Moderator of panel “Mowed Over: Community Governance of Public Space” at Maintainers III: Policy, Practice and Care conference October 7-9 in Washington, D.C. More information available here.
The goal of this workshop is to create a conversation among policy makers, activists and researchers about the different ways communities take on maintenance and stewardship responsibilities for open spaces in cities. Although upwards of 90% of the cost of open space is in maintenance, and only 10% on initial construction, cities struggle to find funding for ongoing care. In recent decades cities have turned to communities and private entities to take on this work. This has been organized through a variety of mechanisms–everything from park advisory councils and friends groups to land trusts, privately operated public places and conservancies. How are those relationships organized, funded and enforced? What are the benefits and pitfalls of shifting maintenance responsibilities from the public to perform key open space functions? In this workshop we will begin with a brief presentation exploring the nuances of several different approaches to open space maintenance through real life examples from across the country. Then through a small group activity we will create our own community based governance models for an imagined scenario. This activity is designed to facilitate explorations of the relationship between open space maintenance and other sectors such as economic and community development, mental health and education. In the shift to community responsibility we shift from treating open space maintenance as a simple means to an end and begin to see open space maintenance as a means to tackle other problems and provide opportunities (local jobs, sense of place, social cohesion, youth programs, etc). Our hope is to lay out the possibility for innovation in the open space maintenance sector. It also brings to the fore the millions of community-based volunteers and staff who participate in the maintenance of urban landscape is a daily/weekly practice.
Policy makers, activists and researchers interested in delving into the nuances of the policy tools used to organize communities maintenance of public places.
Key Learning Objectives
Our goal is first to understand the benefits/pitfalls and actors involved in different ways communities take on maintenance and stewardship responsibilities for open spaces in cities. Second, through the hands on exercise, we hope to use the cross-disciplinary opportunity to better understand the relationship between open space maintenance and other sectors as well as exploring new strategies for organizing localized maintenance.
25 minutes presentation of case studies followed by 25 minutes governance design exercise and report back.