Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Well, if the city won't do it...

...we may as well take the cultural and economic future of our community into our own hands.

a neologism for the act of taking a job traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people, in the form of an open call.
(syn: Beta Community)

So, the City of Windsor will probably be busy with the WUC for so long, it will be up to the proactive, grassroots community to start actually looking after this community's creative and cultural legacy. For a hint of what's possible, I introduce you to Beta Communities across the US that are doing just that - taking matters into their own hands. A.K.A. Crowdsourcing...

Here's a rundown on the progress of Beta Communities in cities across the country (with many thanks to Neil Takemoto of Washington, D.C. based Cool Town Studios).

- in Washington DC

A VIBE beta community to crowdsource a progressive new downtown restaurant now has 108 members and counting five months into the process, and it doesn't even have a location yet (somewhere around 14th and U Street) . In the meantime, the beta community has convinced the business owner to grow from 1000 to 3000 s.f.; to go vegetarian, organic, local farm-oriented (except coffee I suppose); green; open kitchen; and offer a full slate of education, community and entertainment programs committed to making an impact, yet having fun at the same time. Read more about in this Washington Business Journal article, and if you live in the Washington DC and feel you should be a part of this, you can join the group here. Better get a passport, as we're looking into a trip to Nicaragua to experience the rustic shade-grown, organic, free-trade coffee culture and economy.

- in Anacostia,

a Building Beta Community has just been initiated to crowdsource a two-story, 14,000 s.f. shell of a building into a green, health-oriented mixed-use building of forward-thinking retail on the ground floor, and residential units above. Anacostia is an economically-challenged neighborhood that is slowly turning the economic corner, but has yet to boast that inspiring destination to get its former creatives to move back. Also, because many of those cultural entrepreneurs have left, we're looking to work with Howard University's most recent alumni about designing this building just for them. The focus here is about growing a strong African-American economy and culture, Anacostia's heritage, and if you'd like to participate, you can join the effort here.

- in Syracuse

Where will the creatives go in Syracuse when places begin to gentrify? That won't be a problem at 200 South Geddes, where developer Rick Destitio is transforming a 5-story historic factory building into a artist-musician live-work center. Not only that, but he's sponsoring a Beta Community that will eventually consist of 500 of the city's most progressive, culturally creative, entrepreneurial and/or passionate people who want to co-design, co-develop, and eventually co-habitate the place. The group of 18 core members are currently narrowing down the name... will it be the Brown-Lipe Gear Building, GearWorks, or the Gear Factory? If you live in Syracuse and want to be a part of it, you can join the effort here.

- in New Orleans

The city is rebuilding. However, just what is it rebuilding into? New Orleans already has a reputation of being one of the most authentic cities in the country, and the next generation of

young urban rebuilding professionals (aka YURP) want to keep it that way, yet raise its quality of life, 24/7 experiences, and knowledge-based economy to rival that of Austin, Silicon Valley and NYC. YURP, 700+ members and counting, is just about to launch a Beta Community to begin identifying key buildings in targeted neighborhoods (The Warehouse District?). Get involved with the base group here.

Keep track of these Beta Communities here.

Think of the possibilities that await those in Windsor with a vision, tenacity and a desire to see Windsor rise out of the ashes. We live on fertile ground, folks.

addendum posted Aug 29 @ 11:17 am

- in Liverpool

In 2008, Liverpool will be showcasing its cultural life as Europe's Capital of Culture. While the city is spending GBP 3 billion on a 'culture led transformation', some believe Liverpool 08 would benefit from a community led alternative. Which prompted Mark Bowness, who previously founded crowdfunded ventures Tribe Wanted and vipbandmanager.com, to start the Liverpool Cultural Cafe. Bowness, a Merseyside native, explains: "After learning about the cultures of Fiji, after bringing employment and investment to that area, I became passionate about doing the same in my home city." His latest project aims to get 25,000 people to pledge a donation of GBP 20. The pooled amount of GBP 500,000 will be used to launch a platform for local talent—musicians, comedians and other artists. A bistro by day and bar by night, the Liverpool Cultural Cafe will be staffed by 12 trainees from low opportunity backgrounds, who will be trained by local businesses. Liverpool Cultural Cafe's 25,000 investors will be able to influence the venture's development through an online community developed for the project.
If the initiative doesn't work out, not much is lost, since investors don't hand over their twenty quid until 24,999 others have agreed to do the same. If it does work, this could be a model for other civic groups to follow to get ventures off the ground without relying on government subsidies. One to watch in 2008!

1 comment:

BBS said...

That's an interesting application of the "open source" concept of development.

BTW, welcome to your new contributor - Damn Tree Hugger.