Knight Blog

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

Dinnovate moves San Jose, Calif., forward one meal at a time

March 31, 2015, 12:29 p.m., Posted by Daniel Harris

Guests gather at the School of Visual Philosophy over French cuisine and a discussion on reimagining San Jose’s public spaces.

In San Jose, we are bringing the city’s leaders together around the dinner table.

Every month, Knight Foundation and Moveable Feast invite 25 of the city’s cross-sector leaders to Dinnovate, a dinnertime salon focusedon the future of San Jose.

From Japanese small plates paired with wayfinding, to French comfort food with a side of reimagining public spaces, each event celebrates the diversity of the city’s cultures,people and perspectives.

The guest list changes monthly and may include a former mayor, a magazine editor, a public transportation advocate, a tech executive and a hip-hop artist. What unites the group is their shared love for, and commitment to, the well-being of San Jose. And, it’s not just a networking opportunity;an expert facilitator leads each group through a guided discussion and prototyping exercise. Topics are informed by Knight’s strategy to accelerate place through investments in talent, opportunity and engagement.

Fiber artists plan to dress up Detroit’s Avenue of Fashion

March 31, 2015, 12:16 p.m., Posted by Julie Edgar


The Knight Arts Challenge Detroit is now accepting applications for the best local ideas for the arts. Here, writer Julie Edgar catches up with past winner Detroit Fiberworks.

Like so many others who see Detroit as a wide-open frontier, Mandisa Smith and Najma Wilson are pushing against urban blight and indifference to achieve their entrepreneurial dreams.

Only they’re a bit older than the 20-somethings streaming in to the city to stake a claim. They’ve already retired from executive and teaching careers and have always lived in Detroit.

Opening Detroit Fiberworks in 2013 was a way to do what they love in a place they love, and to play a part in the city’s resurrection.

A bit about the two women: After high school, Smith and Wilson followed their own paths. Wilson taught art at Wayne State University and in Detroit Public Schools, while Smith got her MBA from the University of Michigan and took a high-paying job in the auto industry. Decades later, when Wilson retired and Smith got laid off, they started thinking about how they could practice their respective crafts.

Urban tech startups and the cities of the future

March 31, 2015, 9 a.m., Posted by Shaun Abrahamson

Courtesy Smart City Startups.

Shaun Abrahamson is CEO and co-founder of Urban.Us, an investment fund investing in startups that make cities better. He also produces Smart City Startups, an annual event that focuses on people and organizations transforming our cities in the next decade that will next take place April 23-24, 2015 in Miami. Knight Foundation supports the event.

People are moving to cities at unprecedented rates. The chart below forecasts the growth of our urban population and the targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change (targets set by the European Union). Since cities currently account for about 75 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, if we cannot change how we build and operate them we have little hope of achieving our climate goals. Cities must be smart if they are to serve the needs of more people while shrinking emissions. Smart City Startups is a showcase for technology and ideas that get us closer to that goal.