How can a city demonstrate its cultural offerings to its citizens? Create urban beacons that act as visual indicators of local creative activity.
Sometimes it can be hard to demonstrate the breadth of cultural activity that's happening in a city—especially to naysayers who claim there's nothing going on. How can a city showcase its creativity in a way that makes citizens want to be a part of it? As part of GOOD Ideas for Cities St. Louis, Brain Drain presented its idea for making St. Louis's assets more tangible. As they examined the challenge, Brain Drain realized that St. Louis already possessed rich cultural activity—the problem was making it apparent to locals and outsiders. They developed the idea of building a network of large, glowing pillars that would grow brighter depending on the frequency of nearby social media like Tweets, Foursquare check-ins, and Yelp reviews. Using a browser or an app, people would view visualizations that showed the information feeding each pillar, and the pillars themselves would act as beacons in the urban environment: providing lighting (and safety) at night, serving as a kind of public square, and providing free wifi hotspots throughout the city.