Sidewalk Survey

What is it?
Each afternoon we put out a new question on the clear pocket folder. People walking by can cast their Yes/No or numbered vote with a stone in one of the chalked squares. Since this is a “no-contact” survey, they can use their foot to move a stone from the pile.

The Sidewalk Survey started as a stay-at-home-school project for my 2nd and 4th graders, I thought it would be a fun way to practice graphing and percentages. Although, I found out early on that I was way more interested than they were.

Necessity is the mother of invention. The pandemic shut us all indoors for months, cutting us off from our normal social patterns. But we are social creatures who need connection. As days went on, more and more neighbors participated. It gave me a sense of belonging to something bigger than myself. We were all in this together, and this was a way to connect us all – even if we never knew the participants

And then something unexpected happened. Conversations.

Our active little boys play out front of the house often, and my introvert interactions with neighbors usually consists of smiles and hand waves to people out walking. But all of the sudden, people were stopping to chat, some that we were more familiar with, but many people we have never talked to before. They would tell me how they enjoyed the survey and interested in what the current question might be. We would talk about random silly things like horseback riding or skydiving, things that never would have entered the conversation in another context. (Some would even walk away chatting to each other about a time in their life that they hadn’t discussed before.)

To me, that bit of connection – even something as small as that – fills a loneliness gap left by not having acquaintance conversations at school pick up, grocery store, little league games, you name it. I didn’t realize that an introvert like me craved that kind of connection.

So, Thank you! If you are reading this because you followed the QR code from the street, I appreciate your participation and conversations. Below are the survey results for the survey thus far.