Building Common Ground with our Neighbors

What is a Commons?

Any place in which people assemble,
indoors or outdoors,
irrespective of the duration of its occupancy,
can be considered a potential commons.

Sharing in the envisioning of
what a supportive and uplifting meeting place might be
can awaken people’s sense of being in community.
It can reawaken the commons.

People can stake their claim on a commons
through instant transformation of spaces,
barnraising and animating temporary settings for special occasions,
or building lasting neighborhood and community garden commons.

-Karl Linn

The prose poem above is taken from the introduction to a magical book detailing public gardens and common spaces throughout Berkeley. Karl Lynn was a thoughtful and loving man who tirelessly pursued his community ideals to the results of such cherished places in town like the Peralta Gardens and the Eco House. The book Building Commons and Community is a must read for community organizers that yearn for a straightforward guide to building healing relationships between neighbors and their environment. 

Our neighbors from Bayer Inc, whose offices are just across Grayson street from Horizon Transitional Village, called to offer their help in the space before the city even signed a lease. It seems counterintuitive that one of the largest corporations in the country would also be one of the more personable and thoughtful neighbors, but this is Berkeley after all.

This garden, basketball court, and public stage will become an important commons for this new transitional community, accessible both to people who live there and neighbors who drop in to share in the work and play of the space. From tending to plants and growing food, to delivering or receiving therapeutic services, the Horizon community Garden is a place for residents and visitors to convene and connect. 

Design is a powerful tool to attract. Commotion West Berkeley is a small but mighty group that leverages their collective talents to support and create usable accessible design for community benefit. The planter boxes, paint, and materials were made possible through their generous contributions and community connections. The movement to provide beautiful and welcoming spaces to bring together neighbors is alive and well on Grayson St. RTEBN is proud to know that we are carrying on the traditions of Karl and his extended network of Berkeley faithful.

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