Few things can make you feel as young and carefree as a swing set – that quick rush of air as you kick off the ground and the exhilaration as you fly higher and higher into toward the sky. Now imagine if that swing set went beyond those simply joys—imagine if it also played music and that when enough people used the swings at the same time, you could compose a song.
From the sandbox to the sidewalk
For anyone in San Jose, California this summer, that fantasy was made into reality. As part of their ongoing work to support creative activities that create connections for residents in Silicon Valley, the City of San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs (along with some fabulous nonprofit, corporate, and foundation partners) brought “The Swings: An Exercise in Musical Cooperation” to downtown San Jose and invited visitors to make music together through swinging.
A project out of the design studio Daily tous les jours, “The Swings” is all about helping people connect with each other, since each swing can make its own sound, of course, but some sounds are only possible when there’s cooperation among many swings.
According to the creators, the benefits of these connections are as diverse as they are plentiful.
"… The Swings have shown that they bring out people’s instinct to play. Those instincts trump the learned behaviors that create distance between people, and between people and their urban environment.
…They create sociability between citizens by helping to break down barriers between different communities, reducing tensions and creating opportunities for contact."