Community

COMMONspace


The San Francisco-based arts organization Rebar began addressing questions of public space when it launched the first Park(ing) Day in 2005, turning city parking spaces into parks for a day. Since beginning its involvement in Park(ing) Day, Rebar has delved further into a variety of projects to draw attention to public urban spaces, including COMMONspace, an exploration of San Francisco’s privately owned public open spaces (POPOS). On November 8th, the group, in conjunction with the performance art group Snap Out Of It, will stage a series of these paraformances throughout the afternoon that will range from individual actions to flash-mob style happenings.

Lack of public open space is a persistent problem throughout the world’s cities. Advocacy, and now even arts, groups have sprung up in response to the dearth of green romping grounds in urban environments. The San Francisco-based arts organization Rebar began addressing questions of public space when it launched the first Park(ing) Day in 2005, turning city parking spaces into parks for a day. Jeremy Faludi detailed the most recent manifestation of the now international event in WorldChanging on September 21 this year.

Rebar isn’t only concerned with creating new, temporary public spaces to raise awareness about the urban environment. The group also seeks to draw urban residents’ awareness to the few, yet valuable, spaces open to the public. Since beginning its involvement in Park(ing) Day, Rebar has delved further into a variety of projects to draw attention to public urban spaces, including COMMONspace, an exploration of San Francisco’s privately owned public open spaces (POPOS).

While parks are the obvious public spaces, POPOS are often more hidden courtyards, roof-top gardens, and plazas open to city-dwellers. POPOS are an integral part of San Francisco’s downtown plan that allowed for high-density private development while allotting some spaces for public use. While these spaces are legally open to the public during certain hours of the day, many are unknown or uninviting as public spaces. To answer the question, “Just how common are these spaces?” Rebar initiated COMMONspace, a project dedicated to discovering and mapping POPOS in downtown San Francisco. Rebar has plotted 14 POPOS that have been created in the downtown area since 1985. The map and field reports of each of the identified POPOS is available for download on Rebar’s website.

Since Rebar is fundamentally an arts-activism organization, the COMMONspace project wouldn’t be complete without public actions, or paraformances, choreographed to draw attention to the spaces in question. On November 8th, the group, in conjunction with the performance art group Snap Out Of It, will stage a series of these paraformances throughout the afternoon that will range from individual actions to flash-mob style happenings.


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