Day #053: Adopted pocket parks

Crowdsourcing can trick citizens into putting “We the People” back into government.

Inspired by Michael Bierut’s 100 Day Project, 100 Days to a Better RVA strives to introduce and investigate unique ideas to improving the city of Richmond. View the entire project here and the intro here.

  • Idea: Crowdsourced adopted green spaces and pocket parks.
  • Difficulty: 2 — This would work best outside of the city government. The program doesn’t need to be flawless, it just needs to feel organic and be engaging.

The Internet has brought crowdsourcing to scale while creating some tools that are, for lack of a better term, really cool. Crowdsourcing should be used to adopt dead spaces around Richmond in order to create micro pocket parks and green spaces.

Few crowdsourced projects for cities are as simple and elegant as Adopt a Hydrant in Boston. Created by Code for America, the site allows citizens to claim responsibility for shoveling out fire hydrants after heavy snowfall–a task that would take Boston employees hundreds of hours and cost thousands of dollars.

In an age where Kennedy’s “shared sacrifice” is largely forgotten and trust in government feels near nonexistent, Code for America has somehow tricked people into an incredible, effective, and non-glamorous act of community. It makes sense considering their motto is, “Government Can Work For The People, By The People, In The 21st Century. Let’s Make It Work.”

Richmond doesn’t experience fire-hydrant-burying snowfall, but the idea could be applied to adopting spaces for micro pocket parks and green spaces. How many dead 5’ x 5’ gaps exist in Richmond sidewalks where trees used to live?

In a perfect Richmond, every space would be landscaped and maintained, but that’s simply too expensive and demanding for a city government burdened by much bigger problems. Here, spaces could be designated and adopted via a simple website similar to Adopt a Hydrant. Citizens would plant and maintain the spaces.

For some, it could be as simple as some grass in a plot in front of their homes or at the end of the block, for others it could be urban farming or involve benches, bird baths, or Little Free Libraries. In parts of town devoid of dead spaces to adopt, boxes or large planters could be built–with open-sourced DIY instructions.

As the idea is adopted and matures, seed exchanges, tool shares, and competitions could all enhance the service, In the end, citizens improve the city at no cost to Richmond while strengthening community, improving property values, aesthetics, and health.

Projects that once seemed impossible or impractical are becoming a reality in Richmond. A decade ago, who thought the Richmond Mural Project was possible? This is just one idea as to how crowdsourcing and the internet could improve Richmond. Do you have any other ideas?

Love this idea? Think it’s terrible? Have one that’s ten times better? Head over to the 100 Days to a Better RVA Facebook page and join in the conversation.

Photo by: dan reed!

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Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams loves music, basketball (follow @rvaramnews!), family, learning, and barbecue sauce.

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