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?

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2 responses to “Forum A

  1. After reading Mitchell’s “The End of Public Space,” I feel that I agree with the way that Mitchell defines a public space. A public area is one that is free of control. “It was a political space that encouraged unmediated interaction, a place where the power of the state could be held at bay”(page 110). This is exactly what I think about when I imagine a public space. It is a place where anyone can go to do as they please whether that be walking through or sitting down and relaxing on a beautiful day. Whatever the choice may be, it is entirely up to that person and there are no judgments about who is allowed into the public area and who is not. Although these are my thoughts of what a public space is, in real life it is not the same. Sure it would be great if this was true but sadly it is not. There is always some force that has to be backing/running a public area because it must be maintained in one-way or another. This of course ties into the competing definitions and struggles over the public space. There are many different groups who have fought over People’s Park. On one side, there are the homeless people who see the park as their refuge. It is a free, public space where they can go without having any troubles. On the other hand, there is the University who owns the land and at one point wanted to make it into more living space for its students. Of course the two groups struggle against one another because if the dorms were to go up, the homeless would lose the closest thing they have to a home. The city is another side that is similar to the university in that it wants to take more control over the space, which in return would be taking away from the homeless people residing there. I think some important things to keep in mind while inquiring about public spaces is who uses the space, who controls the space-thus is it actually a public space- and how changing the space would affect those in the community. After reading this, Mitchell has caused me to question more about what is actually a public space. Although we all would like to believe it’s a place where people can be free to do what they please, rarely is that truly the case. There are always rules in one-way or another and there is no space where someone can completely let them self be free without some restrictions.

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