Crowdfunding Platform Lets Colombian Designers Help Solve Urban Issues

Bogotá is undergoing a cultural and economic revolution, and BoCo allows citizens to actively participate in the process

For quite some time, the South American country of Colombia has been plagued with violence, drug trafficking, and economic crises. Overcoming such hardships is not an easy feat, but its capital city, Bogotá, is revamping its infrastructure and turning to urban design to establish a sense of community and improve quality of life.

Jose Fresnedo, a design student at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, whose originally from Bogota, has created BoCo, a crowdfunding platform for designers living in the Colombian city who want to help solve urban issues. The online platform lets users pitch innovative solutions to social problems, support posted projects, and celebrate successful projects through fundraising events.

BoCo allows users to create a project and seek funding to help realize their vision. Much like Kickstarter, those who choose to support the project will be guaranteed a reward. But instead of giving away product, project owners grant their supporters admission to a wide variety of cultural events.

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The type and size of events depends on the amount of funds raised. Small events such as comedy shows, food tastings, and lectures are put on for projects backed by at least 25 supporters. Bars and theaters host medium sized events in the form of concerts, parties, and screenings. Parks, city blocks, and clubs support large events with 100 or more backers, and these events take the form of block parties, large concerts, and outdoor food festivals.

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The events are a means of gathering the online supporters together, in an offline space. By doing this, BoCo builds real, personal connections and establishes a sense of community.

The online and offline communities also serve as a support network for the new projects. Each project is given a particular hashtag, which can be used across various social media platforms to gain awareness and build support for the cause. A designated comment section also encourages online conversation, and the related events stimulate important face-to-face interaction.

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In a city that has established “car free referendums” and accepted graffiti as a means of fostering community culture, BoCo is an appropriate tool for continuing urban progress. By encouraging design thinking, the site is a both a creative and entrepreneurial outlet for Colombian creatives looking to contribute to the city’s cultural, spatial, and economic redevelopment.

Jose Fresnedo

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