“Subway Therapy Boston” began as a last-minute project in two subway stations this month, following a nasty election. It was a chance for passersby to put their busy lives on hold, share positive thoughts by writing them on Post-It notes, and stick them to the tiled walls for commuters to read.
But the concept attracted more people than Venita Subramanian had initially expected. Each of the two events that she hosted with the help of volunteers led to the walls being splashed with colorful squares of paper that broadcast inspiring mantras and quotes.
“I stopped counting them after awhile,” said Subramanian. “I did not expect the response that we had.”
Now Subramanian is bringing the project online, so more people can look to the notes for an uplifting message. Last week, she launched a website, SubwayTherapyBoston.org, where each of the roughly 2,500 Post-Its is being archived.
“We can share it with a larger audience,” said Subramanian, who is originally from the United Arab Emirates. “The whole goal is to increase and archive as many as possible, especially the ones that we think are going to make people feel supported and inspired.”
Subway Therapy Boston was influenced by a guerrilla art project held in New York City’s subway immediately following Republican Donald J. Trump’s shocking victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton for the presidency.
Subramanian held the first event at Park Street Station Nov. 11, with the blessing of the MBTA Transit Police. Hundreds of people showed up, and at the end of the night, Subramanian collected the anonymous notes and tucked them away. She hosted a second event at the Harvard Station a few days later. Again, many people participated.
Subramanian has no plans to host another gathering. But she has been meticulously uploading the yellow, pink, green, and blue notes to her website.
The messages, written in marker, range from emotional to quirky. One note posted online shows a stick-figure person riding on a skateboard. Beneath the drawing it says “Keep it radical.”
Another quotes Hillary Clinton. A third praises Boston for being a city worth living in.
Some are brief and to the point: “I vow to speak up in the name of peace and love.” Others are crammed with words or span two sticky notes to get the message across.
All of them, Subramanian hopes, will soon be available to the public. Then, she said, she will move on to some new project.
“It’s a simple community engagement project that can have an impact on someone’s life,” said Subramanian of Subway Therapy Boston. “At the end of the day we all have a responsibility — we need to do more inside the community. And that’s what I want people to get out of this.”