Knight Blog

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

Community storytelling platform makes creating documentary projects easy

July 12, 2012, 9:37 a.m., Posted by Jon Vidar


The Tiziano Project students, Elirë Xhemaili (l) and Aulona Hoxha (r), work on their iPads during a two-week iPad video workshop at the Dokufest International Film Festival in Kosovo. Photo: Grant Slater/The Tiziano Project.

The Tiziano Project is excited to announce the launch of its new community storytelling platform, StoriesFrom, funded by a 2011 Knight News Challenge grant.

The platform allows individuals and organizations to easily create immersive documentary projects that combine the work of both community members and professional journalists and filmmakers. The resulting showcases display completed projects in beautiful and engaging online packages.

StoriesFrom launched on Saturday at the Dokufest International Film Festival in Kosovo, where The Tiziano Project is concurrently teaching a two-week video storytelling workshop entirely using the new iPad. The resulting work will be screened on the last day of the festival and used to populate a new showcase from Kosovo within StoriesFrom.

Four insights into how tech is changing the way communities share, trade and borrow

July 11, 2012, 8:41 a.m., Posted by Mayur Patel


Last month I spoke with Rachel Botsman, founder of the Collaborative Fund and author of What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative ConsumptionBotsman’s work explains how our traditional relationships of mutual assistance – things like sharing, trading and renting – have been entirely reinvented and scaled with the help of new network technologies.

Last year, as part of a Knight Foundation study on social networks, we talked about how various initiatives are trying to catalyze mutual support in communities. They seek to connect residents with one another, encourage them to discover latent assets in their community and build trusted, reciprocal relationships. Through our Technology for Engagement initiative, Knight has supported a number of projects that help neighbors connect with each other to exchange information, goods and ideas, including CommonPlace. Recently, we supported FavorTree, an online platform that allows community members to share, lend or swap goods, services, and information, and as a result, the community increases its social capital. Favor Tree is led by Micki Krimmel, the founder and CEO of, a site that allows users to save money and resources by sharing stuff with their friends.

Four insights stood out from my conversation with Botsman that are relevant to efforts to build mutual support networks in communities.

1. Rethinking Proximity: Transactions of goods or services in a collaborative consumption setting tend to happen physically, even if the introduction is done remotely. This means that people have to be in the same space. We tend to think about proximity in terms of where people live, but there are a range of different places that end up being useful exchange points that fit into someone's everyday life, such as where they work, where they drop their kids off at school and where they go to church, etc. For example, FavorTree, , an online forum for sharing goods between community members, allows users to create a group for their small business, religious organization, or sports team in addition to their entire neighborhood.

Share with your neighbors? There's an app for that

July 10, 2012, 11:57 a.m., Posted by Benoit Wirz


Photo Credit: Flickr user Dean Terry 

Imagine it’s Saturday afternoon in the summer and you’ve just found a lawn chair, a good book and a spot on the front porch to get situated. But the one thing you don’t want to do once you sit down is get up again, so you’ll need a ready supply of cold drinks. For that you need a cooler, which, unfortunately, you don’t have.

As luck would have it, last week you noticed your neighbors wheeling a cooler into their place. You decide to knock on their door and ask if you can borrow it.  Ten minutes later, you’re back in your lawn chair, not only with your cooler stocked, but feeling a bit better about your neighborhood and your community.

To understand the promise of the new startup Favortree, a mobile sharing service funded by Knight that is now open for registration, think about all of the things that had to go right for you to borrow your neighbors’ cooler. Your neighbors had to have a cooler. They had to know that you needed one. You had to know that they had a cooler. They had to be home for you to borrow it and they had to think you were reputable enough to agree to lend it to you.

Favortree is looking to facilitate more of this type of sharing by making all of that information readily available and by enabling users to build reputations as responsible borrowers and lenders in a game-like format. In the process, it hopes to build stronger communities.