Understanding the Commons
( display item 5)
Laws, Regulations, Policies, Enforcement and Justice
Setup: 20-Oct-2011 
Are some of the small, local initiatives that have made local parks work so well really illegal? If so, why are the very innovations and projects that create friendly, welcoming spaces— where people can gather in so many different ways — prohibited?
Background to the Laws and Regulations research
Over 20 years ago, long-time park friends - later joined by resourceful local parks staff - began to make small, gradual improvements in Dufferin Grove Park in Toronto.
People now come from all over the city to enjoy affordable, tasty food; camp fires; local farmers' markets; outdoor theatre festivals; and free, drop in local neighbourhood and sports events - here and at other local, lively parks.
But, curiously - more and more over time - park administrators have stepped in to say "NO - you can't do this. It's against the rules". Existing rules have spawned more rules - and neighbourhood frustration - as each new "no" takes people's energies away from their real work of running the parks well, in welcoming, low-cost ways.
About eight years ago, we began to investigate these “no's”, asking ourselves: What are the rules, who makes them, in what context and why?
Here's our bird's eye view of the patterns that have emerged over time - when lively local parks collide with the rules....