Thinking about public spaces and microtransactions.

These two things are not related.

But I'm still thinkin' about 'em at the same time.

1) We got no public spaces. They're mostly gone, usurped by commercial spaces.

2) Payment processors have rendered payments of less than roughly $1.50 worthless.

I'm going to discuss each of these things in thread form.

There's a park in front of my apartment complex, and it has a giant electronic billboard facing it, that plays video and audio 24 hours a day. It's a public space made commercial.

We treat coffee shops like public spaces, but they still close at 10pm, and give you dirty looks if you don't buy something.

Hell, three nights a week when it's cold out the lady and I will just go wander around various retail establishments so that we can get some walking in, and not be out in the wind and the rain.

When I get together with friends, we mostly have to do it in someone's home, because our options are that or a bar or a coffee shop, because even commercial spaces that were at one time geared towards socialization and drawing a crowd have either disappeared or shifted their business model to one that places greater emphasis on consumption.

(Most arcades are gone, for example. Tabletop stores are moving towards a more event based model, where there is some kind of buy in for the evening.)

I can't blame these retail establishments for doing these things. Money is tight, inflation eats it away. Wages increase at a rate bellow inflation, anyway. Our buying power is lower than it has ever been.

Of course businesses are struggling to keep up.

Of course traditional public spaces are being eroded by more value extraction.

There's so little to go around from all of us, and capitalism is a game with winners and losers.

I never lived on a college campus, but I had lots of friends that did. I spent a large portion of my late teens and early 20s in the Public Spaces that college campuses provide. Every building, it seemed, had a huge ground floor with tables and electricity and wifi, and some of them also had free coffee.

I imagine that this is what it would be like if we made libraries more focused on being community spaces, gave them longer hours, and encouraged socialization or events in the evenings.

And my apartment complex has that kind of a lounge area. Many apartment complexes do.

But when I was hanging out on campuses, I would just walk in to a building, plop down, and start working.

I've never been to an apartment complex that didn't have access control on the doors to the building, the doors to the lobby, the internet connection, and the printer. You know?

Heck, at this place I have to swipe my dongle to get a cup of coffee.

It's almost a public space, but it isn't really.

In my home town, they have a "community center" that is allegedly available for community events.

The sign says "community center"

If you call them, they answer the phone "Senior Center"

You can rent the building for events two nights a month, if you've already rented it before.

Every other night of the month, it's closed.

I'm not sure what even is the point.

@ajroach42 I wonder, is it maybe something that's been around for a long time, and they've been unable to figure out how to keep running it on an ongoing, more "full time basis". I wonder if someone approached them and asked what it would take to have more active, like even to be able to be open 2 nights a week would be a *huge* improvement. But maybe there isn't interest? Though it sounds like you're interested...

It's a county building, tax supported.

It's not that they aren't open in the evenings, it's that they pre-book their own events every day of the month that they are allowed to, so that they can serve the portion of the community they are interested in serving without having to deal with the community at large.

@ajroach42 I wouldn't say that it's a *bad* thing, if they are pretty much fully booked, but if people aren't able to book *a* space, then I have a bit of a problem. Then again, a lot of spaces that *seem* to be public even around here, really aren't. Not sure if they are "treated as public" enough that people need to worry about them not being public.


I might not be explaining myself clearly. Sorry about that.

The community center is big. It has an event room that can host 500+ people, a full industrial kitchen, and two smaller rooms that can host 50+ each.

It also has a lounge area with TVs and some pool tables.

The center books "events" in one of these smaller rooms, or in the lounge. These events are often just 5 - 10 people in a sewing circle, or a knitting night or whatever.

That leaves two rooms free! But they won't rent the other rooms because they book the whole center for the 5 - 10 person events, so that they don't have to deal with The Youth.


@JigmeDatse I worked with the local soccer association and the local community theater to get space at the center for signups and performances and it was like trying to push a boulder up a hill.

Our events would be actively sabotaged by staff. Our signs removed, attendants told that they couldn't use the parking lot on site.

One night, while we were performing our play, they actually just cut power to the whole room because we were "being too loud" and "bothering the sewing circle".

@JigmeDatse And we were *paying* for this space.

It's not a lot of money, don't get me wrong, but we had to Pay for the privilege of fighting to actually use the space that our tax money had already funded.

It was nepotism at its worst.

@ajroach42 That sounds like a private club, paid for by taxpayer dollars. Ick...

@JigmeDatse More or less, yeah.

And the same has held true in my current town, too.

I haven't tried anything as involved as a play, but I was trying to put together a small benefit event for some locals who had fallen on hard times.

They approved my date, then found out what it was for and cancelled Twice.

I finally ended up renting the building next door.

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