The state of crowdsourced placemaking winter ’11

Being that there really is no other resource on crowdsourced placemaking, here’s a brief update on how the field is progressing, with an invite for others to contribute their own updates.

Permanent projects.
– We’ve got a whammy of a real project in Bristol, Connecticut, pop. 61,000… a $1.2 billion downtown revitalization where the crowd has a direct role in identifying what public amenities should be the centerpiece. 200 votes for public amenity ideas they come up with within a two-month period (March 15, 2011) nets them a feasibility study to incorporate it into the master plan, with benchmarks on retail to follow. One business owner (Nuchie’s) is so enthused by the process that he’s sponsoring a free public dinner on March 3, 2011.
– Portland, Maine is crowdsourcing a brand new two-story coworking space, Peloton Labs, and the grand opening date is February 11, 2011. You can see every conversation that lead to their current business model here. More to come next time.

Crowdsourced placemaking tools.
Kudos to Renaissance Downtowns and the Bristol Rising project for pioneering the use of the first tool created specifically for the purposes of crowdsourced placemaking, known as Bubbly (good ideas float to the top). Not only are ideas sorted by how well they’re “liked”, but by the end of the month so will comments. It’s been fundamental to the success of the Bristol project, helping it attract well 300 new voting participants in a month for a small city.

The best article to date on crowdsourced placemaking is from the Bristol Observer on January 28, 2011: Bristol Rising turning ideas into action. The Bristol project is also likely to be mentioned in the upcoming book, Crowdsourcing for Idiots by Aliza Sherman. There’s also yours truly presenting crowdsourced placemaking at a TEDx below (I waited until the animations were re-inserted, and they never were, oh well).

Alas, for those looking for a degree in crowdsourced placemaking, it doesn’t exist. However, if you’re really serious about getting educated in the field, join the Crowdsource Placemaking Lab and make a case with the admin to join a group specifically for those just like you, sharing how they’re going about it. I will say this, practicing crowdsourced placemaking is extremely difficult if you’re averse to online social networking!

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