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Introducing the Happy to Chat Initiative

Have you ever seen a stranger walk by and thought to yourself – “oh wow, I love their outfit” or “I feel like we could be friends?” Well, you are in luck because “Happy to Chat” is a new initiative on the World Trade Center Campus that encourages strangers to interact with one another to build more community and connections.


If you haven’t visited the “Happy to Chat” seating area yet, there are two configurations with square blocks on South Oculus Plaza - one in an L-shape and the other in an oval shape. These blocks have smiley faces on them and signage that indicate the “Happy to Chat” area.


At first glance, it is understandable that this concept can seem intimidating even if you consider yourself to be an extrovert because as New Yorkers or tourists, who wants to invite a stranger to talk to them? “Happy to Chat” is different because when you utilize the seating blocks, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will talk to every person that walks past you, but instead, that you are simply open to a comment, a compliment, or a conversation. As people walk by and learn more about the project, they can linger and start conversations with the people around them if they are comfortable.


Interested in participating in “Happy to Chat,” but need that extra push to begin the conversation? Here are some ideas: 

  1.  What do you like to do in your free time?
  2.  Where have you eaten around here?
  3.  What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?
  4.  What are your biggest pet peeves?
  5.  Would you ever go on a reality TV show?
  6.  What music do you listen to?
  7.  What is your friendship dealbreaker?
  8.  What is your favorite place in NYC?

The History of “Happy to Chat”

Happy To Chat was a project started by Allison Owen Jones from Cardiff to combat loneliness within her hometown through the placement of signage on park benches that let strangers know they are open to conversation. Her initiative has spread throughout parts of the UK, and even in New York!  

In addition to the provided seating arrangements, below is a list of resources including podcasts, articles, and videos about how participating in the “Happy to Chat” initiative can be beneficial to your mental health:

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