The built world around us, while often adequate for our needs, could be a lot better. This is where design activism comes in: starting projects to fulfill ever-present community needs ranging from beautification to health. Examples of these projects run the gamut of scale, from the High Line in New York and UpGarden in Seattle to the neighborhood gardens and skate parks built on abandoned lots. Often, design activism fills a void left by developers and city governments which tend to focus on larger-scale interventions. It then falls to neighborhood and community groups to effect the changes they want to see, rather than simply asking for them.
However, there are many obstacles for the potential builder/maker/designer, including having to go through permits, needed to change an intransigent bureaucratic culture and, of course, fundraising. The heavy lifting required to get past these impediments is usually enough to discourage all but the most determined designers; they can even stall something as simple as installing streetlights at parks.
In order to facilitate grass-roots design projects Bryan Boyer and Dan Hill, Stratregic Design Leads at Sitra (The Finnish Innovation Fund), have started designing a new service called Brickstarter, based off of the more general project-helper Kickstarter. Brickstarter will provide a location for networks of design activists to coordinate their efforts. Project fans can help out with that omnipresent necessity, money, but can also donate time, labor, publicity, and support. Brickstarter is also slightly more rigorous than its namesake, incorporating time management strategies into its design: events are scheduled and a timeline is adhered to. It also keeps track of permits and other obstacles for the project. Right now, Brickstarter is still in prototyping and testing with an alpha launch coming later this year.
Images: Brickstarter, Sitra Finnish Innovation Fund via Wired Design