What is crucial to understand is that this is all a question of politics: of who gets to shape our city – a handful of bureaucrats and capitalist investors, or the vast majority of a district’s inhabitants. It is this political question that frames the content and the outlook of urban space.
Henri Lefebvre, a French philosopher from the 20th century, argues that if ideas or values are not physically implemented in space, they become mere fantasies. As such, if degrowth wishes to prevail, it has to leave its mark on space, just as consumerism has successfully done. This article considers ideas of creating space and human-nature connectedness, which in combination, seem to be a perfect match in forming a strategy for degrowth.
There is a lot for us to do, and unless we have public space — unless we push back against all the ways that politicians at all levels try to privatize, monetize or securitize space — we can’t do the work of building a different kind of society and a different kind of world.
In a world that’s been increasingly paved over and privatized, it can be hard to find open places and spaces to gather. As Lucy Gomez-Feliciano of Logan Square Neighborhood Association says, many grassroots collectives have to operate as a “road show” – occupying whatever living room, church basement, library or community center they can find– or heading outside to organize.
In the individualistic society which is promoted by global capitalism, it’s a radical act to choose to live collectively. Sharing, be it space, food, or resources, has not been strongly promoted by those who want us to consume as much as possible…
The promise of our public spaces is the assurance that we can live well together, creating places that we can all enjoy and call our own.
What’s the difference between "public space" and "place"?
“In these times of ever more blatant marketing of public space, the aspiration to plant potatoes precisely there – and without restricting entry – is nothing less than revolutionary,” writes Sabine Rohlf in her book review of Urban Gardening.1 Indeed, we can observe the return of gardens to the city everywhere and see it as an expression of a changing relationship between the public and the private. And it is not only this dominant differentiation in modern society that is increasingly becoming blurred; the differences between nature and society as well as that between city and countryside are fading as well, at least from the perspective of urban community gardeners.