There???s a reason the crowds are said to have wisdom, and why two heads are better than one. Working together, individuals and groups can have a positive synergy that gets things done, so it???s no wonder that cities are benefitting for crowdsourcing instead of just top-down change. Just look at the success of Kickstarter in the crowdfunding space and SeeClickFix in the urban improvement space.
These two concepts ??? crowdfunding and urban improvement ??? have been married by several recently launched startups, both in the U.S. and abroad. These civic crowdfunding startups tap local communities and businesses to raise money for community centers and urban beautification, giving citizens a sense of ownership and a stake in the future of their cities. Mashable spoke with three fledgling crowdfundng startups that are showing early success and a lot of promise; read more about them below.
Chris Gourlay worked as a journalist in architecture and planning for years, making him ???very aware of the many barriers that exist for brilliant ideas to see the light of day.??? Those barriers include a ???merry-go-round of planning meetings, consultations, fundraising rallies and paperwork,??? which can kill an idea ??? even a great one ??? in its infancy. So the UK-based Gourlay launched Spacehive as an alternative, a way to fuel good ideas that bureaucracy might otherwise squash.
The site went into beta in March and fully launched this month; Gourlay says an upcoming partnership announcement will help to expand the userbase. Already though, the site shows promise. Several projects have been funded, including a community center in South Wales that needed ??35,000 in five weeks before it would lose its existing ??750,000 in grants (photo above shows neighborhood reaction). Money came in from local businesses, corporations like Tesco and even one donation from Patagonia. In the art realm, a papier mache Queen???s Head was funded to lead a parade of boats down the Regent???s Canal during a Jubilee celebration. In the wake of riots in London, an ??800 exhibition was funded to explore how better public spaces could make for happier environs. Other projects still in the funding stage include an urban oasis and a free Wi-Fi movement. ???We want Spacehive to encourage a burst of creative ideas for our public spaces, and to support innovative projects that are in the interest of the public,??? says Gourlay.
???Developers put millions in community contributions, but you do sometimes wonder if it???s all a bit top-down ??? money can sit in local authority coffers for years while they work out how it is spent,??? says Liz Peace, Chief Executive of the British Property Federation. She adds that startups like Spacehive make the process more bottom-up, thanks to the community involvement element.
Gourlay says his crowdfunding model is not a way to ???sideline the authorities,??? but rather to use technology to ???tap the collective financial resources and imagination of local people and businesses and match it with the clout of the municipal authorities, grant bodies and experienced community organizations,??? making urban development a more collaborative effort.
Would you support projects like these in your neighborhood? Tell us in the comments below.