20140322-screenshotFive years ago this month I launched the community improvement website RichmondBrainstorm.com. The site allowed users to submit ideas for ways to make Richmond, Indiana a better place, allowed other users to discuss and vote on those ideas, and shared success stories of ideas that had been implemented. I created the site because I think it's important for a given community to shape its own course for the future instead of waiting for solutions from state and national governments, and because I was tired of hearing good, creative ideas from others that never seemed to get the attention or visibility they deserved.

In the time since, some 86 community improvement ideas were submitted and discussed, and a number of the ideas became real projects that were implemented. The site got over 140,000 visits from around 45,000 unique visitors. I've also received contact from people other communities around the country asking for help to create a similar resource in their city, and so the idea of an online community improvement idea inventory seems to itself have become an idea worth spreading.

But, after an initial period of significant activity, the Richmond Brainstorm site had become largely dormant, with no new ideas submitted to it in close to a year. Over the years I've regularly talked to local community development organizations who have said the concept of the site is an exciting one and could even be integrated into their own efforts at prompting further conversations and action, but as yet Richmond does not seem to be a place where most of those kinds of conversations want to happen online, for better or worse. That combined with the time that it takes to keep the site's software current, deal with spammers and perform other administrative tasks has begun to outweigh the value that I think RichmondBrainstorm.com is currently bringing to the community.

So, as of today I'm shutting the site down.

I'm including below a list of the titles of all of the ideas submitted to the site. Each one came with more detail and discussion on the site itself, but hopefully this gives you a sense of the kind of ideas that were out there.

Thanks to everyone who submitted an idea, voted or commented. I look forward to seeing what new and interesting ways people might use technology tools to explore ideas for community improvement, in Richmond and beyond.

RichmondBrainstorm.com ideas, 2009-2014:

  • Disc Golf in Glen Miller
  • Utilize the Depot District - Summer Saturdays
  • Marketing 'Richmond Brainstorm'
  • Community Policing - Involvement
  • Five Action Strategies for Transforming Communities
  • Create an institutional brand for Richmond
  • Host an ArtPrize contest
  • Brand neighborhoods to increase community spirit
  • Allow food carts and trucks
  • Host an Internet Cat Video Festival
  • A website/link for animal control in a positive way!
  • Put Rose City Transit Schedule Online
  • Improve walkways for the disabled
  • Improve second story building use in the central business district
  • Address misinformation and incorrect facts presented in public dialog
  • Encourage gourmet fast food stands in the central business district
  • Increase green spaces in the central business district
  • Help business district workers take advantage of buying locally
  • Make the downtown parking garage more user-friendly
  • Host a technology education series
  • Offer business loans at lower rates
  • Have First Friday arts/culture events
  • Promote simple volunteer campaign
  • Workshops on earth friendly construction methods
  • Beyond Facebook
  • Make Richmond Brainstorm known to the community.
  • BBQ & Bike Rental, Cardinal Greenway Trail
  • Install a climbing wall in downtown Richmond
  • Pushing the use of free software and RSS for the pal-item website.
  • SHARE YOUR VOICE - RCS Parent Survey
  • Depot as Destination/Venue
  • Room-and-board-and-bandwidth incubator in the Starr District
  • Expand Tom's New York Deli
  • Glen Miller Lake boardwalk and fountain
  • Support Richmond All America City Participants
  • Promote the Wright Brothers` History in Richmond
  • Promote Fountain City and Underground Railroad
  • Put the Conference Center back on the table
  • Fish Fry at the Local Richmond Reservoir
  • Richmond School System Single Website to post events and activities
  • Join our Facebook Group "I Love Richmond Indiana"
  • We must re-establish a manufacturing base in this community.
  • Expand Jazz Park Walk Of Fame idea to Uptown sidewalks
  • After School Activities
  • Work to create a more positive attitude within the community
  • Catalog and publicize past community growth studies and reports
  • Create walking/biking history tours of Richmond
  • Establish a local speakers bureau
  • "Hire a Local Artist" Month
  • Fruit for Everyone Fundraising Event: Edible Cityscapes
  • Replace downtown parking enforcement with good-will ambassadors
  • Create and Support an Arts and Culture Council
  • Set up a Local Exchange Trading System
  • Free or Discounted Housing for Cops in Central Neighborhoods
  • Create public graffiti mural spaces
  • Community Greenhouses
  • Produce neighborhood rain barrel training/installation events
  • Create a Campus - Community Partnership for Sustainability
  • Create a community pride campaign
  • Create a Freegeek Richmond location
  • Install bike racks in key destination areas
  • Create a local BALLE network
  • Host a 48-hour film project event
  • Create a guide to edible plant life in the area
  • Create a Interfaith Forum for Dialogue Re: Science and Spirituality
  • Municipal Adoption of the Oil Depletion Protocol
  • Legalize Certified Professional Midwives in the State of Indiana
  • Have a community conversation about teen pregnancy
  • Great Food sharing
  • City-Wide Wifi
  • Gathering Fall Fruit
  • Designated Bike Paths
  • Greetings as awareness
  • Gas Works Community Center
  • Renew our sidewalk infrastructure
  • Create a swap spot
  • Launch the Wayne County Time Bank
  • Improve funding for WayNet.org
  • Create a "Buy Fresh, Buy Local" local food brand
  • Create a Car Sharing Program
  • Start Community Gardens
  • Have more potluck meals
  • Create community tool sheds
  • Use Freecycling to find treasures and save money
  • Create a Local Stock Market
  • New Media Summit