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Bench Built In South Bend To Encourage Sense Of Community

Mike Keen

A bench in a neighborhood in South Bend is providing residents with more than just a place to relax. 

The Laughing Bench at 911 Portage Avenue is meant to give people a sense of community. It’s said that if you sit on the bench with another person, you can’t help but laugh.

Mike Keen came up with the idea from his grandmother who had a similar bench in her backyard.

“I think we need to make places we want to be and we identify with and that are special," Keen said. "We’ve already had people sitting on this thing before we even finished it. We get a smile. We get a laugh. That’s what we want.”

South Bend resident Carl Clay sat on the bench with Keen to test it out.

“Laughter is very good for anybody’s day to day life. It would be nice to have laughing benches all over,” Clay said.

The bench the second project of a placemaking trio. The first was the Birthday Chair and the third will be a garden which will be finished this Spring.

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