This case story is based on the press release about Sofia Croso Mazucco's presentation at the XVI Biennial IASC Conference 'Practicing the commons: Self-governance, cooperation, and institutional change', held July 10-14, 2017 in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Artist's impression of new use of unused public spaces. Copyright via Sofia Croso Mazucco.
Artist's impression of new use of unused public spaces. For copyright please contact author Sofia Croso Mazucco.

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.

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Authored by: Sofia Croso Mazzuco, co-founder Empathy Walks, e-mail