Anyone who’s ever tried to get some change to their neighborhood done knows the pain of fighting through a bureaucracy that tends to dampen even the most enthusiastic of spirits. “This activism often occurs on the periphery, in the legal gray areas where there’s nothing to mandate a definitive ‘no’, but also no clear process for how to get an initiative off the ground,” says designer Bryan Boyer.
Together with a team of designers, Boyer and partner Dan Hill, the Strategic Design Leads at Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund, are working to solve this problem with a service they’re calling Brickstarter.
Like its namesake, Kickstarter, Brickstarter is a platform for making it easier for DIY projects to get underway. People can propose projects, with all the usual trappings of video pitches, text updates, funding goals, and deadlines. The big difference is that it is focused on projects run at a neighborhood level, to be conducted in public, and to be connected with civil services and bureaucracy.
For a lengthier discussion of Brickstarter — which I think is incredibly promising, particularly in its focus on illuminating regulatory structures and documenting paths that projects can take through ‘dark matter’ — I recommend Alexandra Lange’s “Against Kickstarter Urbanism”, Bryan and Alexandra’s comments on that piece, and Bryan’s reply on the Brickstarter blog, “For Involved Urbanism”.