Bryan Boyer and Dan Hill may be saints, sent down on high by the God of City Planning. They have come up with a tool that may actually make the process of improving a neighborhood less tedious, less difficult, and less prone to 10-hour-long community meetings in which everyone has to say what they think. It’s not finished yet, but if Brickstarter, a crowdsourcing tool for community projects, does what it promises, starting a community garden or a co-working space may no longer take years off your life, both in time and in stress.
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.
One of the best bits of this idea is that Brickstarter projects ask the crowd for more than just money. Backers can contribute by coming to meetings or by donating their time. (Project runners can ask for “seven hours of a lawyer” or “three hours of a plumber.”) The goal of all this is to “reverse the polarity from NIMBY to YIMBY” — to develop a community of supporters before getting to the point where you have to go a community board meeting with your precious, well-developed idea in hand and have it shouted down because someone doesn’t like the color of the awning you proposed.