Hand-decorated swings are popping up all over St. Petersburg, Florida. Hanging from trees, overpasses, and anything else that would support both the weight of a transformed plank of wood and its passenger, are brightly decorated swings.
Swings Tampa Bay was the brainchild of Reuben Pressman and Hunter Payne. Now set up as a non-profit, the 22-year-old Reuben and Hunter decided that they wanted to do something to help their community.
Some might question the benefit of having swings appear across the city. In fact, when hanging swings, Reuben and Hunter are often asked about their motives by quizzical passers-by: 'Why are you doing that?' or 'Are you allowed to do that?' The idea behind Swings Tampa Bay is to brighten people's days and bring people together.
As Hunter says: 'We've seen people meeting and talking because of the swings, bringing a smile to their faces'... People who do not usually interact find their inhibitions lowered by such a simple yet calming activity. Those people who have not been on a swing since childhood are suddenly returned to the carefree and liberating sensation of flying through the air.
The swings themselves are made very simply. They consist of just a section of wood through which four holes are drilled. What makes the swings so special is that they are painted by members of the community. Reuben and Hunter take their swings to their local market where they set up a stall and invite passers-by to paint their own swing.
The duo are also reaching out to other community organizations to help spread the love. One local art gallery, Creative Clay, whose mission it is to make art accessible to people with disabilities, have received 70 swings from Reuben and Hunter to be decorated by their students.
The result is a multitude of brightly painted swings, each as imaginative as the next, that are guaranteed to catch your eye as you walk past.
The operation of hanging the swing in the assigned spot is very simple. After throwing the climbing rope over the structure -- tree, overpass, signpost -- they have chosen, they loop the rope through the holes on each side and tie them securely. They have the process down to a fine art -- within minutes, they can have a swing up and ready to be enjoyed before moving on to the next.
While they have met with curiosity from some local authorities, they have also been welcomed with open arms by others. The swings are clearly enjoyed by the community, and bring out not only a camaraderie among people who meet around the swings but also a creativity and sense of achievement from those who decorate a swing themselves.
So if you ever see them 'hanging' around, make sure to go and say hello, and enjoy the swing they leave behind them.