Pull up a seat

Ideas to better Winnipeg are being left on chairs around the city

Daniel Crump

Have an idea that will change Winnipeg’s urban design? Write it on a chair, sit in that chair and let’s talk.

5468796 Architecture is calling on Winnipeggers to do just that with a new concept dubbed Chair Your Idea. It is meant to ignite conversations about urban design in Winnipeg and ways to improve the city. 

“The intent is to invite Winnipeggers to take their seat at the table and join the conversation about urban design,” 5468796 event coordinator Caroline Inglis says. “The idea has not been tried in other cities as far as we know.”

The not-for-profit is encouraging Winnipeggers to brainstorm ideas that would be able to come to fruition with a $30,000 budget. Inglis says the competition is looking for “small but impactful urban design initiatives.” 

The process starts with an idea that can be described in 140 characters, which is the length of a tweet. Next, the idea needs to be registered for $25 at chairyouridea.ca and then written on a white chair. Lastly, the chair needs to be taken to a chair taker location in the city and left there.

Seems a bit complicated, but the process will pay off with the visual effect of seeing these idea chairs spread out in front of stores across Winnipeg. Places like Joe Black Coffee Bar, Winnipeg Public Libraries and Chaise Café & Lounge will have white chairs out front of their doors.

“The goal is to illustrate how people can have an active and positive role in their city and instigate real change,” Inglis says. “All of the ideas will be collected into an idea bank which will be presented to city council at the end of the competition and be read by all of the city council members so there is the potential of more ideas being implemented.”

In partnership with Winnipeg Design Festival, participants are asked to bring their chair to a block party on Sept. 19 where the winner of the competition will be announced.

Chair Your Idea is an exciting new initiative because it allows Winnipeggers to have a say in what is happening in the city and it further encourages pride and community development. 

“I am excited to see so many people submit ideas to improve cycling routes,” Inglis says.  She notes that issues with rapid transit and bus routes are being expressed on the chairs as well. 

Many celebrity chair submissions are being featured on the Chair Your Idea website, including ideas from Mayor Brian Bowman, contemporary artist Wanda Koop and retired CFL player Obby Khan. 

Some of the ideas suggested so far include planting community gardens, putting a skating rink in Old Market Square and adding more seating along Broadway.  

If you have an idea that would make the city better and it can happen for $30,000, pull up a chair and contribute to the conversation.

Published in Volume 70, Number 2 of The Uniter (September 17, 2015)

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