Chicago: the new capitol of community-based goodness?

So, what is it about Chicago? In 1922 the Chicago Tribune held a contest. They offered $50,000 to the crowd to come up with a design for their new headquarters building – “the most beautiful and eye-catching building in the world.” They received 260 entries and the winning entry was built and stands today at 435 N. Michigan Avenue.

In 2000 Jake Nickell and Jacob DeHart started Threadless, the community-centered online t-shirt store, where designers submit their original work and the crowd votes to choose which t-shirt designs will be made into t-shirts which are then available to buy on trhe site.

In 2006 Andrew Mason founded The Point,  an online community that leverages the crowd by allowing anyone to start a group action, or raise money for a cause.

In 2007 Parker Newman launched Popdeck, a crowd-driven design community for skateboarders. Board designs are submitted by users and the winning designs are available for purchase.

In 2008 Cameesa was introduced online by Andy Cronk and Kamil Chmielewski, using a “crowdfunding” model. Users can invest in tee-shirt designs and share in the profits when the shirts are produced and sold. Artists are paid a fee for their designs and also share in the profits as the shirts are sold.

And, crowdSPRING opened our doors this past May, allowing buyers access to a community of over 11,000 designers from around the world.

What is it that all of these crowdsource-model businesses have in common? Chicago, Chicago, Chicago, and Chicago. What is up with that? Don’t ask me to explain it – just can’t. But for whatever reason, Chicago has become a hub of community-based goodness. And we’re happy to be here, shivering through the winter with our crowd-brethren.