Running List of Lexicon

Associationalism: Term often linked to French political mastermind Alexis de Tocqueville. It's the idea that individualism – a preferential focus on oneself and people like you – is negative for communal life. Rather, it's associating, interacting and gathering with a broader spectrum of society that breeds local democracy and promotes American freedoms. 

Business Improvement District: Geographically-defined commercial area for which business owners and city officials are funded to strategize and implement projects that increase business and foot traffic. 

Capital: Commodity that has value

Community: A community could be any group of people that share a set of experiences, values or perspectives, be it the residents of a zip code, the people who always take a smoke break at the same time, or the cohort of students in an MFA program. For the purposes of my thesis, I’m using the word community to describe the residents and workers co-habitating in a finite geographic location. In the case of Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, people come from all different social layers, educations, ethnicities, religions and lifestyles. They are bound by what I see as a common desire to live in safety and acceptance, and to feel valued by their surroundings and the powers that be (neighbors, local businesses and government).

Connection: The deeper and more lasting interaction. I’m investigating ways that designed objects, experiences and spaces can stimulate interaction that leads to a lasting connection. A shallow connection could be an exchange two people have in a neighborhood admiring street art. A more lasting one could be when the seating arrangement at a park causes two people to start talking and when they run into each other on the street the next time, they exchange email addresses because of a book they think the other person should read. While design has the potential of catalyzing a deep social and communal connection, the scope of this semester-long thesis is more to investigate the potential for potent and viable stimulus.

Interaction: An exchange between two things. In the context of my thesis, I’m looking at exchange between a human and something else, be it a constructed object or another person. Design is advantaged to stimulating participation and reaction.

Placemaking: The collaborative act of designing a public space to strengthen its value to a community.

From Project for Public Spaces: “Placemaking inspires people to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces as the heart of every community. Strengthening the connection between people and the places they share, Placemaking refers to a collaborative process by which we can shape our public realm in order to maximize shared value. More than just promoting better urban design, Placemaking facilitates creative patterns of use, paying particular attention to the physical, cultural, and social identities that define a place and support its ongoing evolution.”

Public Space: Outside space that is technically the commons, such as streets, sidewalks, parks and public transportation.

Social: Interaction between humans, normally involving conversation through words, looks, or body language.

Social Capital: "Connections among individuals - social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them." (Robert Putnam, Bowling Alone. 2000) 

From Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development:  "Networks together with shared norms, values and understandings that facilitate co-operation within or among groups."

From Robert Putnam: "In this definition, we can think of networks as real-world links between groups or individuals. Think of networks of friends, family networks, networks of former colleagues, and so on. Our shared norms, values and understandings are less concrete than our social networks. Sociologists sometimes speak of norms as society’s unspoken and largely unquestioned rules. Norms and understandings may not become apparent until they’re broken. If adults attack a child, for example, they breach the norms that protect children from harm. Values may be more open to question; indeed societies often debate whether their values are changing. And yet values – such as respect for people’s safety and security – are an essential linchpin in every social group. Put together, these networks and understandings engender trust and so enable people to work together." Bowling Alone.

Third Place: The space between work and home, where one can gather and take pause. Typically more of a public space, such as a park, cafe, santuary, or community center. Also tiptoes the lines to private space, from exclusive social clubs to the fact that cafes are also privately-held businesses.

Weak Ties: Casual social relationships that lack the closeness and familiarity of deep social relationships with friends, family and co-workers.

From Mark Granovetter: "The more weak ties we have, the more connected to the world we are and are more likely to receive important information about ideas, threats and opportunities in time to respond to them. Societies and social systems that have more weak ties are more likely to be dynamic and innovative. If the system is mostly made up of strong ties, then it will be fragmented and uncoordinated." The Strength of Weak Ties