When we read here about new and bright ideas that deserve support, it makes sense that we want to support those closest to home. In the same vein as Kickstarter, the crowdfunding website for creative ideas, Spacehive was been launched to support neighborhood building projects in the UK.
Founder Chris Gourlay describes the Spacehive as the world's first online funding platform for neighborhood improvement projects. For people with inspiring project ideas, Spacehive allows anyone to pitch for support and funding from their community. For locals it’s an easy way to transform where you live: just find a project you have faith in and pledge funding. If it reaches the funding target, it gets built.
For instance, at the time of this posting, the featured project was to unlock London’s “secret dock” with ten days left in the project. The description is: “Help us turn a derelict East London dock into a bustling creative quarter, nestled between Canary Wharf and the Olympic Park” and £59,925 had been pledged so far. The project profile is broken down into “What we’ll do,” “Why it’s a great idea,” and “How we’ll get it done.” One can view top funders and follow the project as updates unfold.
Spacehive has been created for design professionals to pitch project ideas direct to the community. Public bodies and businesses will also use it as a way of funding capital neighborhood improvements that puts communities in the driving seat.
Recently, the ex-mining town of Glyncoch, South Wales, became one of Spacehive’s first success stories. For seven years, Glyncoch had pursued state cash for a much-needed £792,000 community centre. With tens of thousands still to raise before their grants expired, the town appealed to local residents to fill the void. Glyncoch’s campaign was boosted by supporters such as comedian Stephen Fry, Martha Lane-Fox, the government’s “digital champion,” and Welsh comic Griff Rhys Jones.
And most importantly, community members dug deep, raising thousands through street collections and bingo nights. Deputy Mayor Doug Williams of Glyncoch added, “We’re absolutely ecstatic that by summer we’ll see a state-of-the-art centre offering the types of training and education that will kick-start people’s ambitions. Glyncoch is a deprived area; people are used to being let down. Now people are thinking ‘we can get out of this rut.’"
In a way, Spacehive aims to shake up neighborhood planning by allowing anyone to pitch proposals for community building projects and anyone to pledge funding. Urban design and architecture enthusiast Fabian Neuhaus discusses his concerns over what this means for the future of city planning in the UK over at the Sustainable Cities Collective blog. Food for thought: How does this change the responsibility previously carried by official government bodies and what does such a model mean for the next generation of urban project? Can a model such as Spacehive replace the state’s responsibility to deliver and maintain standards in communities including infrastructure and facilities like a community centre?