This paper introduces the concept of “Neighborhood Commons” developed by landscape architect Karl Linn (1923–2005) beginning in 1960 in declining areas of North Philadelphia and then subsequently in Washington DC, New York, Baltimore, Chicago, and other U.S. cities. After introducing Linn and situating his “Neighborhood Commons” in the socio-political context of American cities at this time, the paper presents the process of developing these commons as a collective ritual that parallels, according to Linn, rural “barnraising.” The use of ritual action for community development will be contextualized within cultural anthropologist Victor Turner’s contemporaneous theories on the ritual process as a means of achieving communitas (see Turner, The Ritual Process, 1969). Finally, the paper proposes what implications such a method of working may have on designing shared spaces in the city today.


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pp. 113-126
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