Urbanist: Take Something, Leave Something
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Urbanist: Take Something, Leave Something

Urbanist is a photo series that will look at developments, architecture, trends and activities happening in various cities––including our own––to inspire the urbane urbanist at home to make Toronto a better place.
Swap Box
Sometimes what makes a city great are small, less obvious things that make you smile, or better yet, engage your environment in a more active way. Around Ottawa, you can find swap boxes like the one shown above on telephone poles or construction hoardings. They are guerilla art. Their concept is simple: take something and leave something. It can mean leaving something like a trinket, a poem, a drawing, or mini treatise on why you think the current state of affairs sucks. The boxes themselves can be messages: the one above lampoons Ottawa’s current mayor for being hell-bent on a tax freeze, and asks what you’re willing to trade to get a 0% tax increase. Swap libraries for a tax freeze, maybe?
While they’re not going to change the world, swap boxes at least represent a small step towards engaging people in a large city and trying to have some fun at the same time. Civic spaces can’t always be programmed spaces with the right street furniture. Sometimes they need unprogrammed, spontaneous elements that make people stop and think outside the box for a moment.
Photo by Zoom! at www.knitknut.net