Placemaking for Communities

Richard Florida tweeted this link from Project for Public Spaces. It’s telling that communities are thriving by creating places based on input from the stakeholders in the community, as opposed to the old project-based and design-led process. Perhaps all communities (virtual and real) can learn from this.

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via hubvine:

Smaller specialized social supports

When I think of a “smarter city” I don’t think of a city at all.  I think of a group of communities with defined functions that contribute to a whole.  This city does not look like a city in another way; it is small.  Something as large as what a city is thought of being by most is exactly what I’m not interested in living in.  However such a city might be surrounded by the feeder communities that I would prefer.  I feel that the biggest difference between what now exists and what I envision is the strangulation factor that all large cities seem to grow into.  The small community within the larger is big boxed out by more “efficient” business.  Workplaces, schools, and finally people are diminished by lack of the very social exchanges and supports that once brought them together to become the city that now has disassociated them. 

Picture a city’s core of commerce as we currently know it.  To keep it simple, it has one downtown hub that functions as a center of technology, entertainment, and distribution center.  People fled from such places to create the suburbs, where they could have a patch of green and associate like human beings longed to do.   They too, became toxic as the creep of “big commerce” overtook them.  And so the “bedroom community” was born.  We fled farther and farther as we tried to keep our individualism, our very identities from being swallowed up by the black hole of progress.

I would like to suggest that a well planned city of today should retain that core but rather than flee from it ever farther, a succesful model would have radiating communities from this hub.  Each community (there may be more than one or two of each type) would support a lifestyle that is shared by it’s inhabitants.  Each would foster an educational experience, from k-work that supports it.  Barter would be a much larger player amongst these sattelite communities than exists today in services, goods and manpower.  Each would be a cohesive part of the whole and a compliment from which the “inner city” would draw it’s workforce, it’s food stuffs, it’s hard goods, and all the other things that make a city run.  No one would be lost.  People would change and enhance themselves by moving around the circle or moving to another city circle all together that might feature a more inviting way of being which is unique to that city circle. 

Consumers that design the products they want to buy

Usually we see consumers as passive buyers, reacting to advertising, and choosing from the available products in the market and we expect producers to make statistics of their sales in order to understand what people wants to buy.

Now, by using web tools, it would be quite easy to create communities of consumers that work together designing the products they would like to buy. These communities could for instance imagine possible new features to a HiFi set, or modify the design of a sport shoe. Then, these features and products could been voted by everyone, so the fittest could be potential new products that can be materialized by manufacturers interested in it. Consumers would obtain products more adapted to their needs and producers would have new products that are supported by many potential buyers. If a consumer is involved in the development of a product, surely he would like to buy it and promote it.

The idea is simple, yet powerful, since it opens a new communication channel between consumers and producers.