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

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    Design thinking for better philanthropy

    April 27, 2016, 8 a.m., Posted by Molly de Aguiar

    Above: Terry Mazany of the Chicago Community Trust and Neha Singh Gohil of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation take part in a design thinking session for their projects.


    "Lessons Learned from the Local News Lab" on Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation web site, 2/11/2016

    For the past two years, Knight has brought together four place-based foundations for human-centered design training to help them consider how their work in news and information can better benefit the community. Here, Molly de Aguiar, of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, writes about how the experience impacted her work.

    I was standing in front of a giant sheet of paper on the wall, trying to decide if I should bluff. I had a little sticker in my hand and I was supposed to put it on the sheet of paper to indicate how much I knew about human-centered design. Was I brand new to the concept, an expert already, or somewhere in between? I was sure everyone else was putting their dots close to the “Wrote the Book!” end. I thought I was the only one who didn’t know much.

    From 'Deep Dive on Design Thinking' session at Knight Foundation's 2015 Media Learning Seminar.

    That was a cold weekend in the fall of 2014, and those of us in the room didn’t quite know what to expect of that weekend or what lay ahead. Knight had invited four foundations deeply invested in community information initiatives – the Incourage Foundation, the Chicago Community Trust, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation – to come together as a cohort and learn design thinking over the course of a year and a half. The idea was to use the process to advance our the information and engagement projects Knight had funded.  The training was a leap of faith for everyone, including Knight.

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    ‘Radicalization Process’ at The Hinterlands in Detroit synthesizes history, personal politics and artistry

    April 27, 2016, 6 a.m., Posted by Rosie Sharp

    It would be impossible to boil down the astonishing complexity of “The Radicalization Process”–a new work by experimental theater ensemble The Hinterlands, made possible with support from Knight and other organizations–down into a single thesis. But if one were to try, it might be a statement oft-repeated throughout the course of the show: “The only war that matters is the war against the imagination; all other wars are subsumed in it.”

    The statement is made and revisited by the three-person cast that forms the permanent core of Hinterlands: Liza Bielby, Richard Newman and Dave Sanders. Past productions have seen others take the lead–for example, Newman as ringmaster of a vaudeville-based walk through Detroit sub-culture, The Circuit (also funded by Knight)–but Bielby is the beating heart and commanding presence of this show, first greeting attendees in the basement of Play House, where she introduces us to a mysterious archive. We are informed that the archive was found when Hinterlands took control of the abandoned house, and through her obsession and subsequent organization of the water-damaged materials, Bielby sparked the impetus for the production about to take place.

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    Media Innovation

    How the city of Boston is making its data accessible to everyone

    April 26, 2016, 4:29 p.m., Posted by Howard C. Lim

    Above: Jascha Franklin-Hodge, the city of Boston's CIO, describes the importance of data and open data to drive innovation during Boston’s first Data Coordinator Summit. Credit: Howard C. Lim.

    Howard C. Lim is the project manager for the city of Boston’s Open Data to Open Knowledge project, a winner of the Knight News Challenge on Libraries

    Boston is a city with a distinguished history of firsts. 

    For example, the nation’s first public park, Boston Common, was designated way back in 1634.  The Mather School founded in Dorchester in 1639 is the first public elementary school in America. The Boston Public Library shares a notable history as well. It is the first library to lend books to the public and the first library to establish a branch system. To honor this rich tradition and kick-start the Open Data to Open Knowledge project, one of the first open data initiatives to collaborate closely with libraries, the Boston open data team hosted the city’s first Data Coordinator Summit at the Boston Public Library Commonwealth Salon on March 30, 2016.

    About 70 city employees gathered at the library to learn about Boston’s newest open data project to democratize access to city data. The audience was particularly special because the attendee list included the newly identified data coordinators from an overwhelming majority of the city’s 45 departments. The summit not only convened key city employees, but it also served as a great platform to share the vision and importance of data and open data within the city. 

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