The Bottom-Up Revolution Is…Building Bus Stop Benches

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The Asheville Bench Project is a very grassroots, incremental, small-bet approach to making Asheville a little more livable, a little more people-friendly. 

Today’s guest on The Bottom-Up Revolution podcast, hosted by Rachel Quednau, is choosing to remain anonymous (find out why in the episode). He was watching his neighbors stand out in the hot sun, the rain, the cold, waiting for their buses at utterly neglected patches of sidewalk, with cars whizzing past, and not even a place to sit while they waited. So he took matters into his own hands and started building benches and installing them at bus stops.

He didn’t ask permission or go through a permitting process. He just saw a problem and started addressing it. His effort, which is only a couple months old, has already grown into a project with multiple volunteers, positive feedback from bus riders, and some local businesses starting to get involved.

For the founder of the Asheville Bench Project, this effort is about more than simply providing a place for a weary rider to sit. It’s also about drawing attention to how the city has neglected to do this work itself. Eleven percent of households in Asheville don’t have a car. Is it too much to ask that a key source of transportation, especially for those people without cars, be modestly humane and accommodating? Our guest today wants his local leaders to start thinking about that how much they prioritize car travel and how little they consider the often much more cost-effective and resilient forms of transportation like biking, walking, and transit. 

Overall, our guest’s message is simple but so important: If you see something wrong in your city, you have the power to fix it. And you should step up and do just that.

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