We’ve been writing a lot lately about spring cleanings and season changes and fresh starts and in the spirit of that I wanted to write about the culmination of a supremely cool local initiative announced this week.
You may have already heard about the Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury’s “Project Impact” but if not here’s the deal in a nutshell. Basically CLS had a small pool of money and invited the public to both contribute to the general pool of dollars as well as submit small projects for funding. The projects had to be focused on community improvements, environmental initiatives and lifestyle improvements and could not exceed $500. Once everything was submitted, the community voted for the projects they wanted and the most votes won. Plain and simple.
Now obviously I like this idea for the simple fact that these projects are all centered around making things better, or prettier or more sustainable in our community but what I also loved was this whole idea of participatory funding & budgeting. Community members deciding how to spend a pool of public money and even contributing to the pot if they so desired. Putting the emphasis on the people to decide how to best spend money in their own neighbourhoods, making all of us accountable for these projects in a way that I don’t know this city has really ever done before. Also, one of the coolest thing to come out of the voting results was not only how many people voted but also how many people voted for projects that were not even earmarked for their own neighbourhoods or even their districts. People still saw the value of a mural in Capreol even if they live in Dowling. We so often hear about how people don’t care what happens outside of their own corner of this city but obviously we do. We want the city to be beautiful no matter what part of it we call home. We want kids to have beautiful parks to play in even if we don’t have kids of our own. People recognize that projects like these serve to benefit the city as a whole, regardless of where they take place. If a mural is painted in Capreol, maybe someone in the South End will see it and want one in their neighbourhood. Plant a butterfly garden in Ryan Heights and the pollinators will spread that loveliness across the city. Show school children how to create animal sanctuaries at school and they will bring that knowledge and desire home with them.
Beauty follows beauty.
This summer will see all these projects come to fruition and I can’t wait to pack up my daughter and visit each one of these new sights. We’re even going to get our hands dirty and not only get our own Project Impact inatiative up and running (more info on that in the coming weeks) but also help out some of the other projects too. Many of these folks need volunteers to get their project done so be sure and visit the Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury page and see how you can get involved too.
I can’t help but think that a similar process should be put into place for the slush funds managed by each individual city councilor. Allowing each ward to submit ideas on how to spend that money and then having members vote on those projects would create such a sense of community as well as ownership and accountability among the citizens. Imagine the variety of things that could be accomplished? This project was proof that you can make a small amount of money go a very, very long way. Especially when you consider that a lot of the projects that didn’t get CLS funding are moving ahead anyway -- projects like the Little Free Library and the yarn bombing of Alexander Public School. People put the time into submitting these projects for consideration and so folks are still finding ways to get them done even without this funding. How’s that for building community partnerships?
Here’s hoping we can find a way to offer Project Impact every year. Our city can only be the better for it.
Here's some press that we got too!
Sudbury Star - Small Projects Look to Make Big Impact in Sudbury
Northern Life - Group Funds Small Projects That Make a Big Impact
Sudbury Media Co-op -- Nine Community Projects Receive Funding