A Review of Jon Cotner’s Spontaneous Society

James Yeh in The Faster Times:


Is it possible, in this age of earbuds and smart phones, to spread “good vibes” among strangers on the street through something as simple as conversation? The poet Jon Cotner thinks so. That’s why Cotner—who, along with Andy Fitch, co-authored Ten Walks/Two Talks—created Spontaneous Society, a walking tour designed to create “gentle interventions” aimed at “replacing urban anonymity with something bordering on affection—even if it’s fleeting.”

The premise is simple: to each participant, Cotner gives two very simple, very basic lines to recite to passersby. The lines (which Cotner lovingly describes as “oceanic”) are, generally and in essence, positive observations about something that passerby is currently doing as a means of initiating a brief, but positive, social exchange. For example, “That looks like a good spot for a picnic,” said when passing someone eating on a bench, a blanket, or doorstep; or “It’s a good day to have the feet out,” said when someone approaches with a carriage in which at least one inhabitant is shoeless.

More here.