Terrace Watch by Lana Valente

Terrace Watch, as I’ve taken to calling it, was like a beautiful stakeout. I took an ethnography class my first year of college, and my experience during that semester helped me immensely this afternoon! I was able to record details I may not have noticed or otherwise discarded as irrelevant had I not had previous experience.

As it is, the terrace is a beautiful place, but it’s even lovelier when it’s occupied by people who are enjoying themselves. Veronica and I noted rearranged furniture on the terrace, compared to when we had last seen it. It was not scattered haphazardly. Rather, it looked like it was being used for gatherings, with chairs and tables situated together. It was good to see that the furniture was in use, and in a way, almost personified; in seeing the pieces together in pairs, it was almost as if the chairs people sit in reflect their friendships and the company they keep.

We noted people interacting with the area in different categories. When we arrived at the terrace, one man was pacing beside a woman, who was smoking. They sat together, enjoyed conversation, and generally looked comfortable.

Above the terrace, there were people who walked by without paying attention, but were otherwise distracted: they totaled about thirteen. There was a girl walking her dog, a girl texting, a group of friends, etc., so at the very beginning, I made a general rule that was later proved false: a common trend was that the people don’t study the terrace if they’re preoccupied with something else. As it turned out, however, around 28 people passed by the terrace, without distractions and without looking. Veronica and I concluded that either they’re familiar with the area and have already seen it, or they actually didn’t notice it at all.

About two people stopped above the terrace, but didn’t actually come down, and after the clock chimed at 4:00, the people on the terrace got up and left, but they stood at the top admiring the view for a bit longer. After, it was empty except for us. Around 4:30, a couple came down with their ice cream, but they only stayed for half a minute!

The table was in use, as well as the blackboard and some of the wood stools. The chairs were arranged in like a square. Bottles and other trash (even shoes!) were left behind by the people who were there earlier and/or others… Which means it’s in use for lunch at least, although people don’t take care of their garbage, which was disheartening, to say the least.

In my opinion, after this study, a few things could help bring some well-deserved attention to our terrace. A bright sign signaling its presence would alert it to more people—if they really don’t see it. If they do notice it, then enticing them with a street vendor could prove beneficial, or even a small, interactive garden like Orto Bello.

While the people on the terrace were interactive with their environment, either by way of observing the view or using the furniture and games provided, the people walking by were another story. Often, if there was no noise to draw their attention down below, they passed the terrace with barely a glance. It was unfortunate, because either they didn’t notice it, or they didn’t care.

These observations helped me to understand that the terrace is actually less popular than I initially believed– I was hoping that more people would be around to enjoy it! Perhaps it was the timing, but I’m confident that with a little more attention, the terrace cold become more widely used. Our observations also led me to believe that some advertisement (a colorful street painting or sign) would do wonders for publicity; for those who are walking without a destination, the terrace is a great stop. It’s only a matter of showing the public that this is so.

(Pictured: lunch on the terrace, people interacting! Finds from Oct. 9, 2017.)

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