Knight Blog

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

Knight Cities podcast: Reimagining Philadelphia’s civic commons

April 1, 2015, 5:44 p.m., Posted by Carol Coletta

Shawn McCaney, program director of creative communities at the William Penn Foundation, has been a leader in reimagining Philadelphia’s civic commons, those places that together encourage us to cross paths with our neighbors, encounter new ideas and make broader connections.

Shawn has been an aggressive advocate for better planning, design and land use practice, for model planning initiatives, and for capital investments that demonstrate quality design. Most recently, the William Penn Foundation and Knight Foundation joined in an $11 million investment in five civic assets – old and new – in Philadelphia neighborhoods.

Artist Michael Bahl combines science and imagination to startling effect

April 1, 2015, 2:03 p.m., Posted by Levi Weinhagen


Michael Bahl at work.

Not many artists are called unique and actually deserve it. But sculptor and Paleo-osteological interpreter Michael Bahl makes work that is truly unlike anything else in the art world. Bahl’s newest project, thanks in part to a Knight Arts Challenge grant, will be a bronze skeleton of a large imaginary mammal with a ribcage that functions as a bike rack. But it all started with a cow pelvis.

Ask Bahl how he got into this work and he’ll tell you, “When I was a kid I always wanted a dinosaur skeleton.” As an adult he found himself with access to a cattle ranch bone yard in Florida where a cow pelvis caught his eye. He ultimately collected 17 large boxes of bones. “We shipped them back to Minnesota, labeled as old wooden toys,” Bahl said. “Then I learned how to clean bones using trial and error methods. All of my work is essentially trial and error.” The cleaning and preparing of bones ended up being a surprisingly difficult and messy task, but after developing a system, Bahl was able to start making creatures of his own.

Poetry, everywhere, in Miami this month

April 1, 2015, 10 a.m., Posted by Fernando González


Photo courtesy of O, Miami. 

When the stated goal is to deliver a poem to the more than 2.6 million residents of Miami-Dade County, politely inviting people to readings and hoping for the best is not a promising option.

So O, Miami, the annual festival celebrating National Poetry Month that begins today, did the next reasonable thing: it took to skywriting, putting fake parking tickets with poems in car windshields, holding a “Poetry Is Dead” parade, having poems sneakily sown into thrift store clothing and more.

In fact, it also enlisted the help of the locals, enticing them with poetry writing contests, where submissions had to include the line “That's So Miami.”