Miscellaneous

Replacing New York anonymity with affection

Replacing New York anonymity with affection

As communicative technologies become increasingly complex, Spontaneous Society shows the power of the simplest face to face affirmations.

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“LIVING IN A METROPOLIS produces an intense awareness of time,” writes Brooklyn artist/poet, and Spontaneous Society creator Jon Cotner. “Situations and people vanish before they even appear. Everything can seem so fleeting.”

“If we’re going to reach out to someone, and create a smile or conversation that otherwise wouldn’t exist, this must happen now. Otherwise it’s too late.”

Spontaneous Society is a series of guided walks through New York neighborhoods that give participants practical tools — a catalog of one-line utterances — for connecting with their worlds.

Cotner has tested each line thousands of times over thousands of blocks across multiple cities. Samples include:

“That’s a good-looking dog.” (said to someone approaching with a dog)

“That’s a good-looking duo.” (said to someone approaching with two dogs)

“That’s a good-looking wolfpack.” (said to someone approaching with three or more dogs—surprisingly common in New York)

“That looks pretty cozy.” (said to someone pushing a baby carriage)

“It must be nice to have a little helper.” (said to someone with a kid pushing a carriage or helping in another way)

“That’s a good pace.” (said to someone jogging past)

“It’s a good day for a ride.” (said to someone biking past)

“It’s a good day for a skate.” (said to someone skating past)

“That’s a good parking-spot.” (said to someone exiting a car)

“It’s a nice day for a picnic.” (said to someone eating on a bench, blanket, or doorstep)

“It’s a nice day to have the feet out.” (said to someone resting their bare feet)

“I hope the pizza pie stays warm.” (said to someone holding a pizza box)

“They say carrying bags is good exercise.” (said to someone holding heavy bags)

“That looks like a handy cart.” (said to someone pushing a handcart)

“That’s a good spot for a text.” (said to someone typing a message)

“Safe travels.” (said to someone wheeling a suitcase)

Adults, kids, even non-human animals respond to his lines. Once Jon told a man with a white parakeet on his finger: “That’s a good-looking bird.” The bird smiled then smoothed its feathers. It said “Good evening.”

Enjoy the audio here:

For more, please read Jon’s full Spontaneous Society article at the BMW Guggenheim Lab, and consider how you replace anonymity with affection starting right now.

Watch the video: Lenny Kravitz - New York City Official Video (October 2020).