Consumption

Community spaces

In order to re-connect with and build community, public spaces are needed in which people can openly and freely assemble, mingle, and interact face-to-face. Unfortunately, those kinds of public spaces are becoming scarce as corporations increasingly dominate the built environment. Here are some ways to literally create space for community.

Community spaces Actions
Start a public market.
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Start a public market.

Public markets are year-round, permanent spaces where local businesses can rent stalls or tables. By building public markets, we can create affordable places for entrepreneurs to sell goods, test concepts, and connect with customers, and add to the economic and cultural vibrancy of town centers.

Take action

Get inspired

  • Great Public Markets, a list by the Project for Public Spaces, shares examples of thriving public markets from Benin to Brazil to Belgium. 
  • The Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne, Australia is home to more than 600 small businesses across 17 acres of market space.

Start a public market.

Public markets are year-round, permanent spaces where local businesses can rent stalls or tables. By building public markets, we can create affordable places for entrepreneurs to sell goods, test concepts, and connect with customers, and add to the economic and cultural vibrancy of town centers.

Take action

Get inspired

  • Great Public Markets, a list by the Project for Public Spaces, shares examples of thriving public markets from Benin to Brazil to Belgium. 
  • The Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne, Australia is home to more than 600 small businesses across 17 acres of market space.
Reclaim abandoned and vacant spaces.
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Reclaim abandoned and vacant spaces.

Cities and towns contain significant amounts of abandoned and often abused land that lies idle and vacant. If communities organize to gain legal access and tenure to these plots, they can transform them into vibrant food gardens and community spaces that will benefit current and future generations.

Get started

Get inspired

  • The Homegrown Minneapolis Garden Lease Program in Minneapolis, US allows nonprofits to rent vacant city-owned land for one dollar per year.
  • The CountyDigs program in Multnomah County, Oregon, US, donates foreclosed properties to organizations starting community gardens.
  • Community groups in Athens, Greece, responded to the 2008 economic crisis by transforming abandoned spaces into collective kitchens, community parks, and more.
  • Lots of Food in Louisville, Kentucky, US, has transformed 5 contiguous vacant lots into a 1/3 acre market garden and orchard.
  • Alleycat Acres in Seattle, US, transforms undeveloped streets into community gardens, and installs edible walking trails along public corridors and "farmlets" in parking strips across the city.

Reclaim abandoned and vacant spaces.

Cities and towns contain significant amounts of abandoned and often abused land that lies idle and vacant. If communities organize to gain legal access and tenure to these plots, they can transform them into vibrant food gardens and community spaces that will benefit current and future generations.

Get started

Get inspired

  • The Homegrown Minneapolis Garden Lease Program in Minneapolis, US allows nonprofits to rent vacant city-owned land for one dollar per year.
  • The CountyDigs program in Multnomah County, Oregon, US, donates foreclosed properties to organizations starting community gardens.
  • Community groups in Athens, Greece, responded to the 2008 economic crisis by transforming abandoned spaces into collective kitchens, community parks, and more.
  • Lots of Food in Louisville, Kentucky, US, has transformed 5 contiguous vacant lots into a 1/3 acre market garden and orchard.
  • Alleycat Acres in Seattle, US, transforms undeveloped streets into community gardens, and installs edible walking trails along public corridors and "farmlets" in parking strips across the city.
Create a space for community events.
Expand Action
Create a space for community events.

Vibrant communities are often home to live theater and music, film screenings, art shows, lectures, public discussions and celebrations. At the same time, community groups and civic organizations also need space for meetings and events. If there is no local venue where these can happen – or if the only venues available are prohibitively expensive – community vitality will suffer. Creating such public spaces is therefore an important part of community-building.

Take action

  • If you are part of an organization that has empty rooms or gathering places available, offer them to the public for community events.
  • In many cities and towns there are buildings – churches, train stations, warehouses, mills, etc. – that are no longer needed for their original purpose. Join with others in the community to approach your local government about creating public spaces from those buildings.
  • Learn more about how to create public spaces from the Project for Public Spaces training, Placemaking: Making it Happen. The course provides an introduction to placemaking principles for interested members of the public as well as local government representatives.

Get inspired

  • The community nonprofit Building a Local Economy (BALE) transformed an empty storefront in South Royalton, Vermont, in the US, into The Commons – an event space that is free and open to the public. The space is regularly used for classes, music jams, receptions, film screenings, art exhibitions and more.
  • The Belgian city of Ghent purchased a beautiful but deconsecrated church in a low-income neighborhood and turned it into a public resource. Part of the plan is to give citizens access to the building for their own projects up to 12 times a year. Read about it in this article from URBACT, a program of the European Union.

Create a space for community events.

Vibrant communities are often home to live theater and music, film screenings, art shows, lectures, public discussions and celebrations. At the same time, community groups and civic organizations also need space for meetings and events. If there is no local venue where these can happen – or if the only venues available are prohibitively expensive – community vitality will suffer. Creating such public spaces is therefore an important part of community-building.

Take action

  • If you are part of an organization that has empty rooms or gathering places available, offer them to the public for community events.
  • In many cities and towns there are buildings – churches, train stations, warehouses, mills, etc. – that are no longer needed for their original purpose. Join with others in the community to approach your local government about creating public spaces from those buildings.
  • Learn more about how to create public spaces from the Project for Public Spaces training, Placemaking: Making it Happen. The course provides an introduction to placemaking principles for interested members of the public as well as local government representatives.

Get inspired

  • The community nonprofit Building a Local Economy (BALE) transformed an empty storefront in South Royalton, Vermont, in the US, into The Commons – an event space that is free and open to the public. The space is regularly used for classes, music jams, receptions, film screenings, art exhibitions and more.
  • The Belgian city of Ghent purchased a beautiful but deconsecrated church in a low-income neighborhood and turned it into a public resource. Part of the plan is to give citizens access to the building for their own projects up to 12 times a year. Read about it in this article from URBACT, a program of the European Union.
Create a community coworking space.
Expand Action
Create a community coworking space.

Modern workplaces often cut us off from each other and the outside world in the name of "efficiency" and "productivity." Coworking spaces break down many of those barriers, while providing affordable shared spaces for small local businesses. But like many aspects of the sharing economy, this idea has been co-opted by multinational companies that try to cash in on remote work trends. The resources below are about people at the grassroots coming together to design and share mutually beneficial spaces.

Take action

  • The Hoffice Movement, started in Sweden, helped people arrange gatherings to work, network, eat, socialize, exercise and more – simply by establishing group offices in members’ living rooms and kitchens. At its peak, there were more than 2000 groups worldwide.
  • For those who need more space, the article Is Your Community Ready for Coworking? from Shareable offers stories and advice for building community coworking spaces outside of the home. 

Get inspired

  • The Edventure Hub in Frome, UK is an excellent example of a shared workspace and community center. It was started by young adults in the Edventure Frome community enterprise program. 
  • The Totnes REconomy Project in the UK set up a coworking space, the Totnes REconomy Centre, to create a place for new economic relationships to grow.

Create a community coworking space.

Modern workplaces often cut us off from each other and the outside world in the name of "efficiency" and "productivity." Coworking spaces break down many of those barriers, while providing affordable shared spaces for small local businesses. But like many aspects of the sharing economy, this idea has been co-opted by multinational companies that try to cash in on remote work trends. The resources below are about people at the grassroots coming together to design and share mutually beneficial spaces.

Take action

  • The Hoffice Movement, started in Sweden, helped people arrange gatherings to work, network, eat, socialize, exercise and more – simply by establishing group offices in members’ living rooms and kitchens. At its peak, there were more than 2000 groups worldwide.
  • For those who need more space, the article Is Your Community Ready for Coworking? from Shareable offers stories and advice for building community coworking spaces outside of the home. 

Get inspired

  • The Edventure Hub in Frome, UK is an excellent example of a shared workspace and community center. It was started by young adults in the Edventure Frome community enterprise program. 
  • The Totnes REconomy Project in the UK set up a coworking space, the Totnes REconomy Centre, to create a place for new economic relationships to grow.
Create a resilience hub.
Expand Action
Create a resilience hub.

In normal times, a Resilience Hub is a place where community residents, businesses, and organizations can gather for workshops, events, meals, classes and other community needs. But it is also a place where a community can plan for, respond to, and recover from both "natural" and man-made disasters without depending entirely on centralized government efforts.

Take Action

  • The Resilience We Want: A guide to making your community space into a hub for local resilience and mutual aid, by Shareable, offers a workbook for forming a working group to turn a community space into a hub for sustainable, inclusive disaster preparedness and response.  
  • The guide is a companion to The Response, Shareable’s documentary film, book, and podcast with worldwide case studies of building collective resilience in post-disaster situations. 
  • The Guide to Developing Resilience Hubs, from resilience-hubs.org, offers comprehensive instructions for creating community centers that can help meet neighborhood residents’ basic needs during and after disasters. Based in the US, but applicable worldwide. 
  • As with other localization initiatives, the success of any resilience hub project will depend on the strength of trust and relationships in your community – so building connection is the most important first step. 
     

    Get inspired

  • Japan’s disaster parks are an example of building community resilience hubs into public infrastructure. This NextCity article describes them.   
  • The Commons at Building a Local Economy (BALE), normally a public space open for event hosting, is functioning as a resilience hub during the coronavirus pandemic.

Create a resilience hub.

In normal times, a Resilience Hub is a place where community residents, businesses, and organizations can gather for workshops, events, meals, classes and other community needs. But it is also a place where a community can plan for, respond to, and recover from both "natural" and man-made disasters without depending entirely on centralized government efforts.

Take Action

  • The Resilience We Want: A guide to making your community space into a hub for local resilience and mutual aid, by Shareable, offers a workbook for forming a working group to turn a community space into a hub for sustainable, inclusive disaster preparedness and response.  
  • The guide is a companion to The Response, Shareable’s documentary film, book, and podcast with worldwide case studies of building collective resilience in post-disaster situations. 
  • The Guide to Developing Resilience Hubs, from resilience-hubs.org, offers comprehensive instructions for creating community centers that can help meet neighborhood residents’ basic needs during and after disasters. Based in the US, but applicable worldwide. 
  • As with other localization initiatives, the success of any resilience hub project will depend on the strength of trust and relationships in your community – so building connection is the most important first step. 
     

    Get inspired

  • Japan’s disaster parks are an example of building community resilience hubs into public infrastructure. This NextCity article describes them.   
  • The Commons at Building a Local Economy (BALE), normally a public space open for event hosting, is functioning as a resilience hub during the coronavirus pandemic.
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