Refuge & Solidarity infrastructure
From a policy perspective, although the MBTA is involved in programs that support the arts in stations, the bureaucratic process involved in acquiring a permit to create such a space is often labyrinthine and consequently excludes certain communities with limited access to government services.
On an average weekday, Boston area residents and tourists take over one million trips on Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) trains. Day laborers, doctors, professors, artists, students, and individuals from all social, economic, and political spheres inhabit the same space concurrently, yet interaction between them is limited at best: a momentary glance, a shared smile while watching a performer. As a result, these societal strata are preserved (as Robert Putnam’s constrict theory explains) and any chance of solidarity across communities evaporates. How, then, to develop a space of solidarity within this diverse context? How can we hack policy to support this objective?
The design intervention is the creation of a living room on a metro platform. Items—including a comfortable chair, a plant, framed art, and other accessories—create an inviting space and jarring contrast to the sterile, impersonal metro station. The invitation to rest contrasts sharply with the MBTA’s stated mission of swiftly moving passengers to their destination and is founded on the notion that living rooms are primordial spaces for familial and neighborly solidarity. Local culture vis-à-vis human interactions can be taken into consideration when planning such interventions.
(text)Joseph Manganiello is a Master in Public Policy candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School, where he is concentrating on social and urban policy. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in French and Italian from Middlebury College and has worked for the past several years for the US government as a foreign media specialist and an analyst on European socio-political issues, to include transnational radicalization and marginalization of first-and second‐generation immigrant communities. He studied abroad in France and Italy and has interned with the US State Department, the New York City Parks Commissioner, and Sesame Street. He is interested in food policy and enjoys soccer, squash, travel, and the outdoors.