Why we'll soon be re-connecting with one another in our public spaces.

One thing to look forward to as the COVID-19 vaccine is distributed is that, soon enough, we will be able to be close to one another once more. The various ways that we greet each other — whether that's with a hug, kiss, handshake, or any of the myriad ways we traditionally say "hello" — will slowly be able to return. This has tremendous implications for our public spaces; the sites of so many chance encounters, meetings, and gatherings.

When we think about this and hope for our public spaces to once again be able to invite closeness and togetherness, we can't help but think about Paris as a shining example in this category. As "The City of Love," many equate Paris with romance. But Paris doesn't stop there — in addition to romance, it's also a city full of public spaces that encourage connection in a broader sense, including between friends and family. This collection of photos shows the ways in which Paris invites us to be near to our loved ones, expressing ourselves openly.

Public Displays of Affection. From simple eye contact to a kiss — human contact imbues a place with life. The natural expression of reaching out to communicate with or touch one another is a basic way of communicating, and is almost as important as breathing.

Community. Closeness and connection reassures us that we are important and loved. That we care and are cared for. That we are a part of a family, a group, a community.

Expression. A safe, comfortable space invites us to connect and be close to one another. And witnessing public displays of affection reassures us that it’s OK to relax and be ourselves in a given place.

Contact. Chance encounters are one of the most valuable things that our public realm offers to us. Think of how many times you've run into a friend — or made a new one — with the help of a public space!

The goal of The Social Life Project is to incite a renaissance of community connection around the globe. It is an initiative of the Placemaking Fund, along with PlacemakingX — a global network of activists and community champions propelling the movement forward.

Like all of our work, these articles are constantly evolving. We encourage you to be part of this effort.