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Here is the civil sandbox entry to the Buckminster Fuller Challenge 2009

Summarize the purpose and key elements of your strategy:
The Civil Sandbox is a proposition for a new kind of city building. As a Sandbox, the environment is designed to be dynamic and exploratory.

There are several key problems being adressed at it’s heart.

1 If you have a big idea, usually you are alone to begin with.
2 If you have an idea that does not fall into the mindset of those who currently hold power/finance then it may not receive support.
3 If you have a truly innovative idea it tends to have a relatively high risk of investment.
4 If you are not from a background that is supportive to your ideas, then you may find it extremely difficult to believe in yourself or your idea.
5 The majority of us do not have the capacity to realise ideas alone.
6 Organisations are full of people with ideas that are never taken forward due to the nature of the organisation.

A new, third-party space which is designed to explore those ideas that are not possible in the ‘real-world’ is the agenda of this building. It is a ‘virtual’ space where we can attempt to realise many of the ideas bubbling out of the general public.

Organisations of all kinds can participate and explore ideas and projects with a hugely reduced risk and on the whole – ease the process of exploration. If an idea doesn’t work, nobody loses much but if it works it could change the world.

The idea to have a new kind of city upgrade is already uncommon. A new form of permanent fixture in a city with a unique function does not appear very often. With this approach, the project has been designed to be very open and to acommodate anyone who needs such a space.

The dynamic nature of the environment of a civil sandbox is also a big step away from most approaches towards city buildings which usually have a set function led by a “top-down approach”. There is a custom virtual infrastructure that has been devised to allow an “internet logic” to exist in a physical space.

Describe the current stage of your initiative and your implementation plan over the next three years:
After eight years of independent research I have reached the stage where I am looking for the right support to remain independent while producing a properly funded research into the early implementation of the idea.

I have, over the years, identified many funding streams but most carry an agenda that disrupts the ‘public domain’ feeling that attracts many people to the project.

Over the next three years my plan is to organise a city-level event which represents the civil sandbox. This ‘Sandbox Festival’ is a ;ethod to involve a large number of people in an exploration of what a civil sandbox can mean.

This is done in a very active and involving way, and not only through a ‘document to document’ approach. Plans for the pilot event are well underway and the pilot event should take place in 2010.

After this, a series of such events moving from city to city to gather the networks and experience necessary to implement a trial phase of permanent city fixtures. This project must be built ‘in-progress’ and involving as many people as possible.

To achieve this I have enlisted many people from famous musicians to media/film networks, technology providers, students, journalists and many others. A festival event acts as a primal version of the building concept where the basic concepts can be built upon.

The Sandbox festival can be seen as a ‘special month in the city where it is okay to shoot for the moon’. The agenda is to encourage those dreamers in the city to really go for it and collectively upgrade the city within the concept of the festival.

Building on the successes of this event we can identify the best approaches towards really designing a permanent city building in the most open qnd exciting way possible.

Describe how your strategy meets the entry criteria (“What We’re Looking For”):
When I discovered that you are looking for a ‘trimtab’ my heart jumped. I’ve spent years talking to thousands of people at all levels to make sure that this strategy-cloud is intact, holistic and involving.

To insert an object like this into an existing system required a huge amount of thought-experimenting with as many aspects of the existing system as I could understand. This led me to speak to some very-high-level people who were unanymously fascinated by the approach and accompanying strategies.

Perhaps I can be so bold to say that I believe this is one of the projects that fits your requirements since it is truly a vast, involving idea that does not attempt to fix one or two problems but actually is a problem solving device. It can be used for 100s of years to come, since the need for change will be everpresent.

Describe the qualifications and experience of you and/or your team and your ability to execute your implementation plan:
I have a background of organising events, both small and large.

I have never done this before but believe that i have the ability to convince people from any relevant background who have the skills and knowledge to realise such a project. I believe this because I’ve spent the last years speaking to literally thousands of people and most of them zould contribute their skills to getting this idea going.

The thing that is missing is that the core team, myself and a few close contributers, have not acquired funding. I remained independent and unfunded to retain the integrity of the project.

You can see videos online about my previous work on city-level events and community actions involving experimental culture. I can show that there are many brilliant people out there who keenly support the development of this work.

Author :
EurActiv Network