Public Spaces and People Power

photo of an acequia

An acequia, a community-owned irrigation canal typical of New Mexico. Photo credit.

I believe it is important that we collectively defend, celebrate, and expand the notion of the Commons. I was also struck by some ideas from an article on The Conversation, When the town square is online, power lies with the people.

In modern democracy, public spaces […] play a constant and fundamental democratic role if they are used correctly — not to stimulate bias, echo-chambers, […] but to allow users […] to freely, and on informed basis, deliberate, decide and act.

We can practice politics, organizing, communications, research, etc… (things that are in the public sphere) in such a way that feeds a biased echo-chamber, or we can strive to create something that empowers users to effect change. I am thinking of participatory research, tutorials, as well as how organizing materials like fact sheets have “an ask.”

Upper-crust and famous figures, homeless people, religious minorities, the elderly, school teachers, white-collar workers, account managers and students all have a right to a place in democratic consciousness. If we are not all represented, then we have removed the basic prerequisites for democratic debate — equality, freedom and mutual respect.

The common value of the public space is therefore a fundamental value for our democracy, […]

I love that. It is very Right to the City-ish. I am also reminded me of recent news stories where homeless people have been getting chased away by city governments. And, of course, net neutrality and the future of the internet is possibly the biggest public domain issue of the day.

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