You want infrastructure

On Kickstarter, you have to go public with your idea at a fast and furious pace to reach your launch goal. The approach is not typical for nonprofits, which usually turn privately to board members, previous donors, and foundations to get projects rolling. Yes, we’ve definitely had those quiet discussions during the past year, but once Kickstarter was unleashed three weeks ago, we entered a different realm, taking donations as well as questions, comments, and challenges directly from the public.

Twitter is working for the Uni. Librarians are all over it.

And we have to say, it has been invaluable. We’ve now got a growing a base of contacts and donors from around the globe. We’re talking directly to passionate and committed individuals and organizations who are investing early in our idea. Our phone is ringing, and it feels like a start-up in the office. We’re hooked.

One idea that you’ve picked up on is our belief in lightweight, inexpensive infrastructure which allows cities, institutions, and organizations to respond more quickly to the needs of citizens and experiment with what works. We think the Uni is that kind infrastructure: modular, portable, configurable to almost any available space, outdoors or in, with a core program of books and the ability to offer a wide range of educational and community-oriented activities through partnerships.

Here’s a look at some of the ways you have specifically asked us to consider deploying the Uni in your city. You want:

  • a quickly deployable stand-in for a library branch being rebuilt;
  • an outreach tool for a city coalition of cultural and nonprofit organizations;
  • a reading room on the grounds of a hospital for patients and visitors;
  • an alternating installation between two, different ethnic neighborhoods, establishing ties between them;
  • a structure to temporarily demonstrate innovative library technology and usage models at a conference; and
  • a user-friendly tool for student groups on the grounds of an urban university.

We’re focused on our plan for launching in New York this fall, but, like a start-up, we recognize that the best ideas may be ones that are not our own. Keep calling. We’re listening.

Comments are closed.

The Uni Project is the operating name (DBA) of Street Lab, a 501c3 nonprofit.