On the Commons

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Public Spaces and Public Life

Public space is a literal commons—the common ground where people come together as friends, neighbors, and citizens. Places we share together—parks, streets, sidewalks, squares, trails, markets, waterfronts, beaches, museums, community gardens, public buildings, and more—are the primary sites for human exchange, upon which our communities, economy, democracy, and society depend.

On the Commons helps everyone protect, promote, and expand the public spaces in their own communities, and enhance the spirit of public life.

The Fall and Rise of Great Public Spaces

August 5, 2012 | by Jay Walljasper

Why we need parks, streetlife, squares, markets, trails, community gardens and other hang outs more than ever


It's All Happening at the Park

January 8, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

More than ever, we need common ground where all kinds of people can interact, learn and have fun

The Great American Neighborhood

September 10, 2012 | By Jay Walljasper

Welcome to Jacobsburg, which offers inspiring lessons in how to create a great community.

Low-income People Need Public Spaces the Most

August 12, 2012 | By Jay Walljasper

Parks, squares, sidewalks, transit, schools and community centers are commons that can be used by all

From Middle East to Wall Street, Justice Depends on Public Spaces

June 25, 2012 | By Jay Walljasper

What happens when people have no place to gather as citizens?

Why Don't We Do It in the Road?

June 24, 2012 | By Jay Walljasper

The surprising absence of pedestrian streets in North America-- and what Calgary can show us

Let Us Now Praise Vacant Lots

June 9, 2012 | By Jay Walljasper

Commoners work to keep these vital places in the public realm

Every Neighborhood Needs a Commons

April 24, 2012 | By Jay Walljasper

Beloved Commons That Are Not Actually Commons

November 30, 2011 | By Jay Walljasper

Support your favorite local, independent shops

Changing the World One Block at a Time

October 29, 2011 | By Jay Walljasper

The neighborhood is a powerful—but often overlooked—tool for social improvement

The Architect Has No Clothes

October 15, 2011 | By Michael Mehaffy & Nikos A. Salingaros

Why so much modern design looks harsh and feels inhospitable


Thank Your Local Placemaker

August 15, 2013 | By Holly Bechiri

An innovative idea for thanking those who make our neighborhoods great

How to Design Our World for Happiness

July 5, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

Free download of OTC's new book: The Commons Guide to Placemaking and a Convivial Life

16 Ways to Make Your Neighborhood Safer, Greener and More Fun

August 16, 2012 | By Jay Walljasper

From Italy to Luckenbach, Texas, practical ideas for improving your hometown

25 Tips for Making Your Neighborhood Better

August 13, 2012 | By Jay Walljasper

Jay Walljasper's guide to changing the world on your own block

11 Ways to Turn Public Spaces into Great Places

August 5, 2012 | By Project for Public Spaces

A guide for placemaking based on almost 40 years experience in 40 countries

How to Transform Your Community

August 2, 2012 | By Jay Walljasper

Jay Walljasper's video about how to make a great neighborhood

Around the World in 40 Places

August 1, 2012 | By Jay Walljasper

Some of the greatest public spaces on Earth--which offer lessons of what we could do in our hometowns

It Takes a Village to Make a Place

July 31, 2012 | By Jessica Conrad

The Importance of Public Spaces

Make a Better World in Your Own Backyard

July 16, 2012 | By Jay Walljasper

Stories from around the world that add up to more than the sum of their parts

An Infusion of Commons Thinking Can Transform the Future of Our Communities

July 13, 2012 | By David Motzenbecker

David Motzenbecker of the Minneapolis Planning Commission explores participatory planning