Can Do Signs
Public spaces are typically designed as places where people can come together and do the things they enjoy, in public. However, the signs found in these places typically list prohibited activities, things you aren't allowed to do. "No trespassing after dusk". "No feeding the geese". No. No. No! These negative messages can have a disheartening effect.
The goal of this project, co-led by urban designers and planners from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department, is to flip the typical use of signs. Instead of saying "No", this project asks the community what it wants to do, then places signs that give users of public space amusing, enchanting, and fun options. You can dance! You can sing! You can skip! You can hold hands!
Through this project, we seek to learn whether someone's day can be brightened by encouraging positive behaviors in an unexpected way, and can we use this to bring people and government closer?
The signs' messages have been developed using online engagement. When people see the signs and find out what they "can do", they are encouraged to share a photo of themselves and their friends doing the thing shown on the sign and then sharing it on social media with the hashtag #CanDoSigns.
The act of sharing what they love to do in those places will add to the positive impressions of our public spaces. This is a type of feedback which is not typically solicited by the City. Visitors and Charlotteans alike will pause, engage with the Can Do Signs, and use them as both an invitation and permission to enjoy themselves.