Forum A

After reading Mitchell’s “The End of Public Space,” how would you define public space?  What are the competing definitions and struggles over public space that Mitchell discusses?  What do you think the most important points are from this essay that we should keep in mind as we begin to inquire into the public spaces around us?  What did Mitchell’s essay make you think about that you hadn’t really thought about before?

4 responses to “Forum A

  1. I would define public space as any area in which is free for all public to go to and to use however they desire within the extent of the law. I agree that the park should not be run by drug dealers and criminals but it should also not be completely controlled and kept from certain public, such as the homeless. It should be shared by the college to the public, because I believe that is what a true public space should be. I liked how he discussed where public space has led back to the Greek with it’s main function being, “the place of citizenship, an open space where public affairs and legal disputes were conducted…and also a marketplace.” (pg. 116) He also discussed that this “public space” was also a place of exclusion. There was a certain “public” that was allowed to be in the space, being those with “power and respectability” (pg. 116) This seems to be the same case in the park, also. There are certain people that they want to allow in the park. For UC, it is the students and to get all the homeless people out so that they feel safe. They are taking certain parts of the public and trying to exclude them. As I said, I believe that there should be no crime within the park, but the park is the homeless’ home and when the police started needlessly resorted to heavy violence in 1991. It seems as though there has always been public space and it has always been important to society, but there has always been some sort of selections made in regarding who to let use this public space. I believe that public space should be completely free, and as long as you are within and following the law, you should be able to use the space without any prejudice or interruption.

  2. After reading Mitchell’s “Then End of Public Space,” I feel that public space in America is never free, it is always monitored or owned by someone who has power. I’ve been to many countries before and their use of public space and is quite different from ours. I feel that this article is a rude awakening because I always felt that people in America have little to no interaction with one another in public spaces compared with other countries. When I step out from the airport in Taiwan there are many things going on whereas in America it’s a open space and untouched land with “no trespassing” signs everywhere. We tend to privatize and “disneyfy” (Mitchell, 119) space in capitalist America.
    Mitchell discusses two competing definitions of public space: representational space and representations of space (Mitchell, 115). Mitchell explains that representational space is a space that is used and lived in with no symbolic exclusion for people; all is invited. Representation of space is a controlled and planned wants that wants order from participants in that area. During the incident at People’s Park, the area was a representational space for the public into a controlled environment authorized by the UC-City Agreement. The struggles during this specific occasion let us see that this is a social conflict in which those with power felt that “People’s Park was a space that had to be reclaimed and redefined for “an appropriate public” suggesting that the homelessness is in a sense are “illegitimate users,” (Mitchell, 110).
    I think one of the most important thing that we should keep in mind is that the issue of space and human territorial needs are timeless. It is not only the act of powerful people who can do whatever they want but a major player in the conflict was an educational institution (not to mention one of the most prestigious in the country) who wanted to advocated “proper citizenship” without considering consequences. Society respects Berkeley and their politicians, and they felt it was their duty to purge the park for people of status.
    Another important points that Mitchell talks about is utilizing the media and new technology as a marketing tool to sell a commodity or a view point. Mitchell talks about the “electronic future” (Mitchell, 123) and provides examples about how it can be used for propaganda as well as to rally people with the same interests. This comes to a disadvantage to the homeless because they do not possess those high-tech electronics. Without communication devices, they are not considered “public” people. He then argues that the event that happened at People’s Park violated our democratic system. We need to learn from Mitchell that although a small issue like can occur anywhere, it is important to consider the big picture and see the symbolic meaning that can affect the whole of society.
    I liked how Mitchell tied in the 1991 People’s Park incident to his view on contemporary public space today. It has not change much at all. I believe it is tied into our culture. He states that “corporate and state planners have created environments that are bided on desires for security rather than interaction,” thus creating “dead space” (Mitchell 119). His essay sympathizes with the homeless. This article reminds me of the time I watched a show on the Travel Channel called “Meet the Natives,” a show about a group of indigenous men from an island in the Pacific who never seen modern civilizations. The men visited New York City and questioned, Why are there so many homeless on the streets when there are so many buildings around? This is an issue I feel makes it unpleasant to live in America because society is built around exclusion even though we are considered a one of the most desirable countries to live in. I enjoyed reading Mitchells essay because he pinpointed why I felt a sense of warmth and welcome more in other countries than here in America. The aura is completely different and it is because with wealth and economic power comes greed and desire to maintain that power.

  3. I had not thought about the fact, at least not in detail, that public space needs to be and is indeed managed by somebody, who, if the space is truly public, would be government officials; and furthermore, since these officials are theoretically representative, in the end it is we, the people, the polity who manage public spaces. But, as is mentioned in Mitchell as well, this is not entirely true as public spaces are increasingly becoming private, either due to joint efforts between state and the corporate world, or the phenomenon known as “corporate government”, or the increasing tendency to use immaterial spaces, such as the Internet. This I believe is a very scary and important point to keep in mind.
    Of the two competing definitions mentioned in Mitchell –public space as a place of “unconstrained space within which political movements can organize and expand into wider areas”, or of “unmediated interaction”, and public space as a “controlled and orderly retreat where a properly behaved public might experience the spectacle of the city” (Mitchell, 115) – I am more inclined to favor the former rather than the latter, but it all depends on the details. Nothing can be unmediated. We live in a society that has laws and principles of conduct, and, in this sense, I agree with the second definition in terms of the usage of public space, that it is limited. Additionally, I disagree that public space is necessarily one in which political discourse takes place; that the polity may wish and thus use it for that purpose is accidental, and not what makes public space public. In my view, public space is public because it is not owned by any particular person or group of persons that is not the set of all citizens, which means that nobody and everybody has authority over it. It is in this sense that public space is truly democratic, for what is done with and in the public space is a question of what the majority want. This should not be conflictive, however, as democracy often is, because there is enough space to create places of the liking for all.
    Initially, as I read about the People’s Park issue, it seemed to me that there were several points of contention that were either confused or outright ignored:
    1. The City of San Francisco must take a stand on either one of the following three options:
    (1) Buy the property back from the University.
    (2) Continue to allow the space to be private and thus dealt with accordingly.
    (3) Simply take the land away from the University, either by court favor or force.
    2. If (1), the City should accommodate the space for all, obviously including the homeless, for they are true representatives of a capitalist community, and even including the petty drug dealers, for they would not exist in the community if they did not represent it, or its members, in some way or other, something a capitalist mind should easily understand if familiar with the terms supply and demand. (The legality of what they supply is subject of a different discussion.)
    If (2), as far as I understand private property and Capitalism, the University should be left alone in doing what it wants with the space, insofar as they are within legal boundaries.
    If (3), what follows is much like (1).
    3. The homeless problem is not one annexed to that of the Park, it is a problem of the City, the County, the State, and the Country, in that order; it is a problem that arise from the system, and, I assume, in some cases, from the poor choices made by the individuals in question. Yet, even in the latter case, it is still a consequence of the system.
    All this, if what is being discussed is the punctual issue regarding People’s Park. Taking a step further backward, such that we adopt a wider scope of the underlying factors of the issue, we might say that private property, Capitalism, libertarian forms of liberalism as well as utilitarian forms of liberalism pose a serious indeed grave threat to social justice and freedom. This may sound ironic, at the very least, if not contradictory in the minds of those who only loosely, and in much a convoluted way, understand these terms/concepts, ideologies, and social, economic and political theoretical systems. Nonetheless, it is what I opine.
    As a final remark, and much in the spirit of what has been said, Mitchell makes a strong point regarding the marginalization of the homeless from public activity, from the polity itself, based on their “inappropriate” albeit necessary activities they perform in public, which ban them from inclusion and voice, a double edge sword for them in this case. For they do not perform these activities by choice, but rather, I will assume, as a necessary last resort, and thus are excluded for actions that they obviously cannot help but perform in public. However well this point is taken, and however important it is pragmatically, by analyzing and evaluating their inclusion/exclusion by whatever forces involved in a particular instance, Mitchell does little in the form of accusation and or treatment of the underlying cause of their situation, namely, the social, economic and political system itself, independent of the People’s Park issue. I suppose he lacks doing this so as to not stray from the central theme that is discussed in his essay, i.e., the nature of public space and the many transformations that it has endured throughout history as well as those that are taking place right now.

  4. диета свищ прямой кишкисчастливая диетасупы на кремлевской диетедиета при беремености седьмой месяцлисса мусса диетапохудение при ходьбе на тренажереканделаки села на диетуэкспресс диета аниты цойсережка для похудения от мухинойможно ли похудеть принимая галстенасписок продуктов для низко углеводной диетычай из цветов персика для похудениязаговоры от похудениядиета 5 при панкреотитедиета с заменителем питаниясколько можно калорий наберать в день чтобы похудетьвыраженные низкокалорийные диетыульяна цейтлина диетадиета на кефире минус кгв каком возрасте долина похудела

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