Friday, October 26, 2012

Creating Community in our Public Spaces

One of the characteristics of a Great Public Space as defined by the Project for Public Spaces is:

 Does the space encourage communication or interaction between strangers?

In Chelsea our outdoor public spaces with  children's playgrounds, dog runs and basketball courts  encourage communication or interaction between strangers for the populations that participate in these activities. The majority of our public spaces and their uses  do not fulfill this function.

Simple Low Cost, small space solutions to this issue:

 The following activities promote Community between strangers
Ping Pong Tables
Board games
Card Games

Signage that says:
Seeking activities partners for...
Anybody interested in a game of .... join me here at...
games Volunteers
While visiting  Bryant Park  I learned that the fellow in charge of the board games would play a board game with you, if no partner was available

...But college union professionals know that people bond while waiting for elevators and gab in stairwells. They may talk while drying their hands in the restrooms. People will even stand and hold a conversation in the middle of a doorway, blocking other people from engaging in proper locomotion. People may attend a formal meeting in a dedicated space, but then engage in deeper communication with the same people on the same topics once they leave the meeting room and linger in the hallway. Since our mission is to build community, we need to optimize the spaces where self-organizing occurs in between official points of production. -link

Neighborhoods with great sidewalks may not need as many parks as those without.
Although sidewalks are not given much thought by park advocates, good ones actually
serve some of the same “people-to-people sociability functions” as parks and plazas
(Harnik, 2010, p. 40). Like parks, good sidewalks have benches and great shade providing
trees. Parks obviously offer much more than sidewalks, but the latter have the
major advantages of being closer to home and often feeling safer
-Urban Green