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  • Gus McAllibaster

    I know I'm super late in the discussion, but really love this project. Thank you for sharing it with us!
    I'd love to replicate this as part of The Big Ample Project: a venture to surprise and delight with impromptu gifts in New York's five boroughs (
    Do let me know when you're ready to spread the love!
    Best wishes to you in Georgia!

  • DooRocket

    I love it :) An amazing way to engage strangers & for them to share a little piece of themselves with you!

  • Gerondelis Ann

    Absolutely fabulous Dessa. Absolutely fabulous.

    • Dessa Lohrey

      Thanks Ann! It's good to hear from you and I hope you're doing well!

  • Stephen Good

    Apparently this form of communication is not trackable with the NSA. So if you see a group of armed thugs headed your way dressed up as SWAT, RUNNNNNN!!

  • Katy Daily

    A few years ago, a park bench not far from my neighborhood used to have a similar diary in it. It was so sweet reading what everyone was writing about themselves, but also the funny little comments that they'd leave along the margin for other entries. It's great to see this in more places!

  • Marina

    This is brilliant! It should be a movement! If anybody has ever been to The Alcove restaurant in Hollywood, CA, there is a table in the back with drawers stuffed with notes from strangers. It's always such a joy to go through them!

  • Cecilia Uhr

    Love this project!
    You should call it the Bench Press :P

    • Marina

      Bench Press. Heh. Heh. Good one! :)

    • Dessa Lohrey

      Thanks Ellen! I hope you're doing well!

  • Laurel Parker

    Many years ago, a boyfriend and I used to frequent a restaurant and often got seated next to a piece of furniture with a drawer in it. We decided to write a note and leave it in the drawer and see what happened. Next visit, we checked and, to our delight, found a response. We began an ongoing conversation, sometimes joined by a random person.

    And then we broke up and whenever I went, I'd still check, but I never saw another message there. It seems that when we broke up so did the mystery correspondants.

    • Dessa Lohrey

      I love your story, Laurel!

    • Richard Kish

      Your ex was was the mystery corespondent

      • Laurel Parker

        Yes, I considered that, and decided it didn't fit. I do think someone we may have mentioned it to did it though.

        • Tom Maybrier

          Great story Laurel, which restaurant was it? I love eating in Berkeley, so many great choices.

          • Laurel Parker

            It was on Solano, Tom, but like me, it's long gone from the area - Darn! You're right about the restaraunts. It's een a difficult 2o years away from such good eating, but we just (today!) bought a house near Asheville NC. It is, everyone tells us, and our extensive research bears out, impossible to find bad or even mediocre food in the Asheville area, and all of it is fresh and local.

            • Tom Maybrier

              Ah! Well I suppose I'll have to keep my eyes open for drawers the next time I'm out to eat - I'd love to try this for myself.

              Congrats on your new home - enjoy Asheville, I've heard great things.

  • Kristin Pedemonti

    we are desperate to connect; this illustrates that need beautifully. So simple and yet so profound. Often it is those seemingly simple things that make the biggest impact. Interested to see where this goes and how it further unfolds. Thank you for sharing! HUG!

    • Dessa Lohrey

      Thanks for sharing your insight, Kristin!

  • Jennifer Iacovelli

    I love this! It's amazing to see how open people are when given the random opportunity to share something. I think my favorite one is from the child though. Priceless.

    • Dessa Lohrey

      The entries written by children are by far my favorite too!

  • paul8

    You'll need to do more than 'tie it down' in London. Nice neighbours (neighbors) too.

  • Amy Bauer

    This is fantastic! I would love to do it in my city. Would be a great way for me to explore my new home and find out what my neighbors are thinking.

    • Dessa Lohrey

      Thanks Amy! Send me an email at and if you're interested in getting involved, I'll keep you posted on when I'm ready to send out diaries to people in other cities.

      • Amy Bauer

        Will do! Looking forward to getting involved.

      • Marina

        Ooh, count me in! I'd love to be part of the project! Will email you. :)

  • Cait Emma

    This is fantastic! I love the concept. I think the practice of writing is a great way to get at the heart of a community. I hope this spreads!

    • Dessa Lohrey

      Thanks Cait! I'm glad you dig the project!

  • Alessandra Rizzotti

    I love your project so much. I really want to do this in my city. I think my favorite types of pieces are the ones from kids and the timestamped posts. Knowing what people are experiencing at the time they write in the diary is so interesting- esp in a park setting.

    • Dessa Lohrey

      I bet the people of LA have lots of fascinating things on their minds!

      • Rodrigo Mejia

        The Alcove Cafe in Los Feliz has something like this (if you want to go check it out). There's an old wooden table there with drawers that used to be for storing chess pieces. A customer slid a handwritten note into one the empty drawers one day, and soon patrons started stuffing them with their own notes.

        Scott Gold of the L.A. Times wrote an excellent little piece on it some years ago:,0,5662595.story#axzz2qX7i6TJ1

        • Dove Pressnall

          I love reading the notes at The Alcove! Also, they have almond syrup to put in my latte...mmmm.

        • Laurel Parker

          Oh my goodness, I just wrote about doing this before reading all the comments! But our restaurant was in Berkeley.

    • Dessa Lohrey

      Thanks again for your support, Alessandra! I'm hoping to be able to revamp the website and send out diaries to people in other cities very soon. Until then, I'll keep you posted on the progress of the project!

      • Josh Steinmetz

        Wonderful idea!!! And I was most impressed by the comment of Kristin Pedemonti! What an insightful response. She is absolutely right! We are so desperate to connect in this age of cold and technologically driven communication. I am living in Guadalajara, México currently and came here 2 years ago to learn more, first hand, about our colorful and compassionate neighbors to the south. I will not be here for much longer and would like to see if I can initiate a Bench Diary in México. One thing I have confirmed from living in various parts of the world, a line from a "classic" movie (Buckaroo Banzai) that hasn't left my mind since hearing it in the 80s: "Don't be mean; we don't have to be mean, cuz, remember, NO MATTER WHERE YOU GO, THERE YOU ARE." It sounds simple but if everyone took on this mantra... imagine how different a place we could live in today. Compassion and communication are king!!! Love one another and seek out the truth.