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Kickstarter for Neighborhoods Brings Crowdfunding's Potential to Urban Renewal

Spacehive is a London-based company that's helping community centers, parks, and parade organizers get the funding to change their communities.

As the crowdfunding bug continues to spread, the fund-raising strategy has radiated outward from Kickstarter's domain of art and video, to health expenses, to support for local business. Now a new website called Spacehive proposes a way for neighbors to fund public works projects for the betterment of their local communities.

Spacehive's goal is "to make it as easy to fund a new park or playground for your area as buying a book online." While that's a bit ambitious—no matter how great a site's user interface is, it won't negate the slow, bureaucratic process of urban planning approvals—the site does proposal a straightforward way to build awareness about a project and get it funded.

Founded by a team of six Londoners, Spacehive lets you post a description of your project (like a new playground), a promotional video, and a fund-raising goal, and then promote the project to your networks to get donations. Just like Kickstarter, you can only keep the funds if you meet your goal. Projects that have already secured funding through the website include a new community center for the village of Glyncoch, Wales and a 3-meter high model of Queen Elizabeth's head, floated along a canal to celebrate her 60th year in power. Projects in search of funding include a proposed revitalization of a decrepit East London dock.

The service targets creative people who want to improve their neighborhoods but also design professionals looking to fund their big ideas, public institutions and nonprofits with community-based missions, and businesses who see a potential marketing opportunity by investing in a local neighborhood. Ultimately, the site provides a platform for those who want to take the DIY-ethos into the public sphere. "Most of us assume we have to take what we're given when it comes to neighbourhood planning," says Spacehive. "Where do you start if you want to change things?" The answer: online, perhaps.

Image courtesy of Spacehive

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