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Give 'Em Enough Rope - to Hang Some Swings

Give Reuben Pressman and Hunter Payne enough rope and they'll put up a swing for you, pretty much anywhere you want - and some places you never even thought of!

But now the pair of students behind Swings Tampa Bay need some help from the public - they're literally running out of rope just as they're planning to take their show on the road.


I first profiled Pressman and Payne for University Beat in 2011, shortly after they developed Swings Tampa Bay. The two had met at USF St. Petersburg, where they created the concept as a class project.

They'd cut wood into swings, paint them with fun designs and then hang them in public places with the hope of creating an instant gathering spot for a community. They also opened it up to the public, letting people paint swings they could either take home and hang themselves or leave for Pressman and Payne to put up.

Credit Swings Tampa Bay
In a photo from 2011, Swings Tampa Bay creator Reuben Pressman plays on a swing on a billboard on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg

In about two years, they've hung almost 150 hand-painted swings around the Bay area in both likely and unlikely places -- you have just as good a chance at seeing a swing in a public park as you do seeing one hanging from a billboard alongside a major street.

Pressman has since graduated from USFSP and become what he calls a 'social entrepreneur,' while Payne dropped out of school to follow his dream of becoming an artist.

The two have kept Swings Tampa Bay alive, and are planning on hanging swings along their route when they head off to Black Mountain SOLE, a new alternative school in North Carolina they've been invited to teach at.

But there's just one problem:

"We still have like 600 swings to hang and we're just really, really low on rope," according to Pressman. "So we want to be able to have a stockpile of rope so that we can hang swings along the way."

While donations of rope would be appreciated, cash would work better. According to their "Swing Break" tour webpage, they're about a third of the way to the goal of getting $500.

As for concerns that people they encounter on their trip might not understand what they're doing, Payne isn't that concerned.

"We're not worried about it," he said. "We're more excited than anything to keep spreading love and keep hanging swings and just keep our mission of spontaneous community-building going."

Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.
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