Former Associate editor Margret Aldrich on the hunt for happiness, community, and how humans thrive
I have vivid childhood memories of the swing that hung from my grandmother’s massive cottonwood tree. Under the shimmering leaves in early summer, I would perch on the wooden plank of a seat, grab onto the thick, rough rope tied to a branch twenty feet above, and pump my legs until I was kicking the clouds. The simple swing offered pure, easy happiness.
Artist Jeff Waldman is spreading that youthful joy around. According to The Huffington Post and funder The Awesome Foundation, he and his friends have installed public wood-and-rope swings in San Francisco, the Marshall Islands, Panama, and, most recently, Los Angeles. Waldman explains the enthusiam for his guerilla swing project:
What started last year as a conversation about the simplistic pleasures of swings has launched into a multi-city experiment in unexpected joy and cerebral happiness. Via contact info we left on the wooden seats, we’ve received notes from those that used them, talking about the surprising smiles that were left on their faces…. The joy felt and the urge to spread it was contagious.
Next up on their quest to spread the bliss of swinging: Bolivia. The country was chosen for the project because of its poverty level and the age of its population (49 percent of Bolivians are under 20), among other factors. “Essentially Bolivia is a country largely populated by children, few of whom ever get to enjoy that childhood,” Waldman writes on his Kickstarter fundraising page. “If ever there was a place in need of a return to innocence and a reminder of the distilled joys in life, this is it.”
Watch an uplifting video documenting Waldman’s work so far and his vision for Bolivia. I guarantee you’ll want to start swinging.
Image courtesy of Jeff Waldman.