Article originally appeared in the Middle Georgia CEO.
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced that 37 innovative projects will share $5 million as winners of the Knight Cities Challenge. Each of the ideas centers on helping cities attract and keep talented people, expand economic opportunities and create a culture of civic engagement.
The challenge attracted more than 4,500 ideas to make the 26 communities where Knight invests more vibrant places to live and work. It asked innovators of all kinds to answer the question: What’s your best idea to make cities more successful?
The 37 winners proposed a host of ideas, from exploring Detroit’s untold history through monthly bike tours that blend storytelling with neighborhood discovery to using hip-hop to provide hands-on business training to members of low-income groups in Philadelphia, from developing a toolkit to create temporary pop-up social spaces at voting polls in Long Beach to creating a new cultural hub in West Palm Beach’s Northwest Historic District.
“At its core, the Knight Cities Challenge is about discovering and connecting civic innovators, creative interventionists who inspire positive change,” said Alberto Ibargüen, Knight Foundation president. “The winners reflect this goal. Their ideas have the potential to create stronger communities and spaces that spur learning, engagement and growth.”
Open to any individual, business, government or nonprofit, the Knight Cities Challenge has just two rules: (1) A submission may come from anywhere, but the project must take place in or benefit one or more of the 26 communities where Knight invests and (2) the idea should focus on one or more of three drivers of city success: Talent: Ideas that help cities attract and keep talented people; Opportunity: Ideas that create economic prospects by breaking down divides and making new connections; Engagement: Ideas that spur connection and civic involvement.
Winning projects are based in 19 of the 26 communities where Knight invests including: Akron, Ohio; Boulder, Colo.; Columbus, Ga.; Charlotte, N.C.; Detroit; Gary, Ind.; Ft. Wayne, Ind.; Grand Forks, N.D.; Lexington, Ky.; Macon, Ga.; Long Beach, Calif.; Miami; Milledgeville, Ga.; Palm Beach County, Fla.; Philadelphia; St. Paul, Minn.; San Jose, Calif; State College, Pa; and Tallahassee, Fla.
The list of winners is below and at: http://knightcities.org/winners2016/
Evolving MidTown: Lot by Lot by the Incremental Development Alliance | $174,400 | submitted by Jim Kumon
Recruiting and training a diverse group of individuals on skills to become small-scale developers; participants will use distressed or underused lots as beta projects and receive access to investors and other resources.
Urban Glen | $4,000 | by the city of Columbus submitted by Phillip Trocquet
Creating “urban glens”—inviting spaces with trees, lights and hammocks—on vacant and overgrown lots to encourage people to meet and connect, while cleaning up city-owned properties.
Pop-up Minimum Grid by NewTown Macon, The Macon-Bibb Urban Development Authority and Macon-Bibb Government Department of Parks and Beautification | $151,900 | submitted by Josh Rogers
Creating a pop-up minimum grid that would allow citizens to explore their city safely on foot or on bicycles; the project would expand a trail system from the river to downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods.
The Democracy Lab by the Twin Lakes Library System | $25,000 | submitted by Stephen Houser
Creating a shared space in downtown Milledgeville, located next to City Hall and near a makerspace and a library, that will foster civic engagement through public events, meetings that gather residents and leaders to problem-solve, and resources that better connect civic institutions.