March 5th, 2013 Crowdfunding Cleaner Waterways with +POOL

On Tuesday, March 5, 2013, OLC attended Huge Design Events' Crowdfunding Cleaner Waterways with +POOL at Huge Brooklyn. The event featured Dong-Ping Wong of FAMILY and Archie Lee Coates IV, where they explained the concept of +POOL and the journey of their idea from paper to reality.

"It would be amazing to swim in a clean river," Dong-Ping Wong said. "We see water as dividers here in New York City, not as rivers. There's a possibility to reclaim parts of the city—take a look at the Highline," he said. Dong also stated that there is no need for a client to have a good idea.

"+POOL follows big New York City swimming pools," he said. "It's possible to carve out a piece of public space. The basic concept of +POOL is that it's like a giant Brita filter. Each layer takes out smaller and smaller organisms and contaminants." Wong and his team figures out what worked by testing a sample product. "Fecal coliform was filtered and the amount got close to the government's regulated levels. +POOL is finding a simple way to swim," Wong said.
At this point, Archie Lee Coates took the stage and presented how +POOL came to be. "We emailed a lot of people," Coates said. "We eventually got the project picked up by a lot of people and it resonated within the New York City sphere. ARUP wanted to help us to prove that this was possible and from there, we linked up with Columbia and a few other noteworthy organizations, which gave us an opportunity to talk with New York City public agencies," he said.
Coates and Wong started a Kickstarter campaign in 2011 to raise $25,000 for a test tank to see if their idea would be functional. They ended up raising over $40,000, with donations from New York government officials, and raised the $25,000 just under a month.
"We launched a timeline to try and be transparent with the process," Coates said. "Everybody can be part of building +POOL." Coates also said that they were launching a project called TileTown, which lets users own a piece of New York City online. "It's all about creating a world digitally, where users buy digital parcels of land and the money from that goes to fund +POOL," Coates said.
Coates revealed the timeline for the project: 2011 was when they first launched the test tank. This year, they hope to launch the test pool, which would test all of the filtration layers. It is 2016 that Wong and Coates hope is their official +POOL launch date.
"Crowdfunding is exciting because it's engaging people who will use the project from day one," Wong said. When asked about the filtration system, Wong replied, "Water gets filtered for the pool, but that water gets filtered again and released into the environment." Wong revealed that they were looking for non-chemical alternatives, and that their next option was to thin the pollutants down enough to be comparable to the cleanest beach in the world.