Thursday, September 15, 2011

Social Spaces Project - Phase 1 Bennett


In the past decade many groups have emerged, as grassroots upstarts to coalesce into a solid, functioning organization. By planting the seed, establishing the need/want for a community that supports a specific process or culture that is under-represented in today’s current society, participants can patronize these areas to further their own and others interest in these areas.

Most of these groups are furthered due to a balance of giving and using. Often these socially beneficial groups are free, providing useful assistance or information for the sake of sharing.

Several groups can be identified that follow this doctrine of share and use alike:

-Free community cycle repair

-Free Yoga/Dance/Fitness class

-Wikipedia (the bane of High School teachers everywhere)

-Any forum you've every visited

-Creative Commons (to provide shared content)

-ReStore (Habitat for Humanity)

I wish to provide a physical space where people can meet to exchange goods and services. There is a desire for the exchange of commodities to benefit others. In tandem, a social interaction between community members is fostered. Users can bring underwanted items of interest to a local meet-up and also peruse other’s material items to see if they might have a use for such an item.

A market serves a dual purpose. It is primarily a place where one can acquire goods to better their lives. Our market both frees unwanted items and keeps those same items out of the waste cycle and extends the life of the object. The market also serves a social tenant, one on a local scale that promotes a sense of communal altruism.

The first Saturday of each month, a “Free Market - Flea Market” location will be announced where users can bring their goods and services to be exchanged. No money shall be involved; an agreement between the 2 parties shall be reached that the items are of equal need and exchanged. Items are more than welcome to be offered for free. Services are provided upon agreement and goods are transferred upon completion of the service.

All are welcome to visit and partake in the market for free. To develop a communal sense of sharing and growth, individuals are asked to simply observe a set of a few core respect-related ideas (i.e. BOTH parties must agree to the exchange, certain items/services may not be exchanged [list] (Haz-mat, firearms, etc.)). Refusal to respect these rights of others may end in a request that an individual not participate in the market.

An online companion was considered. There are online markets (for low-profit and free) however the goal of Free Market – Free Market lies withing the social space of interacting with your neighbors. To come to an agreement you have to get to know another community member in a mutually beneficial trade.

The key to a successful, sustainable market lies in the labors of it’s volunteers. Acquiring an adept space to hold the market, involving local resources to provide community and familial incentives to visit the market, and providing structures of support are inherent aspects of an environment I am looking to cultivate. Communities and groups like these expand and sustain naturally, however the right mentality and modes of nourishment are reliant upon of those who seek to add to, and glean from their offerings.

Costs involved:

-Item(s) required for bartering

-Volunteers to acquire spaces and provide advertising

-Cool tote bag for sale (Market Cost)


  1. Check out the Free Store:
    Its a group of four people who have put up a similar idea in several places in Chicago, (including Gallery 400). They might be a great resource for practical tips and conceptual reasons for creating a public space like this. Plus they are very cool and open to discussion so maybe there would be opportunity for collaboration.

  2. I think this is a great place to start, and like Chaz mentioned, shares a similar idea to what many people are doing all over Chicago already. I wonder if there's a way to embed an even more unique practice into the store - to maybe provide something more specific than just anything free... I suppose I'm looking for a more focused conceptual idea to insert in the already existing free store structure.

  3. Do you intend the market to be only for physical goods, or are you expecting/hoping for services to be included as well? This reminds me of an organization known as TimeBanks USA ( which is an online resource that facilitates exchanges of services, which could be interesting to implement in a less centralized, peer-to-peer manner via your market.


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