Weekly Dowser Roundup: The SEC Considers Crowdfunded Investing, Discourse on Impact Investment, and More Solyndra

Every week, Dowser provides a roundup of the latest news in social change and innovation.

Obama Jobs Plan Calls For Less Red-Tape In Crowdfunding

The future of crowdfunding is at stake in President Obama’s jobs plan, which he promoted throughout September, particularly in Silicon Valley. The bill suggest that a lifting of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ban against crowdfunding as an investment strategy (essentially microinvesting) could lead the way to job creation, GOOD’s Alex Goldmark reportedthis week.

The first clause of the President’s jobs act states that the phenomenon of online crowdfunding has allowed small-scale entrepreneurs to raise startup funds. But, it goes on, “imagine the possibilities if these small-dollar donors became investors with a stake in the venture.”  The White House’s Startup America initiative will be charged with exploring this possibility. Read more

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Solutions for New York City’s Sewer Problem

It's clogged up! Photo courtesy of Leif Percifeld.

Last week, Harlem residents held their noses as millions of gallons of untreated sewage water flowed straight into the Harlem and Hudson rivers because of a sewage plant fire. On the hottest day of the year, precious beaches and water areas were off limits, too toxic to swim in, as a repair team took shifts working in the heat to fix the plant.

But the crisis was more than just an isolated incident; it was symptomatic of a larger, structural problem in the way New York City – home to 8.5 million people – deals with its residents’ liquid waste.

Each year, 27 billion gallons of raw sewage are dumped into the New York City harbor, making sewage, or more specifically, the city’s inability to process waste water, the largest source of water pollution in the city. This dumping is caused by Combined Sewer Overflows that occur when the sewer system becomes overloaded by heavy rain on top of normal sewage flows. Overburdened city infrastructure is simply not capable of handing so much water. Read more

Sites I like: Simpl puts ideas on the (crowdsourced) market

Fresh on the crowdsourced funding scene is Simpl, a site that aims to help ideas grow by bringing them into contact with people who have access to and want to share resources. 

But what’s unique about Simpl, unlike most crowdfunding sites, is that its function is not limited to giving money. Instead, individuals and organization who like an idea on the site can offer support in a range of forms, including a conversation over coffee, office space, staff, or anything they feel will help. Read more

News: Housing voucher cut from New York budget; thousands of shelter and affordable-housing residents wonder what to do.

This is the article I reported on and wrote with support from the crowdfunding citizen journalism site, spot.us

A related version of this story was produced for Bed-Stuy Patch.

Thousands of people who were promised the New York Department of Homeless Services’ Advantage housing voucher are uncertain about where they will be living next month after Gov. Andrew Cuomo cut the voucher from the state budget on March 14.

The effects of the cut will reach thousands of people currently living in city shelters, as well as up to 15,000 individuals and families who use the voucher to pay for affordable housing units.

But the Advantage voucher was merely a Band-Aid covering a large wound that persists in New York City’s affordable-housing system, according to homeless advocacy organizations such as Coalition for the Homeless, whose staff has spoken out about the voucher’s role as a “revolving door” to homelessness. Read more

Sites I like: spot.us funds citizen journalism

One of the most exciting sites I’ve come across recently is spot.us, a crowdfunding platform for independent, citizen journalism. Users can submit story tips, and journalists pitch their story ideas for funding. The site hosts some excellent stories done by hardworking, independent investigative reporters. Reporters keep 90 percent of the revenue, and the rest goes to site editors. If you’re low on cash but want to participate, you can support a story of your choice at no cost through earning points by taking a survey with a spot.us sponsor. Read more