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beyond the Kuiper Belt, over the sea

Public Space

April 2nd, 2011 by Kit

It’s a beautiful day, and I’m working at a coffee shop on Pearl Street. Nice space, doors open to the air outside, a comfy chair and a nearby outlet. I don’t feel like their choice of music, so I’m listening on my headphones to Carter & Grammer—Drum Hat Buddha right now, but it’ll move on soon.

And amongst this, I am thinking about the use of public space, by which I only mean “spaces not hidden in someone’s home”. We four here have taken to working at coffee shops, and occasionally a local pub or two, when we want to get things done. It gets us away from the distractions of home, but more than that, it shifts our context enough to jump-start some work.

One thought leads to another, and soon I am thinking about  Cassidy’s, on Westmoreland Street in the middle of Dublin. Some friends took me there once, to find the basement bar full of gamers—some people playing card games, some playing role-playing games, some playing board games, some just talking. This idea has stayed with me since I saw it; rare is the place in this country where that would work, was my first reaction. But maybe not; maybe I just have to talk to a few gamers, and talk to a few pubs. Part of what makes it work, of course, is the size and layout of an actual Irish pub; there’s a whole basement bar that allows people to set themselves aside a bit, and not be disturbed or disturbing.

So, from there, I come to something that Vincent Baker posted about today: Owl and Raven, a community space that’s just opened in Northampton, MA. The idea is to have a space where people can come to work on projects, hang out, and learn from each other and talk with each other. This seems a really compelling idea, and I look forward to following these people to see how it works.

Finally, all of this leads me to remember an idea I had a while ago, that I occasionally revisit: gamerspaces. The idea is to make something like hackerspaces, but for gamers and games. A bit over a year ago, I was frequenting the IRC channel of, and had the notion to get a group of gamers of all stripes to pitch in some membership fees to get a space and furnish it with what you need for games and gamers: tables, couches, nooks and crannies, and 24-hour access and security. One problem with this idea so far has been that companies will sometimes donate to hackerspaces, but I have a hard time envisioning getting funding for a gamerspace from anything but members’ fees.

All of these ideas are as-yet just vaguely related notions floating around, but I thought I’d put them out there, to remind myself and maybe give other people ideas.

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  • Elizabeth

    I have no idea where the Owl and Raven is but you should visit Northampton and see this place for yourself!

    also, I have a couple of linguist friends going to the LSA at Boulder. One is into board (mostly?) games, the other into folk dance and shape note singing and viol (…and it’s not me.). They are both excellent people. You should meet them, and they, you.

  • Yes, and yes!

    Interestingly, I can’t find their address on their site anywhere.

  • Cassidy’s went bust. Nothing to do with us, just took some loans at the wrong time. Both the IGA (who you’re talking about) and the Cam (who also play out of pubs) have had to move a few times in the last few years. Never heard of either group being homeless for more than a couple of weeks. Once we buy drinks and don’t cost too much or disturb other customers, the pubs don’t seem to mind.

  • Elizabeth

    It was well hidden on the site, but mentioned one place (2 Conz St., which I may trundle down to, to see it. nothing is far here…)

    When it gets closer, maybe I shall put you guys in touch? I’ll be in Flagstaff for Navajo Language fun and sometimes wonder if I might not somehow wander up to Boulder myself, this summer…

  • I do hope I can make something like that work here. I’ll certainly let you know as and when I do, if you’re curious. But it’s the disturbing and being disturbed that’s the issue; the layout of most bars around here is not nook-ish.

  • I love Drum Hat Buddha — I’ve mused that I’ve almost got enough filks of Dave Carter songs to make their own album, and it could be Drum Hat Yoda.

    A gamerspace sounds similar to a games store that hosts events, only without the store part. A gamerspace might not be able to set itself up entirely out of dantions, but it might be able to get discounts by acting as a buying club for its members, or take advantage of programs where distributors give playtesters copies of games in exchange for promoting them.

  • Those are some good ideas. We should talk about this. And yeah, it’s a lot like a FLGS, but the idea is to explicitly divorce it from profit considerations.