Activating Spaces  vs Activating People

Activating Spaces vs Activating People

 Read Time 3 minutes 30 seconds

You may find yourself struggling to understand how this post fits in with Akron Honey. Akron Honey is a purposeful and very conscious company, born from the passion of a social entrepreneur. So this is right in line with what we do: Building Better People & Better Places

So imagine for one minute.  It's 2014, and you're in an urban Midwest city.  I can guarantee that at some point in time during any given month, you'd hear certain "buzzwords".   One of the most popular back then, and one of the most annoying now, was the phrase "activating spaces."  Regretfully I have to admit that I often used that phrase to describe what I was doing with my formerly vacant and blighted lot, which is now an apiary (bee yard). It's kind of like a hairdo you once thought was cool, but now can't stand even seeing in an old photo.  Activating Spaces is referring to the act of using an empty space in creative ways in order to give life and color to the surrounding area.  Look, there's nothing wrong with activating spaces, but it has been a word that people seem to just try to insert in every creative thing they try to do. But most problematic, it centers itself on a thing and not on what it ultimately is supposed to do: someway enhance people.


For this reason, activating spaces cannot be effective without intrinsically being related to activating people.  What?!?!?  Yes, you can activate people.  And we have a moral obligation to do so.  Although we could discuss the mechanics of this for another fifty minutes, I'll get right to the biggest benefit of activating people by saying one phrase:  SOCIAL SCALE.

Allow me to illustrate.  Activating a space is like inviting 50 people over for a party. Let's say a fish fry. Everybody comes over and kicks it for a while, eats fish, listen to some music and dance.  The Generation Xers are posting to Facebook, Millennials are posting to Instagram, and Generation Zers are taking selfies and posting them to Snapchat.  Later on, everyone goes home.  One week later they begin forgetting about the fish fry. One month later it seems as if it never even happened, and they're onto the next thing.

Inversely, activating people is like inviting people over for the same party, but showing them how to do it themselves.  You show them how to catch a different and more attractive variety of fish, how to advertise for it, how to work with the city for parking, how to buy additional fish in bulk to attain a cost advantage.  But most importantly, you show them the really big picture.  You show them the positive social impact of gathering a diverse group of people together for fish, dancing and music.  You give them a guidebook to changing the landscape of things, instead of just showing up to the party for a good time.

So by activating people in conjunction with activating spaces, you can achieve SOCIAL SCALE instead of just creating one singular source of impact.  It's bigger and badder than activating spaces alone. 

Real Life Example. Below is a picture of me in Detroit during 2014 as I visited some other urban beekeepers with Green Toe Gardens (Two from Detroit, One from Scotland).  They shared with me how they took vacant land in Detroit and turned it into apiaries and urban farms.  Because of that visit, I decided to expand Akron Honey to the east side of the city so that we could have a more expansive impact with people.

Detroit Hives

We are beginning to make this concept a language that we speak.  In the header photo you can see a visit we did with girl scouts back in 2015. Now we are building in  STEM based program for students who work with us on a project basis. 

So that's it!!! As always, share your thoughts with us below. Oh, and here's a song to kick off your week.


Wesley The Keeper

Leave a comment

Back to The Story