Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Blurring public and private spaces

Our photo essay examines the way public and private space is used in the International District and Columbia City. We interpret a ‘Shared City” as blurring between public and private domains.  The first photo shows police descend on a private Chinese association gathering in the International District.  These photos show how this private event is allowed to shut-down the public street temporarily through permitting.  The Chinese association showcases Kung Fu for elders and visitors. The photo of the Public sidewalk in the International District shows how public space is occupied by local merchants.  They are selling bags of mixed vegetables for one dollar.  
       Our next location was in Columbia City South Seattle.   Here a mural unveiling displays how private space is used publicly. The mural took 18 months to complete and was sponsored by a variety of public and private community associations.  The event attracts a dozen people at first, but as the crowd grows a larger audience is attracted by the mural. Neighborhood non-profit groups and community organizations helped to fund this mural project; they receive a sort of advertising acknowledgement on the mural. The building and parking lot are privately owned, but they clearly benefit the public.  The mural displays the past, present and Utopian future of Columbia city.  The mural highlights the cultural diversity of Columbia city. Finally the photo looking through the window of full tilt ice-cream shows how this particular business will benefit from the increased foot traffic.  The privately owned mural businesses and helps to brand Columbia city as a cultural diverse tourist destination. We often think about urban space as either public or private, but this binary does not explain the reality of urban living. Often public space is used by private organizations, and increasingly private space is used for the public good.   

-Isaiah and Jun

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