Sit On it Detroit began as an idea scribbled on a piece of scrap paper at The Bottom Line Coffee House by Charles Molnar, who was later joined by Kyle Bartell. They are both Wayne State University students studying urban environments and finding solutions for those environments. That’s exactly what Sit On It is, a solution to a problem that Molnar and Bartell saw every day firsthand–a project that comes from a place of real passion and dedication to the city of Detroit. So much of Detroit’s population depends on the bus system for work, school and daily life, and with the implementation of benches, those people are able to take a seat. It’s simple, but so paramount to a lot of people’s everyday lives.
Each bench is fashioned from reclaimed wood from homes around Detroit and contain mini, free libraries where the whole community (bus rider or not) are encouraged to share books in an effort to promote literacy and give people with idle time waiting for the bus something to do. The concept of sharing in a community effort like this has caused some concerns, but Molnar and Bartell seem to remain in positive spirits about the impact a public space like these promote.
“A friend of mine asked if I was worried people would steal the books from the mini libraries. I want people to take those books, why would I be mad if some kid ‘stole’ a book? That’s the whole point,” said Molnar.
“We want to make riding the bus cool again,” said Bartell.
Numerous Detroiters are appreciative of a place to relax, and the benches have drawn community support throughout every step of the process.
“There are so many hands that touch each bench we create, we couldn’t do any of it without the amazing support of the community,” Bartell said.
From reasonably priced reclaimed wood, to the donated workspace in Hamtramck, to the participation in the free library concept, to donations given by appreciative bus riders, there is no part untouched by the magnanimous support of the people of Detroit.
“I have the coolest job in the world. I just get to make stuff all day that makes people’s lives better,” Molnar added.
Lately, everyone has been talking about Detroit being on an upturn and making a “comeback.” As Bartell said, “People make things in Detroit.” He’s exactly right. If it’s not making benches, it’s making art or cars, it’s making web applications and so much more. These benches are Sit On It Detroit’s effort in the movement.
Although Bartell and Molnar have been met with some negative reactions by the Detroit Department of Transportation, the two are confident that the benches are here to stay.
Jason Friedmann, the Director of Community and Economic Development for the City of Hamtramck, has already reached out to Sit On It to contribute similar benches in Hamtramck. The people of Detroit (and surrounding cities) are supporting this awesome endeavor and making catching the bus cool again. Sit On It Detroit has plenty of good stuff up their sleeve, and rumor has it they have a great project coming up with Grand River Creative Corridor.