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Turning the Page: New Community Benches Will be Shaped Like Books

by on October 25, 2014 9:45 AM

Here’s your chance to really get inside a book.

A series of benches, shaped like books, will be placed throughout Centre County sometime this summer, and you get the chance to decide what those "book benches" will look like.

These unique benches are a collaborative effort by the SPE Federal Credit Union and the Child Development and Family Council of Centre County. The plan is to give residents across the county a colorful and artistic place to sit and relax.

“It’s going to be organized chaos,” SPE outreach coordinator Sue Swain says of the design process. “[The designs] could be the theme of a book a local author wrote, or it could be a theme of theater, dance or sports. It’s all encompassing and any age can participate.”

The idea was developed by Swain last June after she heard the Centre Foundation was introducing a new grant program called "Center Inspires."

Center Inspires is a program designed to help transform Centre County. 

Swain believed that any community-related project should tell the story of Centre County. However, she was not quite sure what that story should be about.

After seeing pictures of similar benches that are popular in London, Swain realized the concept of a book was the perfect idea to tell any story.

“When people think of what comes to mind with Centre County, they usually say, bears or hunting or fishing, but there wasn’t one thing to me that said Centre County,” Swain says. “I saw the London benches and from my perspective, it applied to both kids and adults. Everyone likes to read and that’s the way to tell a story.” 

The idea was further developed once SPE paired with the CDFC, and this past Friday their idea was chosen as the winner of a $100,000 grant awarded by Centre Inspires. 

Now that the bench program is a work in progress, there is plenty to be done. While anyone is allowed to help with the design and any theme is an option, there still has to be a certain level of organization. 

To prevent too much chaos, local artist Elody Gyekis has been hired to oversee the project. A Facebook page will be created so supporters can post ideas for what you want to see on the benches before a final decision is made. 

“Elody is going to help us get things together, like sketches and color pallets,” Swain says. “I’m sure there will be plenty of meetings before decisions are made. We want the community to help paint it as well.”

The plan is for 25 benches to be placed throughout the county, and while the locations have yet to be picked out, Swain says there is no shortage of options. 

Some ideas for placement include SPE’s office on Science Park Road, the Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau on East Park Avenue, and the many local parks in the county. 

“We have other places in mind but we still need to ask them,” Swain says. “People were shouting at us that they wanted one as we were leaving [the grant announcement] on Friday.”

The time frame for the unveiling of these new benches hasn’t been finalized, but Swain says the target is this upcoming Arts Fest in July. 



Matt Allibone is a StateCollege.com intern. He's a Penn State senior, studying print journalism. Matt is a native of Delran, N.J.
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