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'Just Share Something Positive': Post-Election Subway Art Project Moves Online

The Subway Therapy Boston art project only lasted for eight hours spread over two nights. But now the collection of Post-it notes is being put online. (Courtesy Ani Krishnan)MoreCloseclosemore
The Subway Therapy Boston art project only lasted for eight hours spread over two nights. But now the collection of Post-it notes is being put online. (Courtesy Ani Krishnan)

"Stick a note on a wall and write a little something to share with the world."

That's how Venita Subramanian describes the collection of Post-it notes that were stuck to the walls of MBTA stations in Boston earlier this month -- and are now being archived online.

Subramanian is one of the organizers behind Subway Therapy Boston: a project that was designed to lift people's spirits — on all sides of the aisle — after this year's brutal presidential election season.

People walking through Park Street MBTA station on the Friday night after the election and through Harvard Square station on Friday, Nov. 18, found volunteers handing out Post-its and markers to give commuters the chance to write positive messages and stick them to the wall.

"It was spurred out of something political," Subramanian says, "but I'm convinced, that [for] most people who expressed themselves, it came from a place of human love and kindness for one another, regardless of their political affiliations."

Subramanian and her team of volunteers are now putting the collection of almost 2,500 notes they received online so that a larger audience can see the feel-good messages.

Collectively, Subway Therapy Boston received about 2,500 Post-it notes as it was set up in the Park Street and Harvard Square T stations on Nov. 11 and 18. (Courtesy Alan Fang)
Collectively, Subway Therapy Boston received about 2,500 Post-it notes as it was set up in the Park Street and Harvard Square T stations on Nov. 11 and 18. (Courtesy Alan Fang)

Subramanian wanted to bring this project to Boston after reading about a similar Post-it note project in New York City's subway system.

"I thought, 'You know what, I want to get people to just come and essentially be one big, giant hug and share their support, love and compassion for each other.' And that's kind of how it started. Essentially, just share something positive about the world."

Subramanian says, out of the thousands of notes Subway Therapy Boston received, only four or five of them had hateful messages. When those appeared, Subramanian says bystanders would transform the drawings or phrases into something positive instead.

Organizers say they received just four or five messages of hate -- the rest of the 2,500 were positive. (Courtesy Alan Fang)
Organizers say they received just four or five messages of hate -- the rest of the 2,500 were positive. (Courtesy Alan Fang)

"That was very heartwarming to watch," Subramanian says, "and a lot of people came up and said how inspired they were and some people said that they felt motivated now to create change themselves."

Subramanian is originally from Abu Dhabi and moved to Boston three years ago. Working full time as a user experience designer at Fidelity Investments, Subramanian says that she and the Subway Therapy Boston volunteers are putting the Post-its online in their free time because, for them, it's a labor of love.

"I really urge other creative professionals and artists to just go out there and do something similar and engage their community because you never know what impact your actions can have," she says. "One thing that I learned from doing this is that you can do something so small and still create a big impact."

Among Subramanian's favorite Post-it notes the group received is one that said: "Speak to somebody you disagree with."

She says that message of creating a dialogue spoke to her the most, "because we all need to challenge ourselves and our beliefs and ideals."

Subramanian is planning more creative events in Boston in the coming months to showcase the diversity of the city and to allow people to "express themselves in one way or another."

For now, though, she says she would call the Subway Therapy Boston project a success.

"It made me fall in love with Boston and the people here so much more," she says, "and I want more people to appreciate that and see how calm, resilient and compassionate the people are of Boston."

(Courtesy Erica Dragani)
(Courtesy Erica Dragani)

Bob Shaffer Twitter Producer
Bob is a producer for WBUR's digital and radio broadcast units.

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