any initiatives to make these public spaces nicer (and my friends actually work for the MTA in the arts department). In a city as big as Los Angeles, it’s easy to forget about these services, spaces, and their patrons. Kim conceived the experimental project while pondering Los Angeles’ less glamorous, but highly trafficked surroundings. And she did something about it.

About a decade ago, I helped plant guerrilla gardens throughout downtown Los Angeles. More recently, I purchased seed bombs and lobbed them into boarded-up sites. What simple things can we do to beautify bus stops? Could we hang art (would it get stolen)? What about designing permanent coffee tables or something similar around town? Are there any biodegradable furniture companies out there who want to help?

Do you use public transportation where you live? Whether or not if you do, have you any ideas to share? What could we do as a community to make our boring bus stops more beautiful?! I’d love to hear your thoughts!