Spaces to Places

Transforming Public Spaces into Vibrant Places for the Community.

Power of the Crowd

Written by Bridget Anderson, Patronicity

Public spaces are important for the development and vibrancy of local cities and towns, and a placemaking approach empowers locals to play a role in the projects. As citizens are patrons of our public spaces, many feel empowered to also be critical investors in their creation. When it comes to placemaking and public space investments, those dollars can go even further because of an innovative approach called “crowdgranting”. 

We are Patronicity, a crowdfunding platform born out of Detroit and designed to empower communities to build their placemaking projects. We’ve helped over 550 projects fund over $15 million and a key part of that success has been our public-private partnerships with grant giving organizations. 

State partners, like the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, are looking to spur economic growth and empower communities to develop public spaces most needed locally. This creates an opportunity for individual cities, towns, and non-profit community organizations to harness the power of their crowd to crowdgrant for available state funding.

Our granting partners are looking to create economic development opportunities, and understand that grassroots activations of space come from community-driven grassroots campaigns. These funders are not only interested in just solving problems in communities, but empowering communities to be part of the solution. Here are some examples of the challenges our communities face:

Several abandoned farm silos


Whether it’s an empty alleyway or an abandoned silo, these are spaces that need change and are ripe for improvement from a community that has a stake in how these problems are solved. 

While the granting dollars can be a big incentive, it starts with a creative story. The Patronicity  platform is designed to help communities tell their story, ensure it’s aligned with the granting entity, and help them extend their reach. Part of telling that story is not only knowing what will motivate donors, but connect those donors to the space you are looking to improve. Anytime a community can tap into its unique history and culture, the better a project will develop. 

We also provide strategies and best practices for success but communities are still in-charge of their own success. Crowdfunding is not a replacement for traditional fundraising and the personal connection to donors and the space makes a difference. In fact, we recommend our project leaders get community members engaged at every level including design, marketing, building, and events. 

People working on building a community garden


Tapping into the communities ideas, skills, resources, and funds can make placemaking more powerful. After a successful campaign, communities use the money to make transformations like this:

A image of the resulting transformation of an abandoned farm area


These images are powerful. It’s more than just about how pretty they look, but that these spaces are more welcoming. Residents and outsiders are seeing these spaces and changing their perspective on what is possible. Many communities report new investments, new businesses, and renewed collective energy stemming from their successful online campaigns and galvanizing their neighbors behind a shared identity. These ripple effects are exactly why funders see the value in providing a match. 

Crowdgranting is innovating a traditional fundraising model because it is people and place centric while optimizing outcomes through collaboration and harnessing the power of a crowd. 

A billboard for the patroncity project



Community Outreach Programs

Housing Opportunity Grant
Housing Opportunity Grants support state and local REALTOR® Associations’ affordable housing activities. The goal of the program is to position REALTORS® as leaders in improving their communities by creating affordable housing

Smart Growth Grant
Smart growth is an approach to development that encourages a mix of building types and uses, diverse housing and transportation options, development within existing neighborhoods, and community engagement. The Smart Growth Program offers state and local REALTOR® Associations to way to engage with government officials, community partners and the general public in planning and designing community’s future.

Planned diversity initiatives makes good business sense. REALTOR® Associations with well-planned diversity programs create a stronger sense of community, particularly in neighborhoods with high concentrations of foreign-born and minority residents who are moving up the socioeconomic ladder and are buying homes.

NAR Placemaking Resources

Placemaking Guide: A Guide to Transform a Public Space into a Community Place
REALTORS® and state and local association staff can learn the details of Placemaking, the kinds of projects placemaking entails, how to organize them, and where to go for assistance and resources.

Placemaking Webinar Series
Our Placemaking Webinar Series will provide more in depth information on the various types of Placemaking and how REALTORS® were involved in Placemaking activities in their communities.

Placemaking Grant
The Placemaking Grant funds the creation of new public spaces, like pocket parks, trails & gardens, in a community. The grant focuses on “lighter, cheaper, quicker” placemaking projects, which can be built under a year and cost less  than $200,000.

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Smart Growth

The healthier a community, the better the environment for REALTORS®. Keeping a community attractive, livable and functioning well is a complex task.