Uniting the crowd
April 27, 2012
Crowd-based tools have the power to put citizens at the heart of urban renewal. In the second instalment based on his new book, Recivilising: The Rise of the Renewal Renegades, Storm Cunningham looks at the impact
In the first article in this series I talked about the growth in crowdfunding tools and how they were helping citizen-led projects to get off the ground. However, it’s not just a lack of tools that’s been holding back effective public engagement in renewal projects. Low standards and expectations play a major role. The level of citizen involvement in the future of their communities and regions has traditionally been so low (almost non-existent) that institutions quickly reach a level of pride and satisfaction when even the smallest amount of progress is made in citizen engagement.
Here’s an extract from an article by Kaid Benfield called How El Paso Ended Up With America’s Best Smart Growth Plan: ‘The Environmental Protection Agency honored the draft of Plan El Paso with a national award as the year’s best example of outstanding programmes, policies and regulations. Plan El Paso “deputised the entire city as citizen planners” with a series of hands-on public planning workshops comprising over eight weeks of intense community exercises and discussions to generate the plan vision. This process was followed by over a year of regular meetings with a citizen advisory committee to refine the draft plan. A project website that also welcomed discussion received over 30,000 visitors. Plan El Paso offers ideas for the revitalisation of our urban core. My experience has been that an informed public generally makes very good decisions about their community’s future. Plan El Paso repeatedly acknowledges that its best ideas were locally generated.’