The Globe reports today on the broader roll-out of the Soofa “smart” bench, including one in front of the famed Toscanini’s ice cream shop in Central Square, Cambridge. The Soofa features a solar panel and free USB charging ports. This news follows last summer’s pilot program when Soofa was deployed in select parks throughout Boston; sadly, Rozzie was not included.
Why does this matter? No one is deeply suffering from the lack of phone charging facilities. It is far from the most urgent infrastructure need in our neighborhood (or anywhere). But these sorts of projects are important because they represent and promote new and creative uses of public space. They expand our imagination about the possibilities of the commons. Just as we are re-thinking most aspects of our home and work spaces in light of new technology and a rapidly-transforming economy, we should seek out experiments–both modest and bold–for our public spaces, to discover what works and what doesn’t. Roslindale is the ideal neighborhood to try out these ideas because of our compact layout and diverse demographics. Let’s make sure we are not left out of these new urban visions in the future.
Also worth checking out: results and lessons learned from the Soofa experiment via the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics.