Walk into the mural-covered 14,000-square-foot space in San Francisco’s Central market district and you’ll see a flurry of seemingly organized activity: people manning desks in the front, a day-by-day schedule scribbled in chalk on the wall, someone sweeping the floor, a family examining the makings of a slide (soon to be set up, but no one yet knows where) a cake being cut in the kitchen, and people tending the large garden out back. This isn’t some quirky new startup: it’s Freespace, a monthlong experiment in civic hacking. Mike Zuckerman, the director of sustainability for the Zen Compound, secured a $1 monthlong lease for June in the warehouse-like space, with a little help from ReAllocate and the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development. He didn’t have specific agenda for the space, which was inspired by the National Day of Civic Hacking (June 1 and 2)–an event that asks participants to us technology to solve pressing civic issues.
One of the real innovations here is that this is a temporary self-organized effort whose metrics favor creating inspiration incubators and new connection possibilities in the community.
The design is stark contrast to the old school approach of top-down institution building. A whole different approach to sustainability.