Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

‘Knight Cities’ podcast: Building a new kind of economy

March 26, 2015, 2 p.m., Posted by Carol Coletta

Is it time for a new kind of local economy in our cities, one that’s based on people sharing their knowledge? Tessy Britton believes it is.

Tessy and her colleagues at Civic Systems Lab are building a city framework where people can teach skills to those around them and learn new ones. It’s part sharing economy, part neighborliness. I asked Tessy about the Civic Systems Lab and what she calls the “new civic economy” she is helping to build.

When a house is an opera: Creating spaces for art in Detroit

March 26, 2015, 1:22 p.m., Posted by Mary M. Chapman

The Knight Arts Challenge Detroit is now accepting applications for the best local ideas for the arts. Here, writer Mary Chapman catches up with past winner Mitch McEwen.

Many areas of Detroit, including downtown and Midtown, are flourishing. New eateries and other businesses are opening at a pace unseen in decades. Excitement is building. But, there is much work remaining, including what to do with tens of thousands of vacant houses. Architect V. Mitch McEwen is taking one of those off the city’s hands, and transforming into a place for and of art.

McEwen will use a $10,000 Knight Arts Challenge award to fund the transformation of a derelict dwelling in southwest Detroit into a neighborhood opera house, and possibly down the road, an artist residency studio. It's an exploration of performance, community and form, she said.

Powering innovation in Philadelphia

March 26, 2015, 11:05 a.m., Posted by Donna Frisby-Greenwood


Photo of Philadelphia by Flickr user Ahd Photography.

I participated recently in Philly Innovates, the city of Philadelphia’s innovation summit in partnership with Salesforce. Mayor Michael Nutter, Chief Customer Service Officer Rosetta Lue and Deputy Mayor Rich Negrin unveiled “The Philly Innovates Blueprint” to become a more connected city. Salesforce, best known for its customer relationship management product, has created an enhanced Philly 311 platform that allows for a multichannel user experience.   

As I talked to Michelle Lee, co-founder of Textizen, in the exhibit area, I saw a demo of the newly unveiled Open Data Philly platform. During lunch I looked around the room a bit more, and it became clear that Knight Foundation has been a catalyst for much of the city’s innovation in recent years.