tim devin

Street surveys

What do our neighbors think about where they live?

In early 2011, I was talking to some friends about whether my neighbors liked where we all lived. I decided the best way to find out was to just ask, so later that night, I started making some street surveys.

They're simple black and white signs that ask a single question about community. For instance, "Do you identify with where you live?" "Do you feel you have a say in local politics?" "Do you talk to your neighbors?"

Most have tabs with "yes" and "no" written on the bottom, so you can answer it by tearing off a slip of paper. Others have blank space for people to write down their thoughts. The idea is to get people thinking about important issues that we often ignore, while at the same time sharing these responses with anyone who happens to walk past.

They quickly proved to be popular both on the street and online. In fact, this project ended up going viral pretty quickly. People around the world downloaded the signs to use where they live, and the project eventually got a bit of international media attention. Not bad for a bunch of 8 1/2 by 11 sheets of paper taped to telephone poles!

A digital copy of each sign is available for free below, if you want to print them out and see what your neighbors think.

Location: Worldwide

Dates: 2011-2014

Learn more

Andrew Price. "Artist posts neighborhood surveys and infographics on the streets of Boston." San Francisco CA: GOOD Magazine. May 17, 2011.

The Callie Crossley Show. Boston MA: WGBH. June 13, 2011.

Emily Luce. "Change maker: Tim Devin." Lethbridge, Canada: Complex Social Change. April 24, 2014

Janelle Nanos. "Somerville street art." Boston MA: Boston Magazine. May 24, 2011.

Joshua Rothman. "Somerville's mystery posterer revealed." Boston MA: The Boston Globe. May 23, 2011.

Matt Byrne. "Somerville artist's fliers ask big questions of total strangers." Boston MA: Boston Globe. May 24, 2011.

Nicholas Ganz. Street Messages. Sweden: Dokument Press. 2015.

Ossigeno! Bologna, Italy: Radio Metropolitana. May 27, 2011.

Samantha Michaels. "Collective brush strokes: the community as the canvas: can art change the world?" Washington DC: The State of the Reunion. June 8, 2011.

Sebastian Campion. "Boston street surveys, infographics and poems." Copenhagen, Denmark: Guerrilla Innovation. May 17, 2011.

"Street artist? Demographer? Yes." Boston MA: Boston Egotist. May 2011.

Thom Fountain. "Doing neighborhoods right." Eau Claire WI: Volume One. Sept 21, 2014.


Download the signs to find out what your neighbors think!

"do you feel you have a say in local politics?"

"do you identify with where you live?"

"do you feel a sense of community where you live?"

"do you talk to your neighbors?"

"would you raise a kid around here?"

"i live nearby & i'm concerned about..."

"do you wish you knew your neighbors better?"