Colorful Bench Sparks An Important Discussion About How Society Treats Homeless People

When we think of inclusion and equality, we are often only scratching the surface of what that really means. One man in Calgary, Canada noticed a brightly colored rainbow bench that on the surface seems to be a statement of inclusion.

But as Isaac Cazuelos reflected on the bench, he noticed something that made him question how inclusive it really is. The bench is broken up with curved handles, breaking up the length of the seating area. This is a tactic used by many cities in an effort to stop homeless people from being able to lay down and sleep.

Cazuelos took to Twitter to share his thoughts and in the process opened up a much needed discussion about what it means to practice equality for all, especially when we include classism into the mix.  

In an interesting twist, the company responsible for the placement of the bench reached out to explain the history and purpose. 

The conversation continued, shedding light on how the homeless are often treated.

There was a shocking number of people who not only didn’t care but approved of the designs. 

Classism shows up, even in liberal cities such as Boulder, CO. 

The bench was labeled with a sticker from hostiledesign.org. The non-profit sells stickers that people can buy and label to designs they feel are hostile to certain sections of the public. On their site they describe themselves as:

 Hostile designs are designs against humanity. They are made specifically to exclude, harm or otherwise hinder the freedom of a human being. Quite often they aim to remove a certain section of a community from a public space.

This site exists to provide a platform to raise awareness around hostile design, empower you to name and shame those involved in it and create a living archive of hostile design around the globe. Ultimately the idea is that through awareness we can dissolve prejudice, influence planners and city councils and create more inclusive welcoming public space for everyone. 

The problem was addressed by people who have experienced first hand what it feels like to be homeless or temporarily displaced. 

As the conversation continued, more photos of hostile design came out. 

H/T: Twitter Moments