Compendium for the Civic Economy

One of the most useful books we picked up during our precedent study phase was the Compendium for the Civic Economy.

What’s a civic economy? In many ways it is what we hope our tool will help create on a micro scale upon the completion of this project. The authors describe a civic economy as “one which is fundamentally both open and social. It’s an economy which is fusing the culture of web 2.0 with civic purpose.”

The authors of this book are part of a London-based strategy and design practice. Within their practice, they often suggested a way of practicing spatial interventions which did not fit comfortably with the dominant urban policy narrative of the time – but which opened up powerful possibilities, experiences and conversations. On one hand they realized that their ideas were radical and would disrupt the standard community procedures, but on the other hand, they recognized the deep crisis of purpose in the world of regeneration and place-making.

By recognizing that this sort of revolutionary micro-change was necessary, they wanted to manifest a wider range of initiatives, projects and ventures that collectively showed a glimpse of the way forward.

They showcased 25 projects that have ingeniously reformed and enhanced communities all over the world. I believe that the method in which they described the projects, visualized the data, and quantified the results is something that we should use to craft our own tool for the fence-less backyard.

Some of my favorite and the most influential case studies include a waste incinerator in the heart of Hørsholm, Denmark that generates electricity and heats 10,0000 homes through a district heating system; or the “edible” town of Todmorden in the United Kingdom that used “guerrilla-gardening” techniques to create an open, public space out of both public and private lands.

In the case of Hørsholm, for example, the neighborhood clean-tech incinerator diverted 93% of waste from landfills, recycled 60% and incinerated 33% of the waste. As a result, 80% of the local heat generated for 10,000 homes was through the waste-to-energy plant and network and the residents had 30% cheaper heating bills.

I hope to use their method of studying and analyzing these case studies to tell the narrative of the fence-less backyard, visualize the data that could inform the impact of having an undivided intra-block and evaluate the key lessons that can be learned from this project.

You can view the book online and follow their blog for further updates on the publication. 



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