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If you could ask one question to all of your neighbors, what would you ask?

Live TED Conversation: Join TED Fellow Candy Chang

Candy is a public installation artist, designer, and urban planner who likes to make cities more comfortable for people. She's passionate about redefining the ways we use public space to share information that can improve our neighborhoods and our personal well-being. See more of her at http://candychang.com and http://civiccenter.cc.

This conversation will open at 3pm EST on Monday, August 1, 2011.

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    Aug 1 2011: So I ask this question out of personal curiosity, and I've been entertained and enlightened by the range of responses on Facebook over the weekend https://www.facebook.com/TED/posts/175621919171732 . Just starting to parse through some of the responses. All the examples below are real ones from the FB thread...

    There are the common challenges of living so close together, like uninvited nudity, noise, and dog poo (one of my favorites from the thread: "Why don't you wear pants when you water your yard?")

    But we have all probably bugged someone else without knowing it. The drama could be alleviated if we just knew.
    (Is there anything I do that bugs you? Can you guys hear us doing it? Why do you hate me?).

    There are ways to make our neighborhood better that we can only do together.
    (Would you please turn your porch lights on at night?... one small step to make our street brighter and safer. Would you like to join me in throwing a neighborhood block party? I'd like to shout and announce in the street the night before we need to move our cars across the street, so we don't all get parking tickets once a month when we forget. Would this annoy you?)

    There are a lot of pros of sharing local info and resources.
    (What's ur password for the wifi? Do you need eggs? Do I have anything you can use? Do you have something I can use? May I use your backyard for a vegetable garden? If you say yes. I will give you 25%, I'll keep 25%, and donate 50% to the food bank. Where can we start a community garden?)

    There are the practical things we can learn from each other
    (Which supermarket do you prefer? Do you know how to make compost? How in God's name did you get that giant furniture up the stairwell? And can you show me how?)

    And there are emotional things too. Our neighbors are people too :)
    (Why do you live here? What are you passionate about? What do you want out of life? How can I help? Are you happy? What rocks your world? Are you ok? Come over for tea some time!!
    • Aug 1 2011: After reading the Facebook replies, I realized that what I imagine is what I would ask my neighbors if I knew that they would trust me enough to answer from the heart, not what would I ask if all my neighbors were at a party and I had the floor. to ask a public question. In a sense, I am thinking about what Parker Palmer calls "the shy soul" and what it takes for that part of a person to feel safe enough to speak. . . and then, what would I ask in that context?
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        Aug 1 2011: Hi Christina - That's a wonderful observation and I like that phrase, "the shy soul". It's something I've just begun to think about with public art experiments. Anonymity and personal space are interesting benefits to interactive platforms in public space. You can share with your community but on your own time and without the pressure of the crowd or judgment. I don't think you'd see the same responses on the Before I Die wall (http://beforeidie.cc) if it was done face-to-face in a community meeting. The wall gives you the space you need to be private, solitary, and thoughtful. It brings out an honesty amongst people in public space that makes me wonder how much we could share and learn from each other if given the opportunity... Thanks for sharing, your comment will simmer with me for a long while!

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