Crowdsourcing the City
Paris, Hamburg, Moscow, Madrid and Sacramento – all cities where crowdfunding of local initiatives has been used with mostly positive experiences. At the same time, it needs to be discussed if and how a crowdfunded initiatives necessarily also are sustainable and contributing to the just city.
Mistra Urban Futures joined forces with the New Cities Foundation to arrange this one-day conference in London 24 April. Some 150 persons took part in this ground-breaking gathering of knowledge and trends within crowdfunding and crowdsourcing; the latter can involve various forms of engagement, including social labour, network building etc which may support community engagement, social impact and sustainability.
Mayor Christopher Cabaldon of West Sacramento, being positive in general but advocating a pinch of salt in the discussions, reminding that the crowd is not always right – the Californian voters have changed their mind more than once. In Paris, the project Reinventer Paris encourages the citizens to take part and build projects with others; 5 percent of the investment budget is allocated to this crowdsourcing of ideas.
“Our experience is that people feel an ownership”, Deputy Mayor Jean-Louis Missika explained. “And each year we learn more about how to transform individual ideas into collective projects.”
The societal impact of Crowd Urbanism was the focus of a special session, chaired by David Simon, Mistra Urban Futures, and also including Liza Cirolia, African Centre for Cities and the Cape Town Local Platform.
“The cities that will succeed are the ones where citizens take part in shaping them”, she said. However, this should not be interpreted as crowdfunding taking the place of public funding of basic services, such as child care and schools.
This was the first Crowdsourcing the City conference, and plans are being discussed for a second conference in a year to follow up on many of the issues that were discussed.
Written about the conference
Photo from Mistra Urban Futures session: from left David Simon, Katharine Czarnecki (Michigan Economic Development Corp), Marina Petrovic (UNDP Alternative Finance), Maria Adebowale-Schwartz (Project for Public Spaces) and Liza Cirolia (Mistra Urban Futures/African Centre for Cities)
Text: Jan Riise Photo: Ulrica Gustafsson