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

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    Making downtown come alive with Buskerfest Miami

    Nov. 25, 2015, 10:55 a.m., Posted by Anne Tschida

    Above: Performance under the train tracks in downtown Miami from Funkamole; photo by Justin Trieger.

    Miami now has gleaming high-rises, a downtown with riverfront walkways and restaurants and cafes. But truly metropolitan cities are not defined solely by their edifices and skylines. There is a human element that makes-up a dynamic city, the people that you can see, touch and hear.

    The relatively young city of Miami has had no real communal center, no Central or Grant parks, no subway systems where all walks of life encounter each other on a daily basis. But lately there’s been an increasing desire to congregate, to get to know each other in our rapidly transforming metropolis. Buskerfest Miami is one manifestation of that desire.

    Founded in 2013 by Justin Trieger and Amy San Pedro (the former a musician, the latter a dancer), Buskerfest set out to “enhance Miami’s urban life by producing street performances that activate public parks, transit hubs and community plazas that often go unnoticed,” as they first described this project. In 2014, Buskerfest was awarded a Knight Arts Challenge grant to further this aim.

    It started off with a one-day festival of  28 groups performing around Miami’s Inner Loop Metromover stations. After the Knight grant, Buskerfest Miami expanded to include activities during DWNTWN Art Days, and a new series called Ear to the Ground, where performers pop up in various communities, with dates and times announced via social media.

    Buskerfest Miami is set this year for Dec. 11, and this time a whopping 45 groups will participate, in spots beyond just the transit stops in downtown.

    Not only is the fest supposed to excite and enliven the urban streets of Miami, according to Trieger and San Pedro, but it also has a mission to give local performers exposure, “to let different arts organizations get their message out,” said Trieger.

    Funky_Serve_Bots Crew’s street dance performance; photo by Julisa Fuste.

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    Detroit Symphony Orchestra premieres crowdsourced 'Symphony in D’

    Nov. 25, 2015, 7:50 a.m., Posted by Rosie Sharp

    Photo (L-R): ADULT., a teacher and students from Detroit Achievement Academy, Marsha Music, Tonya Maria Matthews, and students from YouthVille Detroit.

    What does Detroit sound like? This seemingly basic question yielded complicated answers, as composer and MIT Professor of Music and Media Tod Machover discovered once he began work on “Symphony in D”—a collaboration between himself, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and innumerable people in Detroit, all funded by Knight Foundation.

    Machover, having executed a similar symphonic portrait of Toronto from 2012 to 2013, provided the expertise. But it was Detroit that provided the inspiration: some 15,000 audio samples were recorded and submitted by everyday Detroiters using special apps designed to capture the sounds of the city.

    The world premiere of Tod Machover’s “Symphony in D.”

    Yet Machover wouldn’t settle for the mere transfer of Detroit stories to sound bites. “Every time I came to Detroit—I was here for a few days every month, for over a year—every single meeting, every single encounter was something we hadn’t expected, and was something that really touched us very deeply,” Machover said in a short question-and-answer session with DSO Music Director Leonard Slatkin preceding the premiere of the work on Nov. 20. “It was one thing to record sounds, and people’s voices and people’s music, and have them come out of these loudspeakers, but it’s not the same as having them onstage to tell some of their stories and play some of their music.”

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    Miami hackathon focuses on tools and services to help diversify tech industry

    Nov. 24, 2015, 2:37 p.m., Posted by Nadia Gathers

    Nadia Gathers is the development and communications assistant at CODE2040, which recently held a hackathon in Miami to help increase opportunity for people of color in the tech industry. Knight supported the hackathon. CODE2040 was also a winner of the Knight News Challenge on strengthening the Internet. Photos are courtesy HACK2040 Miami.

    At CODE2040, our events give us insight into the diverse populations we serve on a daily basis. Over the last four years, we’ve been fortunate enough to spark relationships with students, entrepreneurs and other interested people in communities around the United States. The most recent of these transformative events was last weekend’s HACK2040 in Miami.

    HACK2040 is a hackathon powered by the CODE2040 community, bringing black and Latino/a students from local colleges and coding boot camps together. Teams use 24 hours to come up with ways to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in the tech industry. As passionate changemakers, we revel in the chance to watch technologists of the present and future work together to help us change the face of tech in the next 25 years.

    Miami’s diverse and vibrant community served as the backdrop to what was an incredibly insightful weekend. While technological solutions to diversity are often created with grand scale in mind, we are influenced by the hyperlocal culture of every city we visit. Miami’s strong Latino/a presence excited us, and the effect that its communities of color have had on its development will inspire our vision as we expand. A number of community organizations, including CODeLLA, Iron Hack, Tech Miami, Refresh Miami, The Idea Center at Miami Dade College, Alpis, Get Wit It, Black Tech Week and Code Fever, are doing connective and informative work in the tech and entrepreneurship spaces. Representatives from each had the opportunity to share what they are doing in the community. This event served as an opportunity for participants from many organizations to come together, break bread and explore the ways they can support each other.

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