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Please Loiter

In the absence nearby parks or public plazas, small business owners have the power to provide comfortable and unique gathering spaces.

Photo of DeletedUser
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Written by DeletedUser

Easily accessible public gathering space is missing from many American cities, replaced instead by privately owned hangouts like the coffee shop and the bookstore. While both of these make great places to people watch and talk with friends, many communities don't have one within walking distance.

But why let Starbucks have all the fun? Just because you own a hardware store or a dry cleaning business doesn't mean you can't throw some bistro tables outside and give away free coffee. While you're at it, convert some of those parking spaces into an outdoor patio with some shade trees and your space will out-ambiance the cafe down the street. There's also no need to pressure people to buy anything - if you're the hardware store that has a miniature park out front where you host a monthly workshop series on DIY home repair, odds are people will remember you when they need a new hammer.

Ideally, cities should be able to provide multi-use public space for residents within walking distance of their homes. In already developed areas where such property doesn't currently exist, however, business owners could help fill the void.

What resources (money, time, people, technology, etc) will your concept need to be successful?

Interventions are based on the resources of the business owner, but it shouldn't take much funding to set up a cafe-like environment or outdoor patio if you leave out the $5,000 espresso machine.

How can your idea be scaled so that it's implemented in cities around the world?

While not all cities have a shortage of public gathering space, the idea is quite scalable and is intended to be a DIY solution for small business or property owners to provide comfortable places for people to congregate.


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Photo of Ashley Jablow

Mike, this is such a great idea and I love the photo you chose! I especially like that you've left it up to the business owner to determine the best way for his or her business to interact with the greater community – and that it doesn't have to be an expensive commitment! Great work.

Photo of DeletedUser


Thanks Ashley! Ideally - we can come up with some great solutions here that have a clear path to the finish line and don't cost an arm and a leg!

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