"As a group of five, we decided to set up a table and chairs, with a sign asking people to join us. The first location we chose was by the sea, right across from the entrance to the AUB's girls' dorms.

We decided we would only move locations when we were asked to do so. For about 5 hours, our intervention proved to be successful with people of all walks of life curiously joining us. To our surprise, we found out that many of those people who were regular users of the Corniche actually knew each other, and this changed our perception of the Corniche: no longer was the seaside simply a linear space with people walking back and forth. It was also a space where people's paths crossed and friendships were mended. The Syrian artists knew the fisherman, who knew a regular family. Having made 4 extra chairs available for people to join, the vacancy of these chairs varied depending on the time of day. The table was generally fuller during the afternoon, when at times all four chairs were being sat on and interviews spanned for up to an hour. At night, barely anyone felt comfortable sitting down with us in the dark and the interviews were very brief.

We were eventually asked by the police to move, since setting up your own seating environment is in fact illegal.

The next day we moved to the other side of the road, next to Uncle Deek. At 2 am, the streets were pretty much deserted and the workers at Uncle Deek mocked us and kept their distance. At 4 am, to our disbelief, old men started arriving collectively, buying coffee from Uncle Deek before eagerly crossing the road to exercise and swim in the cold weather. Later they were happy to join our table, letting us know how much the Corniche is an adored breathing space. After exercising, the old men returned to Uncle Deek, setting up their own chairs outside on the sidewalk to have breakfast. Seeing this interaction, Uncle Deek's workers decided they could now mingle with us, inviting us to coffee and inviting themselves to cookies. Their hangout merged with ours, and once again the Corniche proved to be a space of friendship and interaction."

By
Loulwa Achkar
Mustafa Chehab
Farah Harake
Joey Ibrahim
Rami Saab

 
 

Articles & Media

The Corniche as a Playground Blog on Jun 25, 2012
Five Corniches at Once Blog on Jun 25, 2012
A Platform of Happenings Video on Jun 25, 2012
 

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