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With Plan for Prize, TED Promises Cash Awards to Boost Civic Life

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, March 1 2012

This year's 2012 TED Prize is going to the concept of "The City 2.0," the vision of a city of the future, that includes a new online platform to crowdsource ideas for improving the 21st century city.

To that end, TED plans to distribute the usual $100,000 prize money as ten grants of $10,000 to local projects, all of which will be announced at the TED Global conference in June. According to Fast Company's Co.Exist, TED will announce the details of the grant awarding process in the coming months,

As part of the different approach this year, according to Atlantic Cities, TED got its process started by reaching out to experts and activists, among them the Harvard economist Edward Glaeser, Whole Earth Catalog author Stuart Brandt, artist Candy Chang, green building guru William McDonough, and Robert Hammond, co-conceiver of the High Line in New York.

As is customary for TED, which first announced this year's winner in the fall before the conference, the award of the prize goes hand-in-hand with a "wish" expressed by the winner. In this case, that was expressed in a film that represents the vision of the world leaders, advocates and city officials that TED reached out to. Text in the video states:

I wish to be inclusive, innovative, healthy, soulful, thriving…..Share your tools, data, designs, successes, and ideas. Turn them into action. Together you can bridge the gap between poor and rich communities. Spectacularly reduce your carbon footprint. Make nature part of daily life. Empower entrepreneurship. Re-imagine education. Nurture health.

Co.Exist noted that while TED has emphasized the open and collaborative nature of the project, the crafting of the "wish" appears to have happened behind closed doors.

TED hosted a “City 2.0 Wish Brainstorm” meeting in January to which it invited executives from IBM, Autodesk, and Razorfish (which ultimately built the site) along with the economist Paul Romer, the architect Joshua Prince-Ramus, former Google global public policy director Andrew McLaughlin, and Long Beach vice-mayor Suja Lowenthal, all of whom were asked to make brief presentations, synthesize their individual wishes, “and attempt to write a draft wish based on the discussion.”

City 2.0 "is the city of the future in which more than ten billion people must somehow live happily, healthfully, and sustainably," according to a TED statement.

The site does not yet appear to be completely up and running, but promises to connect people to one another around ideas that might make their cities better.

"This site will inspire and enable citizens to engage in an upgrade of their own cities through a range of projects that they can propose – and lead," according to TED. "It will invite mayors, architects, engineers, urban planners, non-profits, multinational companies, and others to freely share ideas, tools, and resources."

The project is also being supported by a $250,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and its Technology for Engagement Initiative, as well as by IBM’s Smarter Cities initiative, Razorfish, and Autodesk.

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