The wisdom of crowds
April 11, 2012
Crowdfunding is now a legal form of finance for start-ups in the US. Storm Cunningham looks at the success of the model on local renewal in the first of two articles from his new book ReCivilising: Rise of the Renewal Renegades
There’s nothing new about citizens banding together to provide a service their local government should be providing, but isn’t… or to stop their local government from doing (or supporting) something they are doing, but shouldn’t be. There’s also nothing new about citizens using social media to organize such activities more efficiently.
What is new is citizens using crowd technologies to quickly design, fund, and launch local projects and programmes to improve their communities. Social media only connects people: in order to effect real change, cooperation on real work is needed. That’s where crowd technologies enter the scene.
In 2011, a small group of community activists decided to turn an ugly vacant lot in New Orleans into a community farm, but needed $4,000 in order to do so. They posted the Lamanche Community Farm project on the largest (of over a thousand worldwide) crowdfunding sites — Kickstarter.com — and 30 days later had $4,425 from 84 people. The farm is now thriving, the dead space is alive and beautiful, local diets are being improved via fresh produce, and the city loves it.