New Collaborative Aims to Create Vibrant Public Spaces in Michigan


Move over Kickstarter — there’s a new crowdfunding website in town, and it’s designed specifically to support efforts that create public spaces across Michigan.

Public Spaces Community Places — a collaborative effort of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., the Michigan Municipal League, and Detroit-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity — allows residents to make donations toward projects that focus on the activation of public spaces (i.e., an outdoor plaza or park enhancements).

Projects that meet their crowdfunding goals will receive a matching grant of up to $100,000 from the MEDC.

“Public Spaces Community Places is a new tool communities can use to help create vibrant public spaces with the potential to bring new vitality to the community and serve as a catalyst for additional economic activity,” says Michael A. Finney, president and CEO of MEDC. “This is a great way to leverage the pride residents and businesses have in their communities.”

As part of a pilot project for the website, Midtown Detroit will be the first to utilize the service with a campaign for its latest Green Alley Project. The organization aims to raise $50,000 to transform the alley between Selden and Alexandrine, from Second to Third avenues, in an effort to encourage pedestrian walkability and community connectivity. If Midtown Detroit reaches its goal by July 25, MEDC will provide a matching grant of $50,000.

“The idea of creating something sustainable and impactful for the community, like the Selden and Second Green Alley, out of something so blighted, has really resonated in the Midtown community,” says Sue Mosey, president of Midtown Detroit, which aims to raise $200,000 in total for the alley project. “The partnership with the MEDC on their new Public Spaces Community Places initiative through Patronicity’s crowdfunding platform allows us to utilize a new tool to further engage our local community and leverage ($100,000) already granted by Shinola.”

Starting July 9, communities, nonprofits, and other business entities can apply for a crowdfunding campaign at MEDC, the League, and Patronicity will then review and score potential projects based on a number of factors, such as overall community impact and local financial commitment.