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

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    How MentorDay is paying it forward in Miami with Knight support

    Aug. 17, 2016, 8 a.m., Posted by Juan López Salaberry

    Photo by Al Delcy.

    MentorDay, a movement born in Miami, seeks to increase civic engagement by connecting entrepreneurs with experts in one-on-one mentoring sessions. Our idea is simple: Share your expertise with someone else, pay it forward and see others thrive. No matter your level of funding, your association or organization, we are open for everyone.

    We have established a high-impact mentorship system, using a “problem-driven” approach, entrepreneurs (aka “mentees”) apply with a very specific ask, and we pair them with a mentor who we know can solve that problem. We set them up once a month at a particular time and place, and let the magic happen. Mentor Day takes place the third Friday of every month—except for July and December.

    Our program is just 4 months old. We have had three meet-ups, but we have enabled 91 free sessions between mentees and mentors. We’re proud to say that in 92 percent of the cases, the relationship has resulted in a problem being solved. As PropeIU’s Patrick Corbett said, before MentorDay there was “nowhere [to go] when you're moving fast, to get answers to a specific challenge you’re going through.”

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    'The Truth Booth' gathers voices and perspectives from across metro Detroit

    Aug. 16, 2016, 11:07 a.m., Posted by Rosie Sharp

    “The Truth Booth” at Cranbrook Art Museum. Photos by Rosie Sharp.

    Since July 31, the Detroit metro area has been visited by “The Truth Booth,” an ongoing interactive project conceived by Cause Collective, and brought for a two-week intensive visit to Michigan by a $60,000 Knight Arts Challenge grant awarded to the Cranbrook Art Museum. Laura Mott, curator of contemporary art and design at Cranbrook, worked previously with artist Hank Willis Thomas and Cause Collective’s Ryan Alexiev to help get the project on its feet, nearly eight years ago.

    “We had done a show with Ryan at Mission 17, where I was working,” Mott said. “I met Hank [Willis Thomas] through that. And they were working together already in Cause Collective–‘The Truth Booth’ was an idea they had that was sort of on paper, and I wrote a grant to get funding to build it. And then I moved to Sweden! So I essentially sourced them some seed money to build the prototype.”

    Fast-forward eight years, and Mott is finally getting to see the vision she helped seed in action. “The Knight [Arts Challenge] is interesting,” she said. “It’s a challenge in terms of the money, but it’s also a challenge in terms of what’s an interesting public project for this context.” For Mott, the timing and the location of “The Truth Booth” could not be more exciting. “To me, ‘The Truth Booth’ in this year in the city of Detroit, when there’s so much conversation and very little opportunity for individuals to be heard, it seems kind of perfect. So it’s on its own correct karmic timeline, in terms of coming together as a project.”

    “The Truth Booth” at Cranbrook Art Museum.

    The project itself has required intensive organization and effort to reach out to a number of different host locations. Wherever it goes, the booth serves the same function–offering an open opportunity for any passerby to step into the recording chamber and video record a statement of up to two minutes, beginning with the prompt, “The truth is...” The project has been extremely high-profile, even touring internationally, and this visit to Michigan is the most lengthy stop on what has been a nationwide tour for the better part of 2016.

    Mott and Cause Collective anticipate recording at least 2,000 video testimonials in Michigan alone, which will form the basis for an exhibition at Cranbrook (opening Nov. 19 and running through March 17, 2017), called “The Truth Is I Hear You.” Previous Cause Collective films arrange “Brady Bunch”-style grids of individuals speaking, with certain sections brought to the forefront, offering a range of submissions and showcasing what they sound like taken en masse, as well as highlighting moments that may be very personal and individual. Ultimately, the power of the Cranbrook show will be determined by the nature of the myriad truths shared by Metro Detroiters and residents of Flint, Michigan, where the booth is also traveling.

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    Media Innovation

    Three ways to think differently about libraries

    Aug. 15, 2016, 7:31 a.m., Posted by Salma Abdelrahman

    A panel at the American Libraries Association summer 2016 conference in Orlando. Photo by Rosemary D'Amour.

    I wasn’t sure what to expect when I began my internship at Knight Foundation in June. I intern in the President’s Office, where I work across Knight’s program areas and contribute to projects that interest me most. On Day Three, after a few days of exploration, I expressed an interest in libraries. On Day Four, I was on a flight headed to the Knight News Challenge on Libraries announcement and grantee gathering in Orlando.

    When I arrived, I was surrounded by five cohorts of News Challenge winners and additional Knight grantees, who have innovative projects on elections, data, open internet and libraries. At the conference, I witnessed the power of collaboration: All of the News Challenge winners used their diverse knowledge and skills to build relationships and help develop each other’s ideas.  Quite frankly, I was overwhelmed. Over four days, I was introduced to hundreds of new people, phrases and ways of thinking—a lot for my first week. 

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