local communities

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.

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.

Do we own part of this? What Obama’s vision of OFA means for crowdfunding

As the field of civic crowdfunding emerges and grows, it is spawning many competing visions of what the field is and where its appeal comes from. Lately I’ve been thinking about questions such as: how much is crowdfunding about community and shared values? How much is it about physical places? How much is it about a desire to participate and feel agency, and how much is it about ownership?

It’s unlikely to be just one of the above, and surely differs across contexts. But there are instances that present one vision over the others. Last week President Obama made a clear appeal to the last category, ownership, by tweeting this image about Organizing for Action.

Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 5.09.56 PM

Moving Beyond the Question of Whether Neighborhoods Matter

Liveblog of Patrick Sharkey's presentation to the Inequality & Social Policy Seminar Series at Harvard on September 23, 2013.

Patrick SharkeyPatrick Sharkey is an associate professor of sociology at New York University and affiliate of the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service. His research looks at stratification and mobility with a specialized interest in neighborhoods and cities, and he is the author of the recently published book Stuck in Place: Urban Neighborhoods and the End of Progress toward Racial Equality.

His talk entitled "Where, when, why, and for whom do neighborhoods matter?" was based on a just completed review paper, co-authored with Jacob Faber, updating the literature on neighborhood effects (specifically the research looking at cognitive / developmental outcomes), looking at how this literature has been interpreted and evaluated over time, and proposing what is or should be the future of this work.

Sharkey focused on three examples from his own research that suggest ways in which the literature can get beyond what has been long-term hangup in the field in terms of ignoring various contextual factors and nuance in order to answer the question, "do neighborhoods matter?" I found that his insights offered a helpful critique not only to his own sociological subdiscipline but for social scientific research in general, pushing us to never blindly disregard the particular for the universal or play into dominant research narratives.

[Video] Peer economy takeaways from my summer research

Comparative Media Studies @ MIT kicked off the 2013 academic year yesterday with orientation presentations. The second-year CMS grad students pulled together a 10-minute presentation about their thesis topic and summer research and then presented to faculty, staff and incoming graduate students.

I thought you'd be interested!

RE: points in the video -

Mural-ing Our Way to Data Literacy

Last Tuesday Groundwork Somerville officially dedicated their South Street Farm and with it, the exciting new data mural that the Green Team has worked so hard to finish painting.

Hackerspaces and Makerspaces in Detroit and Beyond

I spent this past weekend in Michigan for Maker Faire Detroit at The Henry Ford. There was a lot to see, but I was particularly interested in the hacker/makerspaces. When you hear news about Detroit, it's usually in reference to the many troubles facing the region, like the city's recent bankruptcy filing. But hackerspaces in the region aren't just thriving, they're growing and evolving. They're a great example of how people can collaborate to create their own opportunities for education and entrepreneurship, all while having fun.


Geodesic dome and misting umbrella by GR Makers.

Four roles civic organizations can play in crowdfunding

four_roles_crowdfunding Today I'm giving a talk at the Library of Congress's "Digital Preservation" conference on civic crowdfunding and community assets. I'll be giving a brief overview of crowdfunding, its historical precedents and how it is being used in civic contexts today.

One of the main goals of the presentation is to suggest four roles that civic organizations, including municipal governments, can play in the crowdfunding process.

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