Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Crowdsourcing Places for Creatives

Before I became interested (or as my wife says, addicted) to politics, I was interested in urban planning.  I still keep up on planning issues, as I serve on the Plan and Zoning Commission in my town.

One of the planning websites that I visit frequently is CoolTown Studios. I love the site because it looks at things from a slightly different angle and highlights cool, authentic places that make neighborhoods and towns unique.  Last week, CoolTown Studios posted their top 20 articles of all time and I thought I'd share them here...

By popular request, here are what I feel are the top 20 articles among the 1400 on this site, influenced by current times. This will be constantly changing, especially as I rediscover previous articles and post new ones (in bold)...

Crowdsourcing and creatives…
The creatives: rengen, cultural creatives, creative class - Identifying the core market itself.
What is crowdsourced placemaking? - The most definitive definition.
The time is now to crowdsource the places you want - Get started now.
The beta community - The crowdsourced placemaking community that makes it all happen.
The four different kinds of beta communities - The four kinds of projects beta communities can help generate.

The impact of natural cultural districts - The best academic definition for the places that attract creatives.
The third place - The fundamental unit of a natural cultural district.
Cultivating your own Temple Bar District - One of the most inspiring stories of how a natural cultural district was saved and now flourishing.
Happiness best reflected by the beauty of place - Aesthetics matter to people more than anything.
The ‘postcard test’ - A litmus test for a place’s aesthetics, beauty.

The economic foundation…
If there was ever one definitive graphic, this is it - A table that illustrates our evolution from an industrial to a knowledge economy.
Digital infrastructure replacing an asphalt one - The physical environment to accommodate modern needs.
The Experience Economy - A better description of our modern economy than simply ‘the information age’ or ‘knowledge economy’.
Creatives ahead of the financial crisis - How the preferences of creatives, and not so big homes, are better suited to a sustainable economy.
How the creative class relates to the economy - Visual evidence of how creatives grow an economy.

Innovative examples…
The most innovative government agency in the U.S. - The New York City Department of Transportation.
NYC's stunning 'streets to plazas' program - A model program for creating pedestrian-only destinations.
Ten defining principles for a true green community - Benchmark principles and communities for zero carbon, zero waste communities.
Paris launches world's largest bike sharing system - No bike sharing system in the world comes close.
Elements hits the Washington Post front page - A crowdsourced restaurant gets national exposure.

Recently dropped from the Top 20
More evidence that 'not so big homes' are in - Smaller homes are the creative American Dream
Affordability's secret weapon - the 'ipad’ - A stylish 380 s.f. one-bedroom in the UK.

So what does this have to do with Iowa politics?  Over the past two years, Iowa has focused on reversing the brain drain in the state.  Lawmakers are looking at different policies that would lower the cost of college, forgive student loans, and raise wages.  I think all of these are very important.  However, it wouldn't hurt for Iowa to build some more cool places. I am not just talking about building cool places in Des Moines, Iowa City, and Cedar Rapids, but in Iowa's small towns too.

Over the next few months, I hope to write more about how Iowa can build some of these cool places and highlight some of the cool places in Iowa.  

CootTown Studios defines crowdsourced placemaking as...

the act of taking development traditionally performed by real estate conglomerates and outsourcing it to a large, defined group of people in the form of an open call, to transform the places we find ourselves into the places where we live, as ‘places of the soul’ that uplift and help us connect to each other. 
 So to keep in line with those thoughts, feel free to chime in with your thoughts and share any cool places in your town.

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