One of strangest forms of social behavior happens on the
subway. Bright and early, everyone lugs their morning papers and bags onto the
trains. Then, they proceed to sit quietly, avoid eye contact, and plug into
their devices. In this enclosed subway train, eyes are averted and as little
human connection as possible is made, even though the environment provides so
much potential. They are stuck for a set amount of time, seated facing each
other, and probably from all walks of life. This is where the idea for Traffic
Jam came in. How do we get these people who commute silently every day to
interact and connect with one another, ostensibly breaking down this fourth
wall between them? Bringing up politics overtly tends to immediately raise up
more defenses and guards. Thus, forcing that sort of healing does not seem
possible in such a short amount of commute time. Traffic Jam’s premise puts
unsuspecting people together for a sharing creative experience that will leave
them feeling connected to their community and their own selves in that
community. This will hopefully subconsciously highlight connections that exist
among everyone, our humanity and drive for connection and creation, that will
spill over into our political interactions.

Traffic Jam will take time that would be spent avoiding
social interaction and transform it into time that thrives on it. This
immersive experience plays on several dual desires: the desire to just do what
is necessary and get to work on time, and the desire to also have fun and
connect with people. There is also the dual desire of being efficient and not
spending time and money on excess experiences, but also wanting to attend a
concert or have cultural capital. Traffic Jam allows you to get exactly where
you need to go, just like your usual commute, but introduces music to connect
and create with your fellow passengers on the way. Regular passengers will
simply pay for their standard subway fees. But Traffic Jam will rent out subway
trains so that when passengers board, they will be greeted with a full-on music
jam. There will be professional musicians leading the jams, with a set of
popular tunes that people can request, like a human jukebox. Passengers will be
able to just listen and dance or sing, or even pick up some of the extra
instruments the musicians will have available so they can join in. These can
include easy ones that require no previous experience, like tambourines, penny
whistles, bongos, and shakers. The shape of the trains, with seats facing
inwards and open space in between will give ample room for performers, singers,
listeners, and dancers. Traffic Jam will also rent out extra trains that run
more frequently to offset the space requirements for the jam and make sure
everyone gets exactly where they need to go on time. The Jam will also switch lines
every few days, so that different passengers can have the experience. This will
also keep people who enjoy the experience active in following along and
figuring out where the Jam is that day.

Our current political climate makes it even harder to reach out to our
neighbors because we have built divisive walls between us. Music, which
transcends boundaries and taps into our essential human core, can help break
those down. By bringing music to a public, unsuspecting place, all types of
people, even those who wouldn’t usually go to a musical jam, can experience the
power of creating and sharing together. This will hopefully leave passengers
feeling energized, connected, and more understanding of the beauty of being
human and creating art.