private infra public good

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Some pieces of everyday infrastructure are ripe for receiving the “local treatment”: here, an ATM in Fort Greene, Brooklyn next to Habana (a cash-only restaurant), is decorated as a memorial to a hometown hero. In Amsterdam, for instance, it’s more often postboxes that are infused with the character of their surrounding neighborhood.

More broadly, which pieces of infrastructure can also be “privately owned”, what are the consequences, and who profits from said ownership? Here, Habana seemingly has a ready answer for skeptics who might accuse them of benefitting from a “personal” ATM in front of their restaurant, from which they’d receive a cut of the usage fees (as well as payment with the cash that comes out of it, since cash is easier to ‘fudge’ in one’s books to evade taxation). The adjacent sign describes Habanaworks.org, an interesting business model that claims to use the proceeds from the ATM to improve the surrounding community.

Does the “community-minded” nature of this cash-dispensing shrine actually attract local resident customers, seeing as they would theoretically benefit from the fee that is reinvested into their neighborhood? Are you skeptical, and what (if anything) would convince you that a fee would be “wisely” (whatever that many mean to you) reinvested in the community? How might such a model look/work in your own neighborhood?

… and who would be painted on your neighborhood’s ATM?

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