Human beings are social animals and not inherently unfriendly; most welcome a smile or a friendly hello. This tends to happen in villages and small towns because individual people are more likely to recognise each other. But attitudes are different in medium-sized and larger urban environments, such as Cambridge, where there may be more suspicion or concern about talking to strangers. Despite this, “triggers” – such as a dog on a lead, a baby in a pushchair, or being in a wheel chair or wearing a clerical collar – do encourage social interaction.
Cambridge Rotary Club’s MESSHing project (Make Eye contact, Smile, & Say Hello) aims to transform attitudes in Cambridge by providing “the trigger” – MESSHing itself is a word which sounds like coming together.