Projexity and Democracy

Today on Metro Morning, there was a short feature on Projexity, a “new and better way for anyone to initiate and manage neighborhood improvement projects.” This is a pretty great idea, but I feel some hesitation at the way it’s being billed as a tool for “democratizing urban change.”

Is this a much-needed tool for organizing communities? Yes! Is the Market 707 patio (their first Toronto project) a worthwhile thing to contribute to? Absolutely!

But if your ‘vote’ is contingent on getting financial backing, then it’s not a democratic process, it’s just crowd-sourcing. There are only certain neighbourhoods that are going to be able to do this. Fine, that’s how it goes. Can projects be proposed and funded in low income neighbourhoods? I guess so. But if the locals can’t fund the project, then how much say will they get? 

That doesn’t mean it’s not a perfectly legitimate way to do get.shit.done in a city that spends all of this time going back-and forth about plastic bags, non-existent subways, and Hero Burger. It’s merely the branding that makes me uncomfortable. 

PS: 1% of funds gathered from successful projects goes into the Projexity Improvement Fund, “driving revitalization to areas of the city that need it most.” That’s cool.

One thought on “Projexity and Democracy

  1. Hi Jacqueline,

    Thank you so much for writing about us; I wanted to address a few of your concerns about Projexity. Regarding the voting process on designs, it is open to everyone, regardless of whether you are a financial sponsor or not. We also hope to team up with more local community centers to allow people who don’t have access to a computer to vote from a centralized location on projects in their community.

    Like you, we are very concerned about the ability of lower income neighbourhoods to get better urban spaces; we absolutely realize that Yorkville may be able to gather funding from local residents more easily than let’s say Dundas + Bathurst/Alexandra Park – where our first project is located; there is just so much inequality between neighbourhoods and their access to good, well-funded public spaces. This is also where the Projexity improvement fund comes in: it’s a way to re-invest funds into projects that need them direly, in hopes that we can help level the playing field.

    Finally we are going to be launching additional features in the coming few weeks that will allow people to post projects at a much earlier stage of development, this will enable urban improvement ideas to gather exposure, support and designs without necessarily having to provide a full proposal right away (it’s a way for communities to unite and build their own proposals together).

    Thanks again for starting this conversation! Stay on board, it’s going to be a great ride!


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