Advocating for Civic Spaces in Thailand

By Katia Balassiano.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Civic spaces are sites where civil society can be
nurtured and strengthened. They can serve as venues for
associational and political life where diverse people meet
and exchange ideas. This paper will explore the relationship
between the intentional process of civic space production
and the outcome of such process, including not only the
civic spaces themselves, but also the tangential impacts the
process affords. The civic space production process not only
creates or preserves spaces, but the deliberative and
participatory means of achieving that goal are as worthwhile
as the intended outcome. Additionally, the production
process and civic spaces created, individually and in
combination, can help sustain a public interest in civic
spaces and may well lead to the creation of future civic
spaces. Located in Thailand is a nongovernmental
organization that is facilitating the production of civic
spaces within the wider goal of improving livability. The
organization is named the Thailand Environment Institute, or
TEI. Unlike other non-governmental organizations in Thailand
that focus on specific, individual components of livability,
TEI is attempting to address a broad range of livability
components simultaneously while developing local
institutional frameworks and capacities that sustain these
efforts. Preliminary findings from a case study of TEI’s
work with local authorities to enhance a civic space will be
presented. Identifying and streamlining the best practices
of civic space production can lead to the use of this
approach on a wider scale in Thailand.

Keywords: Civic Space, Public Space, Livability

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp.229-242. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.241MB).

Katia Balassiano

Doctoral Candidate, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Ms. Balassiano is a doctoral candidate at the University of Hawaii in Urban and Regional Planning. Prior to reentering school, she served as the Planning Director in Cumberland, Rhode Island for two years and Town of Burrillville, Rhode Island for four years. She has also worked in the private and non-profit sectors as a policy analyst and land use consultant. She has two primary fields of interest: space and civil society, and urban planning and deliberative democracy. Ms. Balassiano has been part of a system of governance that regularly negotiates the interface of public decision making and societal influence. She has seen how the collective voice of civil society can lead to improvements in livability. Working with civil society organizations has led her to appreciate the need for physical spaces where grassroots democratic practices can be nurtured and sustained.

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