The Thirdspace Trust is an organisational solution for the commons that would help protect spaces between work and home, so-called “third spaces’, that are valuable for community interaction. These are spaces which are open and welcoming, low cost or free, where conversations happen and where commoners can come together formally and informally. They provide space for learning, democratic dialogue, socialising, and enjoyment. ‘Commoners’ here are the general public, both members of local communities and visitors. Although London is filled with many third spaces, they are increasingly under threat by development and privatisation and are often underused. By providing advocacy, support and protection to third spaces and the commoners that use them, the Trust would facilitate the creation of more and better-used third spaces.
The members of the Trust would be key stakeholders such as government, charities, churches and religious groups, community groups, businesses and housing associations. The Trust would be sustained through a variety of ways, including private grants and memberships, organisational member dues, government support, booking revenues, and online portal advertising revenue. Commoners would be responsible for the democratic nomination of third spaces for protection by the Trust. Trust staff would help organise direct collaboration with under-represented communities to ensure an inclusive nomination process, thereby ensuring that third spaces that are valuable to all community members are equally protected. An online portal would allow commoners and groups that run third spaces to have a one-stop shop for promoting spaces, activities, and finding out about events important to their community. Advocacy, campaigning, and advising on policy would raise the profile of third spaces at a national level. If a designated third space were to come under threat from development or another cause, the Trust could support community groups to save the space or purchase the asset.
Brian Grady developed the idea for a trust to protect third spaces, drawing on past experience as a Volunteer Coordinator for Peabody in London. He also created many of the graphics and contributed to the urban design context. Brian works for Common Ground, a homeless charity in New York City.
Maria Vitale had the idea for the online portal, influenced by her time as a community development worker for Peabody. A former resident of the Cally, Maria created the case study, including photography, and researched the legal system around protecting community assets. Maria works as a management consultant in London.