Spaces of Secular Faith?
Shared Assets and Intangible Values in Diverse, Changing Communities
Keywords:Urban planning, community, postsecular, austerity, public space
In the current political climate, questions of shared identities, inclusive communities and public spaces are of utmost urgency. Compounded by the context of austerity, the value and purpose of public spaces is under question. This paper argues that the established boundaries and categories limit the ability to bring about progressive change in this situation. Urban planning categorises "places of worship" as tangible and discrete entities. The broader, more societal value of spaces such as churches remains unsaid and ill-defined, as does the intangible, spiritual value of public and community spaces. The paper presents four diverse spaces within Bristol, UK. It explores how their current and potential future use both challenge and are challenged by the context of postsecularism, austerity and community divisions. By conceptualising them as implicit sacred spaces which can transgress established boundaries-of both planning policy and categorical religiosity-the paper questions the meaning, possibilities and problems of "municipal spirituality."
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