The Commonplace #16

Hello everyone, 

At Social Possibility Lab, we explore and encourage possibilities for greater good.  Here are 7 things we are seeing, thinking, or doing this week:

  • It reminded me of my conversation last year with Caitlin Murphy of the Live6 Alliance in northwest Detroit.  The Alliance’s mission is to enhance quality of life and economic opportunity for people in and around the McNichols and Livernois corridors.    Some of their work was jumpstarted by participation in the national Civic Commons project.  That project focused on the ways that social infrastructure could create experiences and spaces for people of all backgrounds to exchange ideas and address common problems.   
  • In their 2019 paper in Geography Compass, Alan Latham and Jack Layton dive deeper into a review of some of the research and implications around the concept of social infrastructure:

“Attending to the diverse spaces, facilities, institutions, and groups that create affordances for social connection can highlight overlooked and undervalued aspects of collective urban life. Central to this is an infrastructural approach: an approach that is sensitive to the way spaces and facilities are designed, maintained, and planned, but also how spaces are practiced and come to be used (Star, 1999). The social connections and socialities that are built and maintained through accessing social infrastructure have real material benefits and consequences; they generate a “social surplus”—encouraging trust, civility, encounter, and common purpose (Amin, 2008). “

  • Social infrastructure can contribute to possibilities for good, but physical spaces are only one part of the tapestry.  The intangible connections between people in place also matter, the ways of collective imagining.  This 2012 book by Peter Murphy on collective imagination is on my “to-read” list.

Thanks for reading and exploring with us.  Send us a message or join our list.


Scott, Brad, & the Social Possibility Lab team