When I walk around my city I like to imagine how it could improve: "What if we put a bikeshare here. What if we put a trail there?" I think to myself. Now there's a place for people who like to imagine improvements in their city to put their money where their urban aspirations are, if you live in the United Kingdom.
A new website, Spacehive, claims to be the world's first online crowdfunding platform for public space projects.
Essentially, people pitch great ideas to improve their community and gather funding for the projects. If a project reaches its funding goal over a certain time frame, just like on Kickstarter, the project gets the pledged money. If not, the project dies.
The site, which launched last December, has already successfully raised enough money to pay for a new community center in Wales. This particular project had 96 percent of the necessary funding but needed the rest by March 30 before grants expired. The project got the money needed and can move forward with the project. Other projects that are hoping to get funding include: a roundabout with a performance stage; a puppy playground; and a rooftop aquaponic farm in London.
And anyone -- from locals to businesses to the public sector to design professionals -- can propose an idea that they think will improve the community's public space, big or small.
But these projects are public space, so how does it jive with city planners? "You can't shortcut the need for planning permission," the company's website says. "But Spacehive offers a faster, more democratic way of getting things done that puts communities in the driving seat."
It's not just about gathering money for a project. The site allows you to develop an idea in "concept" mode. That way you can promote your idea and connect with the right people in the community to further develop the idea and make it a reality.
The crowdfunding model can be a healthy asset to help build a vibrant, engaged community. It has the potential to ignite the imaginations of residents and get them excited about a common goal. But the real question is: When will someone create something like this in the United States so I can add my ideas?
[Via The Pop-Up City]