Earlier today, South Philly High launched their fundraising campaign to build a rooftop garden on Projexity, a kickstarteresque crowdfunding platform for urban projects. Projexity is currently in beta testing: the South Philly High School project is one of two projects up for funding on the site.
South Philly Highschool's vision for their garden is truly impressive: a rooftop facility which would aid in stormwater management, produce food, provide an urban agriculture lab for students, and contribute much needed green space to the surrounding community is a pretty appealing proposal.
While there's no doubt that South Philly High and the surrounding community would benefit enormously from the proposed rooftop garden, it's not clear what the long term impacts of a successful (or even unsuccessful) crowdfunded project in a public school would be for the immediate community, and the city as a whole.
It's true that Paine's Park used crowdfunding to finance the finishing touches to get the park up and running, so crowdfunding public works isn't precisely new. However, Projexity is new. And, in a public school system that is increasingly being privatized by charter schools,it's worth wondering if crowdfunding is another shift toward privatization of public works.
Crowdfunding isn't exactly the same at privatization, but note that much of the funding sought by the Projexity campaign will be put toward hiring a Garden Coordinator to oversee the project. None of this is inappropriate, and the coordinator would be getting a pretty meager salary ($17,300,) but it is a shift that could lead to greater privatization within public schools. On the other hand, crowdfunding could represent a powerful way to reinvigorate underfunded public schools without ceding ground to private entities like charters.
· A blossoming vision for South Philly High School [Grid]
· South Philly High School's Greening Plan [Projexity]
· Past Curbed Coverage [Curbed Philly]
· Fundraising Campaing Launches for a Greener South Philly [Passyunk Post]