Hitchhiking is one of the oldest ideas of the sharing economy, yet most elderly individuals don't feel entirely comfortable standing on a street corner with their thumb in the air. Still, with so many senior citizens living in homes that are somewhat off the beaten track -- and not serviced by today's inadequate public transportation systems -- there are hardly any other affordable alternatives for traveling downtown.
Now, help is on the way with the "hitchhiking bench" for seniors. It's located in front of retirement homes, painted bright blue, and anyone who takes a seat here is instantly sending out the message that they would like to be given a lift by a friendly motorist. This idea was submitted for consideration for KulturSPIEGEL and SPIEGEL ONLINE's Orange Social Design Award -- and it's just one of over 200 entries that came from all across Germany, but also from the United States, India, Brazil and Hong Kong.
A jury has now selected 10 submissions for the shortlist, but it's not just up to the jury to decide which design should win.
After studying the photo gallery above, SPIEGEL ONLINE readers can vote here for their favorite to win the audience prize. After placing a check mark after the entry you would like to see win, please press the "Abstimmen/Ergebnis" (Vote/Results) button at the bottom in order to submit your choice and view the results. (We apologize for the German navigation, but we were unable to reprogram our voting function in time for the contest. We feel the benefit of being able to cast your vote will outweigh any linguistic inconvenience.)
Voting will continue until Oct. 19. The winner will be announced on SPIEGEL ONLINE and in KulturSPIEGEL, DER SPIEGEL's monthly cultural supplement, on Oct. 27.
Some readers may already be familiar with some of the entries on the shortlist, like the Prinzessinnengärten urban gardening project in Berlin and the public design consulting project in Hamburg. But there were also ideas from further afield, including a proposal from India for mobile quick-assembly huts, and a complex project from the US aimed at identifying vacant lots for community projects. Of course, some simple ideas also made the shortlist: a small basketball court painted on the sidewalk in front of a public trash can, making urban cleanliness a game -- or a game of chance, depending on the players' level of skill.