PHILIP'S BLOG: Creating splaces for social improvement
BY PHILIP PATSTON
I was thinking last night about space and place and how the combination of both would be a great concept — splace. Alas, I Googled it and found I couldn't take credit for creating a new word. The Urban Dictionary defines splace as:
A combination of place and space that can be used when describing a space within a place or a place within a space. Typically used in an earthly setting but could also apply to a place within outer-space.
We've all had the experience of being in an environment that may look amazing, but it feels wrong — perhaps unwelcoming, or hostile, or just weird somehow. And we've all had the opposite experience — feeling great somewhere that may not be fancy, or prepared, even in an unspecified place like a beach or park.
Being aware of the overlap of space and place is an important aspect of honouring diversity. When we invite new people into our place, we are also inviting them into a dynamic space. That space is tangibly influenced by culture, values, beliefs, assumptions, biases and more. It is also impacted by expectations — what we expect people to think, do, say, like, dislike, look like etc
In my experience, the best splaces for diversity and authentic self expression are created with as few expectations as possible. When there is an absence of expectations about what is "suitable" or "appropriate" in a splace, people can feel free to show up as their true, genuine selves.
Being intentional about creating open, accepting splaces is a powerful way to foster social improvement. It requires doing less rather than more, as well as decaying our expectations of others' and our own need to be in control.
And it allows freedom for everyone to feel comfortable, rather than anxious about fitting in.
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