What if urban residents could (re)claim the city for cooperative uses? What if they could locally govern common spaces in ways that best met their needs? How might the pooling and stewarding of common resources increase a sense of entitlement to the city itself? “Urban commons” represent an opportunity for new social arrangements that enable sharing of (not always visible) spaces, resources, and information among urban denizens, to meet their needs. Using the lenses of un/reclaiming spaces, dynamic and inclusive governance, and alternative economies, this conversation explored a deeper understanding of the possibilities of the urban commons and the potential obstacles to their growth. Building on the contributions of panelists from The In/Visibility of the Urban Commons, the Parsons UtransLab Team explored how applying frameworks of the “urban commons” helps us envision new arrangements and claims for a specific urban case study – 14th Street in Manhattan.

Our lab hosted the conversation in collaboration with Sheila Foster, University Professor at Fordham University; Christian Iaione, Director of LabGov and Associate Professor of Public Law at LUISS University; Kakee Scott, PhD Candidate, School of Design, Carnegie Mellon University & Visiting Researcher, DESIS Lab; and Dimeji Onafuwa, Design Researcher & PhD Candidate, School of Design, Carnegie Mellon University.


Co-researchers cluster photos taken during field observations on 14th Street.

Co-researchers were asked to write love letters to 14th Street, highlighting the positive, the painful, and the possibility for totally new uses.