The first step in fixing a problem is identifying that there is one.
The moment James Warren saw a stranger sitting in the dirt at a bus stop in Denver, Colorado, he knew this was a problem that required a solution. Since he had some wood lying around at home, he took it upon himself to fix the issue.
As a mobility and transit advocate, James is always on the lookout for ways to include marginalized people in our society. He thought of the people who generally use public transit and realized the lack of seating affected the poor and disabled more than most. Plus, seeing someone sitting on the ground struck him as “simply undignified.”
James built the first bench out of scrap wood he already had and placed it at one of the 9,700 bus stops in Denver. So far, James has made about eight benches since he started the project in January. Each bench is made entirely of scavenged materials and comes with James’ personal motto etched into the seat: “Be Kind.”
“It’s a good message,” he explained. “It’s a message anyone can do. Spread a little bit more kindness in the world and be a little kinder to your neighbour and just try to be a little bit more thoughtful and cognizant of the needs of others.”
Many of the benches get stolen or vandalized, but that doesn’t deter James. He sees the weary passengers waiting for the bus and knows he has the power to make their day just a little bit easier, so he does.
Now that his benches are getting noticed, he’s getting offers to help build benches, along with people offering to donate materials. He turns down any offer of cash, explaining that he prefers to upcycle free materials instead of purchasing new.
James says his favorite thing is to see someone sitting on one of his benches. Many people have thanked him for the seating option, and seeing the good they’re doing in his community makes him even more eager to continue.
“And as long as I’m able, I’m going to keep advocating for better mobility options and better mobility amenities at our bus stops to anyone who will listen,” he said.
James is setting a wonderful example for the rest of us. Why complain about a problem when you can get out your tools and fix it? Well done, James!
Don’t forget to share this man’s selfless acts of kindness with a friend.
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