The first ‘Happy to Chat’ bench in Poland is already a fact, as of this week. Known locally as Gaduławka, it is an upgraded bench that encourages people to talk to each other. As it appears, a simple nudge in the form of an inviting sign may work miracles in terms of fighting loneliness, which has become all the more acute at times of social isolation.
The first ‘Happy to Chat’ bench in Poland was inaugurated on the evening of 22 September, at the Jewish Community Centre of Krakow during the week-long Sukkot Festival. Other than its attractive design, the bench wears a special sign, inviting passers-by to sit and strike up a conversation with a stranger. The aim of the action is, of course, to fight loneliness and to rebuild the sense of community among citizens.
Gaduławka is the Polish equivalent of the ‘Happy to Chat’ Benches, which have already gained roots in Western Europe, USA, Australia and New Zealand. First introduced by Allison Owen Jones in Cardiff, the project reached Poland thanks to Allison’s TEDxKazimierz talk in October 2020, as the organisers of the opening event have explained.
The following implementation was supported by Krakow entrepreneur Richard Lucas, and Gliwice-based Maria Gorczyca, working with Fulco — a leading street furniture firm. The action is also supported by Magdalena Błyskosz – the founder of Open Coffee Youth.