local communities | MIT Center for Civic Media

People in local geographic areas may need help communicating with each other in order to collaborate in building and sustaining healthy communities. Grassroots action at any level - neighborhoods, towns, or cities - can help improve local services, welcome newcomers, and develop cultural, economic and political capital.

Civic Lunch: Jon Rubin on Conflict Kitchen

Today's guest is Jon Rubin, who teaches contextual practice for socially and contextually engaged art at Carnegie Mellon. This is a live blog by Rahul Bhargava, Catherine D'Ignazio, and others - don't be surprised by typos or inconsistent tone!

Conflict Kitchen came out of what they don't have in Pittsburgh. They've never sent out a press release, but coverage has never stopped (AP, A Jazeera). Jon shows us an al Jazeera clip about Conflict Kitchen to introduce the project:

Quantity & Quality of Our Parks in Somerville & Cambridge

The following is a guest post by Namasha Shelling, who works as a Project Coordinator at the Harvard School of Public Health.  Namasha and I have collaborated to build on The Public Land Trust's (TPL) metrics around parks and communities. TPL published their methodology and results openly, and this post is built on that valuable contribution they have made!

Park Quality: Why we should care, not only about the quantity of parks, but QUALITY of parks in our neighborhoods

According to the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a non-profit that works on land conservation in the US, parks are known to reduce crime, revitalize local economies, increase physical activity, and in turn bring communities together. How many times have we heard this sort of phrase before? Not that it isn’t true… but it doesn’t matter how many parks your neighborhood has, if people don’t want to use the parks. 

Scaling the unicorns: Diverse perspectives that serve the public good

In a room of urban planners, architects, engineers, data viz experts, designers, programmers, and media professionals, we asked, “how do we scale the unicorns?”

Unicorns are those perspectives we need, the ones we easily demand but are hard to find. Women coders, technologists in local government, architects in humanitarian aid, geographers in newsrooms.

Unicorns, by rahuldlucca on Flickr

Crowdfunding as a Community Development Tool

It's been a pleasure to spend the past few weeks in Kansas City learning more about how non-profit organizations are using crowdfunding in their work, and are shaping how communities understand what crowdfunding represents and what goals it can help them achieve.

On January 30th I was delighted to be asked to give the keynote at Kansas City Community Capital Fund's Annual Community Development Workshop, at the Kaufman Center.

Fund Camp, A Crowdfunding Workshop for Non-Profits

Today in Kansas City I hosted Fund Camp, a workshop for non-profits on what civic crowdfunding is, how to decide whether it's the right path for a project and how to do it effectively. It's a format I've been working on for the past year, informed by my research and the issues and challenges I've seen arise across many civic projects.

[Peer economy] The home stretch!

The radio silence is over; the last time I posted specifically for the Civic blog was fall 2013. I'm not continuing onto a Ph.D. after June, so before I leave my post as an academic who researches the peer economy, I'm going to report what I'm seeing and sensing as I see and sense it.

20-20! Get it?! This will also be the last semester of bad puns.

To keep myself accountable, here's a smattering of what I'll dive into this semester:

What's civic about civic crowdfunding?

Last week I gave a talk at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society's Cooperation Group about my work on civic crowdfunding to date. A central question in the group was how we define civic crowdfunding projects, as distinct from non-civic ones.

Four models for civic organizations to crowdfund

A few months ago I gave a talk at the Library of Congress's "Digital Preservation" conference in Washington, DC, in which I suggested four models that civic organizations could use to crowdfund projects: promoter, curator, facilitator and platform.

Thanks to the ending of the government shutdown, I now have the video of my presentation, which is below. You can read also a short writeup of the talk I posted earlier. My slides are here.

What’s wrong with crowdfunding your own security?

Photo CC by conner395Last week the emergence of three separate crowdfunding campaigns for private security patrols in Oakland's Lower Rockridge and Uplands neighborhoods provoked a lot of debate and criticism. For some people, it was a clear example of crowdfunding crossing a line.