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

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    Lincoln Street Art Park gets massive new sculpture and learning center

    May 25, 2016, 11 a.m., Posted by Rosie Sharp

    Above: The Green Living Science classroom at Lincoln Street Art Park. Photos by Rosie Sharp.

    Have you been feeling a “freaky” but palpable urge to explore the no-man’s-land between Detroit’s Woodbridge neighborhood and the area surrounding Henry Ford Hospital? It may be that you are answering the invisible call of the newly-minted, 75-foot Freak Beacon, a fresh addition to the Lincoln Street Art Park.

    Funding for the project came from a Knight Foundation placemaking grant to Green Living Science, in support of the Activi-Tree project at the Lincoln Street Art Park. Knight has supported both the Activi-Tree container (phase 1) and the Freak Beacon (phase 2) through grants in both 2014 and 2015. Fabrication of the tower and ball began on February 1 of this year, and all components were completed on April 18. The sculpture weighs over 9,000 lbs., including a 6-foot-square poured concrete base, giving it monumental power to draw “freaks” from all corners of the city, and perhaps even the nation.

    The Freak Beacon.

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  • Arts

    Two guys walk into a bar – and what that means for cultural sharing

    May 25, 2016, 8 a.m., Posted by Levi Weinhagen

    Levi Weinhagen's Mobile Comedy Suitcase from Knight Foundation on Vimeo.

    Images courtesy Levi Weinhagen, Mobile Comedy Suitcase project.

    Art making is the process of making something out of nothing.

    For an improviser and theater maker like myself, it’s rare that the something I make isn’t temporary and experiential. I love the idea that most of the art I’m a part of making only exists in the moment with my collaborators whether they be fellow artists, audience members or participants in other ways. The central challenge, though, for most of the kind of work I make is it always asks that people come to me.

    My latest art project, the Mobile Comedy Suitcase, created with support from a Knight Arts Challenge St. Paul grant, is a way for me to keep the temporal and experiential nature of my work while going to where the people are rather than asking them to find me. Here’s a quick break down of the project. The Mobile Comedy Suitcase is a four and a half-foot by two and a half-foot stage built on a bike trailer. When being pulled, the pieces look like a suitcase strapped to a bike trailer. When assembled, the suitcases pieces create steps and support for the stage. There’s a microphone in a stand, an amplifier, a chalkboard sign and a brick wall backdrop. It all amounts to a traveling comedy club.

    One of the primary goals I have with this project is to facilitate cultural sharing. I know that comedy is a way of connecting through shared ideas and experiences, but it’s also a tool for letting those outside of a culture in and explaining the core elements of a culture. That can sound and feel very academic, breaking down comedy as an anthropological system for culture sharing. Luckily, the first public usage of the Mobile Comedy Suitcase resulted in very tangible examples of this.

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    Join Code for Miami to Hack for Change

    May 24, 2016, noon, Posted by Rebekah Monson

    Above: Hack for Change 2015, at The LAB Miami. Photo courtesy Code for Miami.

    Video: Code for Miami on YouTube.

    Rebekah Monson is co-organizer of Code for Miami, which Knight Foundation supports to expand economic opportunity and promote civic engagement.

    Developers, designers, government staff, community organizers and civic-minded volunteers in Miami will join Code for Miami and thousands of volunteers throughout the United States on Saturday, June 4, for National Day of Civic Hacking, or Hack for Change, an annual event that asks volunteers to hack their communities.

    Miami’s fourth annual Hack for Change event, held at The Idea Center at Miami-Dade College will include national and local challenges, with projects about housing affordability, climate change, social services referrals, and open data from Miami-Dade County. Code for Miami is collecting and organizing local project pitches now via Github and the Code for Miami Slack group.The event is sponsored by Knight Foundation.

    People with all skill sets are invited to contribute at Hack for Change, said Code for Miami organizer Danielle Ungermann. “We need more than just coders to make these projects great,” she said. “People who can write well, those who know their communities well, designers and anyone who wants to make Miami-Dade County better are welcome.”

    Hack for Change participants provide valuable insight and prototypes for community organizations and government agencies. In previous years, projects have included visualizing data for the Florida Department of Financial Services and Miami-Dade County 311, building prototype notification apps for the Red Cross, and mapping and analyzing data from various federal agencies.

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