21 Nov Public Benches of Ashland: #1 photo essay about the humble bench
Benches can be beautiful, comfortable,
Artistic, Unusual and Fun.
Benches help build community.
Here is the first of four photo essays about some great places to rest for a bit during your walks through Ashland.
- I believe benches are important for the livability of a town. Therefore, in addition to this photo essay about “Public benches of Ashland,” I will bring you photo essays about the following:
- Benches in Ashland parks and Home Owner Association common spaces.
- Benches at Ashland schools, including Southern Oregon University.
- What I call semi-private benches located in front yards, near a sidewalk or walking path.
Let’s begin our public benches tour downtown
“The humble bench. … Benches speak to egalitarian ideals, provided as a public good, an open gesture of welcome to any passer-by. They are symbols of what it means for space to be shared, of what we have in common regardless of income or background. The invitation to sit makes no further demands; no price tag, dress code, minimum or maximum length of stay or restriction on the company kept. Classic urban design theorists such as Jacobs and Whyte, repeatedly highlighted the importance of people sitting and watching the world go by as fundamental to the vitality and safety of city places.”Radhika Bynon and Clare Rishbeth
Ashland Plaza bench photos with people!
Most of my bench photos focus only on the benches, not on people using the benches. That was an oversight on my part. Here are two photos with people.
Benches are for resting, people watching, conversing
“Benches build community. Conveniently located benches attract the locals who pass by often. … ‘Conveniently located’ is the key phrase here. The most used benches are close to where many people go, such as shops and densely-clustered homes. Well-located benches also keep their backs to buildings and face the street.”Adam Greenfield
Walking toward the Railroad District
“Public benches offer so much more than a place to just sit down. Benches allow people of all abilities and ages to spend more time outdoors, boosting physical and mental health and connecting them to their community through shared public spaces. Adding benches to commercial districts and city squares allow generations to intermingle, both young families and seniors can participate in a shared public space regardless of age or mobility loss, either through disability or temporary injury. As our population ages, benches will become even more important to help break increasingly daunting trips to the grocery store or to other retail spaces into smaller, more manageable journeys.”Reliance Foundry website
Benches for rest and community connection are in other neighborhoods, too
“To make walking safer and more enjoyable, we need to add human scale touches, also called pedestrian amenities. We need these amenities in every neighborhood, not just downtown. Think about street trees that provide shade and beauty, benches for resting or conversing, drinking fountains to quench the thirst, even public art to engage the senses.”Peter Finkle
The closing photo below could go in my upcoming photo essay about benches in city parks and Home Owner Association common spaces. However, I like the way it wraps up this photo essay about public benches. We began in the Plaza, the center of Ashland. Now we end with a view of Bear Creek on its way out of town to eventually meet the ocean.
“Most of the wonderful places in the world were not made by architects but by the people.”Christopher Alexander, author of “A Pattern Language,” a book about human-centered architecture.
Anon. “Sitting Together: How Benches Help Build Community, Reliance Foundry website.
Anon. The Public Bench Project website.
Bynon, Radhika and Rishbeth, Clare. “Benches for everyone Solitude in public, sociability for free,” The Young Foundation, 2015.
Greenfield, Adam. “This Guy Reclaimed Community By Putting Out Guerrilla Benches,” March 29, 2016, The Plaza Perspective website.