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Public Spaces
August 13, 2003

The Militarization of Space

Space is the final frontier, but as space travel advances, questions arise over ownership.


A United Nations agreement bars any government from owning the moon.  Other celestial bodies are up for grabs.   a state in the southeast of Mexico, with a diverse population of indigenous communities


As Aubrey Fennwald reports from KRFC in Fort Collins, Colorado, the US government is already laying claim to the largest piece of real estate this side of Alpha Centauri.

When Public Space Becomes a Refuge

Homelessness is epidemic in the United States.  Around 850,000 people are homeless every night across the country, and during the course of one year, 3 and a half million people will spend some time without a permanent residence.

A survey by the U.S. Conference of Mayors in December 2002 revealed that requests for emergency shelter increased 19 percent nationwide during the previous year. But, because of a shortage of shelter space, almost one-third of those requests could not be met. The result is people sleeping on sidewalks, in alleyways, in cars, and under bridges in cities across the country.

These people lack the basic necessities of life -- clean water, food, and sanitation facilities -- and they are subject to violence, both random and intentional. In addition to the constant threat of robbery and assault, homeless people are increasingly subject to hate crimes, simply because they are homeless.

The National Coalition for the Homeless reports that from1999 to 2001, 250 homeless people were stabbed, shot, and set on fire in targeted attacks. Living in public space is dangerous. In Seattle, where more than 2,000 people lack indoor shelter on any given night, a group of homeless people have come together to carve out a private space where they can live with some stability and security.

Tent City is an emergency outdoor shelter where 100 people -- about 60 men and 40 women -- live in a temporary community, cooperating to protect each other and to provide themselves with the basic necessities of life.

Negotiating Public Space Rights Between Homeless and Residents

How a public space is used can lead to conflict. Churches near public parks often like to use the space to provide services for the homeless, and St. Francis Park in Portland Oregon is a place where the homeless can relax. But it also led to a rise in 911 calls to the police. That prompted law enforcement to close the park temporarily.

During the closure, the St. Francis Church continued to operate a soup kitchen and a homeless sanctuary in the park. In June, after several meetings between residents and the homeless people who use the park, St. Francis Park reopened.

How Urban Design Affects Crime

Perception is nine-tenths reality. And when it comes to your urban environment, how you FEEL about a particular space is often a good indicator as to whether it is safe.  We look at CPTED, a design theory aimed at increasing personal safety and decreasing criminal activity.

Crime Cell Phone Company

Commentator Vicki Farden believes what she calls the cell phone epidemic has infected our public spaces.

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High Country Community Radio Coalition

Website by Steve Zelaznik