Sunday, March 23, 2014

Community Spaces & Local Gathering Spaces

We do not need meaningless plazas  containing  a handful of benches. " 
-Chelsea Resident 1968 

I suspect the new Plazas of Far West Chelsea will be meaningless plazas.

Manhattan West
What do meaningful ones's look like?

Share-It Square
A visit to the corner of Southeast Ninth and Sherett Avenue in Portland, Oregon provides a thriving example of how urban architectural form can promote a sharing environment. This otherwise ordinary intersection - now playfully known as Share-It Square - is a grassroots attempt to take a banal urban condition and transform it into a lively commons. Several structures were created by area residents in a spontaneous work party during the summer of 1996.

One structure holds an open-invitation, serve-yourself tea station. Another contains a children’s clubhouse with games and a constant supply of multicolored sidewalk chalk. A community bulletin board and free produce stand - the local favorite - beckon visitors to another corner. People from blocks away, as well as the immediate area, understand that when you take vegetables from the stand you leave other produce in their place.


Share-It Square is located in Portland's Sellwood neighborhood. Looking to create a community gathering place, residents turned an intersection into their own public square. They painted a geometric design based on an indigenous symbol for gathering and peace in the center of the intersection to define the space. Share-It Square also has installed on the street corners: a community bulletin board and chalkboard; a food-sharing stand; a kids' playhouse; and a 24-hour tea station – a thermos with tea cups and tea; neighbors take turns keeping it supplied with hot water and tea.

What Makes Share-It Square a Great Place?

Share-It Square is located in the heart of a residential neighborhood, blocks from any main street. Thus, it provides a much-needed and well-used focus for community identity and gathering.

After installation of Share-It Square, organizers surveyed their neighbors and found that an overwhelming majority (over 85% in each case) felt that crime had decreased, traffic had slowed, and communication between neighbors had improved.  link