How a single bench helped a DC neighborhood

A local business has put a bench outside its store and it's not alone. It's part of a broader movement around the world of do-it-yourself urban planners helping to bring the community together, by making it a little more comfy.

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - Karl Mpomda has lived in D.C.’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood for 11 years. 

One of his favorite places is to sit on an orange bench in of front of Each Peach Market.

"When you sit on a bench, you can see the world." Mponda said. 

Mponda immigrated to the U.S. from Angola. From the bench, he likes to watch people go by and find inspiration for his writing.

"This is the first city street I walked when I came to America.", he said.

Mponda isn't alone. The orange bench has a lot of fans.

Each Peach Market put the bench outside to give their customers a place to sit. It has turned into a gathering point for people in the neighborhood.

The orange bench is part of a broader movement around the world of do-it-yourself urban planners: who want to bring the community together, by making it a little more comfy.

City planners call it tactical urbanism, where something as small as a bench can be used to improve the look and feel of a neighborhood.

Jessica Worthington took a break on the bench, while out walking with her two-month old baby.

"I think it's great, I think it's essential," she said. “There's so much to see and so many different people walking by.  It's nice to sit down and enjoy it instead of just walking past everything."

Each Peach Market General Manager Eleanor Gease says they put the bench out to give their customers a place to sit and eat, since the store is too small for indoor seating.

"'The bench is just a little symbol," said Gease. “A little representation of trying to have a customer service orientation. Even in a very tight space."

"I love the bench. The bench is great. the bench allows us to sit here and talk to the neighborhood, said Adam Green who works in the neighborhood and sits on the bench during his breaks.

His colleague, Rashwanda Joiner added, “and that makes this a neighborhood for real. Literally. Because a lot of people don't talk to each other nowadays," she said. “The only other place is on the other side of the block at the park. And that park's not all that safe sometimes." 

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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