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Commons in Action

"Commons in action" is a joint program by the IASC and the Elinor Ostrom Award. The animation was done by the Viumasters. Get to know their work at

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Unused public spaces can launch grassroot community and urban development

The innumerable underused public spaces in cities worldwide can become places where people collaborate to create alternative service provision and development, a researcher in the UK says. Where that occurs, city dwellers find they have a new community resource they can all use – an “urban commons” – that can in turn help city governments to better support their citizens as cities become more and more complex, the research shows.

While David Cameron’s 2011 “Big Society” agenda for the UK failed, grass-root projects based on regeneration of public spaces can, with appropriate government support, build urban commons that ultimately achieve the goals of that agenda – including empowering communities, encouraging government-plus-community generation of services, and promotion of individual action for community development, the research suggests.

Sofia Croso Mazzuco
phone: +44 74 903 899 59

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Artist's impression of use of unused public space

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Collection of examples of use of public spaces

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