GOOD

What Would You Share if You Found a Diary Tied to a Park Bench?

If you happened upon a diary tied to a bench with an invitation to write anything and the understanding that anyone can read your anonymous entry, what would you write?

If you happened upon a diary tied to a bench with an invitation to write anything and the understanding that anyone can read your anonymous entry, what would you write?


On a hot June day in Atlanta, GA, I decided to find out by tying four pink diaries to benches around the city and inviting my neighbors to write in them. Since that day, I have collected over 90 entries written on a wide range of subjects by people of all ages. I call the project Bench Diary.

When I was in high school, I found my fourth grade journal buried amongst other childhood memorabilia. The journal provided my friends and me with endless entertainment and sparked my fascination with diaries. I love the fearlessness and honesty that pours out of us when we write in diaries. I hope to inspire that fearlessness in people who write Bench Diary entries and in people who read those entries.

Much to my delight, all four diaries I put out the first day contained wonderful entries. One person told a story of resorting to stripping for money, while a couple wrote an Exquisite Corpse-style poem about sitting in the park. I was totally hooked after that first day and wanted to learn much more about my neighbors.

On Bench Diary days, I set out in the morning with several diaries, a ball of string, scissors, pens and my phone so I can share each diary’s location on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Returning in the evening to retrieve each diary is a thrill, as I never know what to expect. The diary could be missing, or someone could be in the process of writing when I arrive. The diary could even be urinated on, as was the case with a diary I tied to a picnic table at a skate park. That certainly did not stop me from picking it up by a dry corner and tossing it in my trunk.

The most common type of entry so far has been one sharing advice or wisdom.

People often write about the specific place or time.

Or they share a story.

Here is a story from the urine-soaked diary.

Though Bench Diary is anonymous, I do ask people to share their age. This entry was written by a 92-year-old.

Entries from children are my favorite entries to read.

I have been blown away by what my neighbors have chosen to share with complete strangers, and I cannot help but wonder what people in other cities and countries have to share. Eventually, I hope to establish a network of people all over the world who want to participate in the project by putting out Bench Diaries in their cities and submitting the entries they collect. We could build an amazing collection of entries spanning time, geography, culture and language.

If you are interested in getting involved with the project by putting out Bench Diaries in your city, send me an email at benchdiary@gmail.com. You can also get involved by following the project at benchdiary.com and on Instagram and Twitter by following @benchdiary and by liking Bench Diary on Facebook.

Check out my PechaKucha presentation on Bench Diary too.

Articles
via WFMZ / YouTube

John Perez was acquitted on Friday, February 21, for charges stemming from an altercation with Allentown, Pennsylvania police that was caught on video.

Footage from September 2018 shows an officer pushing Perez to the ground. After Perez got to his feet, multiple officers kicked and punched him in an attempt to get him back on the ground.

Perez claims he was responding to insults hurled at him by the officers. The police say that Perez was picking a fight. The altercation left Perez with a broken nose, scrapes, swelling, and bruises from his hips to his shoulder.

Keep Reading
Communities
via Affinity Magazine / Twitter

Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein has been found guilty of rape in the third degree and criminal sexual acts in the first degree in New York City.

The jury was unanimous in its convictions as well as two not-guilty verdicts on predatory sexual assault charges involving actress Annabella Sciorra.

The Miramax co-founder may spend the rest of his natural life behind bars.

Keep Reading
Culture
via Wallace and Gromit

Most of the animation you see these days is done by computers. It seems that we see fewer and fewer films made with stop-motion animation, a time-consuming art where objects are manipulated and photographed 24 times per second to create the illusion of motion.

Keep Reading
Culture