10 steps to running a Street Scene

There’s no better place to enjoy the wonders of the city than on the streets. Street Scenes is a network of people gathering on the streets to meet strangers and enjoy the public walkways.

Ideally, Londoners would regularly have the option of joining a friendly bunch in a public space.

To do that, we organise events and make sure there are always at least three people who can come, host and chat to people.

If you want to get involved email us at info@streetscenes.org.uk.

Here are some guidelines that we recommend so Street Scenes are enjoyable for everyone. It’s easy, but these will help it go smoothly.

1 Find a location

Places with a medium amount of passers-by are good. If it’s too busy, you’ll get in the way and people will feel rushed; if it’s too calm you might just end up alone. Near transport hubs, like train stations and bus stops, is good.

Choose places where people won’t be disturbed. There are plenty of spots where residents won’t get bothered by noise and passers-by will feel welcomed, not blocked, by what’s going on.

If someone has a good reason and asks you to move, it’s often easiest to find another spot and maintain good relations. A new spot can even make a welcome change, even if you liked the last one. Adapting to new spaces and situations is part of the fun.

2 Recruit a team

You might be happy setting up on your own in the street. I’ve done that and it can be a good way to spend time. However, it’s fun to set up with friends or like-minded people.

Choose a date and arrange for your team to meet you in a given place. If you’d like to join our network, get in touch with us so we can connect you with other street enthusiasts and share your event.

3 Activities

We always have an entertaining activity to share with passing strangers. There are so many possibilities including entertainments we’ve tried and tested, and those you might imagine.

See our list for inspiration.

We want our events to welcome everyone. It’s worth thinking how your activities might be viewed by families, for example.

You will have most fun if you bring along something small to show or play with, like origami or drawing materials. There’s something for everyone.

4 Street furniture

We like to pick places where the street furniture provides us surfaces to run activities on as it involves less equipment. You can be quite creative with this.

A large pad of drawing paper is attached to strong twigs coming from a bush by the street.
A large pad of drawing paper is attached to strong twigs coming from a bush by the street.

Depending on the location you choose, you may want to bring some small, portable furniture to increase seating options and provide table space for activities.

This also gives the sense of a happening that makes people stop and inquire.

We sometimes use light and portable tripod chairs and picnic tables. Sometimes we use other found items, like milk crates, boxes, cable spools and other pieces.

5 Setting up and getting going

Arrange yourself and your furniture. Prepare your activities in a place where people can see them as they walk towards you and enjoy the street view.

If you have something to offer, like origami frog-making classes, you may want to say it out loud. People are ever so curious.

6 Welcome strangers

Friendliness is the spirit of Street Scenes. Everyone has something to offer and the more welcoming you are, the more people will surprise you.

7 Explaining the scene

Sometimes, passers-by are unsure why you’re there.

They are often surprised to see people on the street and suspect that you are selling something or recruiting. We just say we’re there because we like meeting new people. You could invite them to follow Street Scenes online so they hear about future events.

If you are asked what you are doing by an official, so long as you are being considerate, as these guidelines suggest, you should be confident that you are not causing any offence.

8 Enjoy it

Sometimes organising and hosting an event, even a small one, can make you feel busy and distracted.

Don’t worry if things don’t go to plan, simply being on the streets in an open frame of mind is a good thing.

The event will be most successful if you’re having fun. That’s the point of it all and people are more likely to get involved if they can tell that you’re in a good mood.

9 Rubbish is ugly

Gatherings in public places can create extra mess.

It’s easy to encourage people to take rubbish with them and to clear up excess afterwards.

10 Report back

It’s good to share news of your event with us at Street Scenes and with your friends.

We’d love to hear what you got up to, by email, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter. And please join our network for future events!