The "sharing economy" continues to expand in new and exciting ways, and the Hampline in Memphis, Tennessee project is a great example.
The Hampline is a protected bike lane connecting Overton Park and Shelby Farms Greenline in Memphis, part of the national Bikes Belong Green Lane Project. It will include two-way protected lanes lined with public art, and it's thought to be the most innovative bicycle infrastructure ever to be built in the U.S.
Apart from increasing greenspace and decreasing traffic, the Hampline represents another step in the evolution of participatory democracy and local decision-making: crowd-sourced civic infrastructure. Livable Memphis, Broad Ave Arts District, and the Binghampton CDC led a coalition of dozens of community groups came together and raised almost 95% of the $4.5 million for project, and now ioby is working to help crowd-source the rest.
Some may argue - rightly or wrongly - that a public infrastructure project is the provenance of municipal or regional governments, or that government should not be absolved of or shunt responsibility for providing public spaces and civic goods. It is true that, in the era of belt-tightening and innovations in funding mechanisms, finding an appropriate balance will be work.
But one should also view the Hampline through the hopeful looking-glass. Non-profits and community-based organizations - who are often marginalized in decision-making, budgets, and in the media - worked together to achieve something tangible, concrete, and of value to wider Memphis metropolis. It is also a taking back of control and a giving of a sense of empowerment. Increasing local and truly inclusive decision-making is a valuable goal, one that even The King should be proud is happening in his hometown. And, biking will certainly help burn off some of his fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches!