When the smallest city in the littlest state is emerging from a bankruptcy declared in 2011, the budget for a project such as trash cans for the public park is not just small – it’s nonexistent.
The lack of municipal funding didn’t stop 24-year-old Central Falls Director of Planning and Economic Development Stephen Larrick from finding another way to buy the trash cans – and not just any trash cans.
Larrick came up with a plan to get funding for artistic, functional and culturally relevant trash and recycling cans for the city’s Jenks Park through a somewhat uncommon route for municipal projects – crowd funding.
The Clean Up CF: New Bins in Jenks Park fundraising project is live online at citizinvestor.com, the crowd funding and civic-engagement platform for government projects.
“I’ve used crowd funding before on Kickstarter to help support a friend’s film and few other projects,” said Larrick, who graduated from Brown University in 2011 with a focus on urban studies.
About a year ago, Larrick began to watch a startup called Citizinvestor, a sort of municipal version of Kickstarter, where towns and cities could post projects online in hopes of attracting money from interested investors beyond municipal borders.
Considering Central Falls’ size of one-square-mile, it didn’t take much stretching to reach out across city lines to seek funding for new trash cans.
Then, in one of those small-world, Rhode Island connections, Larrick found Central Falls linked, by coincidence, with an Ocean State native in Tampa, Fla., Citizinvestor co-founder Tony DeSisto.
“I didn’t know him and had never even heard his name before,” said Larrick, who is from Massachusetts. “I had no idea he was from Rhode Island.”
Larrick’s interest in posting the Jenks Park trash-can project on Citizinvestor found its way to DeSisto.
“Steve happened to email us to say he was interested in posting a project,” said DeSisto, a Portsmouth native. “It was during the time I was up in Rhode Island in the summer visiting family. It was fortuitous. I was able to go to Central Falls and meet with some of the department heads. It’s not something we usually do. I’d done that only a couple of times on projects in Florida. “
The personal meeting just made the Central Falls project stand out a little bit, said DeSisto.