The root cause of diminishing public resources and the privatization of urban public space today is precisely the privatization of our political system — a crisis that cannot be addressed simply by creating more public spaces or by making these public spaces more inclusive and accessible. This deeper crisis requires the attention and intervention of a much more active and engaged public, a public willing and capable of speaking up and mobilizing politically to change the system. — Places Journal
The recent wave of citizen protests — from Tahrir Square to Zuccotti Park to the streets of Athens — has brought renewed attention to the role of public space in democratic society. In an essay on Places (excerpted from the new book Beyond Zuccotti Park, by New Village Press) Jeffrey Hou shifts the emphasis from physical space to citizen action. We need to focus not just on ensuring the right to public assembly, he writes, but also on "the making and mobilization of the public as an actively engaged citizenry."