The Public Park as Liminal Space: A Study of Spontaneous and Intentional Behavior and the Impact on Community
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Type of Work246 pages
ProgramMA in Cultural Sustainability
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Cultural sustainability -- Capstone (Graduate)
Public spaces, such as parks, provide a space and time that exists outside of the familiar. They are set apart from the everyday, thus providing opportunity for engagement in activities, exploration of behaviors, and interactions with others. They are temporal spaces - ones that are intentionally entered and left. I posit that parks are liminal spaces which provide opportunities – expected and the unexpected. Felix Rosch states that “it is in these liminal spaces that societal changes are being triggered and new collective identities can emerge” (Rosch 2017, 290). The thesis strives to answer the question “how do we encourage cultural health and equity in a diverse and unequal world through the use of public space?” Furthermore, I begin to explore what this means for surrounding communities. Field documentation in Patterson Park (Baltimore, MD) provides current data to augment academic research. The data will be used to support academic research and conclusions. An historical overview of the intended purpose and actual use of public parks is included. Observing happenchance intersections, or avoidance, of park participants begins to inform and answer questions related to whether public parks fulfill their missions, hints to how they could adapt, and provide information about the impact on communities. The Capstone Project serves to further my growth as an academic researcher and strengthen my skills in the application of theory. Extending my skills of being a thoughtful listener and ability to lean into silence is especially important for this project. I envision the outcomes of the Capstone Project to be considered for multiple types of public spaces. This is not an ethnographic report of Patterson Park. Instead, it uses data observed in Patterson Park in partnership with conclusions drawn from academic research. The thesis may be used to inform future programming and approaches of engaging community. Academically, the research will support the development of the field of cultural sustainability by striving to build understanding within and among cultural groups in public spaces. The research will further support the study of whether public spaces, which provide opportunity for spontaneous and intentional intersection, ultimately fulfill their stated missions.
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