[NetBehaviour] Public space and the commons in post-Corona worlds

Helen Varley Jamieson helen at creative-catalyst.com
Sun May 17 11:15:10 CEST 2020

hi gretta & all,

public spaces in dunedin were pretty empty during the level 4 lockdown
period, & those who were in them were being very good about keeping way
more than 2 metres of space between others. most people here have
gardens, & i've noticed how much more public parks are used in cities
where most people live in apartments. we're a bit spoilt here.

at the supermarket a whole section of the carpark got roped off to make
the queue of 2-metre-separated single shoppers waiting to go in - nice
to see people get precendence over cars for a change.

in a similar people-over-cars move, the city council has just voted for
a temporary speed limit of 10kph on the main street - supposedly to
allow pedestrians to safely step into the road when they need to in
order to maintain the 2 metre distance. there is a big fight going on
between those who want to pedestrianise the main shopping street (which
seems like a no-brainer to me) and those who think that shoppers need to
be able to drive their cars right up to the shops otherwise the
businesses will die ... & this latter group is now screaming that the
temporary 10k limit is "pedestrianisation by stealth!"

now that the restrictions are relaxing here, people are flooding back to
public places, & it feels weirdly crowded (even though it isn't at all
crowded, compared to most of the rest of the world). there's a different
awareness of public places - both wanting to be there because it was
partially forbidden, but also heightened awareness of the risks of
shared public space. eg people using their elbows, feet, bags etc to
press the pedestrian crossing button.

h : )

On 15.05.20 02:09, Gretta Louw via NetBehaviour wrote:
> Hi everyone,
> Hope you’re all continuing to hang in there during these wildly
> unsettling times and finding ways to prioritise wellbeing.
> I have a project coming up in Munich this summer (the one thing that
> is not cancelled!) and since the topics I’m engaging with have been
> regularly brought up on Netbehaviour I wanted to share some material
> with you all and see if anyone has some input for me, too…
> The project is a commission for a rather admirable annual series of
> ephemeral artworks in public space in Munich, Germany. My initial
> proposal was to do a kind of anti-advertising advertising campaign
> using billboards in public space to dig into the erosion of public
> space through commercialisation and privatisation. But since the
> lockdowns have hit (and the accompanying collapse of commercialisation
> in daily life) I’ve shifted to thinking more about the ways that
> public space are used when capitalism is suspended, which also leads
> to thinking about more hopeful speculations on the public space and
> green space we would want in a more ideal future.
> Basically, if shopping malls and high streets are closed, the parks
> are full. The problem, obviously, isn’t that there’s too many people
> but rather that there’s too little public space. This shift reveals
> more starkly truths we already knew about the socially stratified
> access to space. The less private space you own, the more you need
> public space. The more you need public space, often, the less access
> you have to it. In the last few months we’ve seen ‘hoarding’ (or, as
> the Germans charmingly call it, ‘hamstering’) of basics like toilet
> paper, flour, and yeast - but the green and leafy neighbourhoods of
> the wealthy have been hoarding public space for centuries.
> I’ve got a collection of links here for people who might be interested. 
>   * https://www.daphnedragona.net/projects/mapping-the-commons 
>   * https://gehlpeople.com/blog/public-space-plays-vital-role-in-pandemic/ 
>   * https://www.riai.ie/whats-on/news/adapting-our-urban-environments-to-covid-19 
>   * http://spacing.ca/toronto/2020/05/02/lessons-of-urban-mobility-and-inequality-during-a-pandemic/ 
>   * https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/editorials/article-no-torontos-problem-isnt-too-many-people-going-outside-its-too/ 
>   * https://www.politico.eu/article/helped-on-by-the-coronavirus-covid19-brussels-battles-its-car-culture/ 
>   * https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/apr/22/lockdown-coronavirus-crisis-right-to-roam *** 
>   * http://historyofpublicspace.uk/ 
>   * https://landforthemany.uk/ 
> I’d really appreciate it if anyone has some other links to articles
> they think I should read - perhaps we can build a bit of a shared
> library of resources about public space, the commons and how it
> relates to post-Corona living. And I’d appreciate it even more if
> you’d briefly share your thoughts about how the use of public space
> has changed, or what ‘message in a bottle’ you’d like to send to the
> public about how to reimagine or reclaim public space. Both online and
> offline! Although I must admit that I am currently working from the
> understanding that all truly public space is offline.
> Would love to hear from you!
> All my best,
> Gretta
> _______________________________________________
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> NetBehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org
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helen varley jamieson

helen at creative-catalyst.com <mailto:helen at creative-catalyst.com>

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