Knight Blog

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

St. Paul: addressing key factors of community attachment

April 19, 2012, 3:22 p.m., Posted by Polly M. Talen


Photo Credit: Flickr user Jeremiah Peterson 

I spotted a wonderful convergence of two things which Knight is passionate about, namely community foundations and its Soul of the Community research.  The current issue of the Giving Forum features community foundations and uses Knight’s Soul of the Community research to set up how important it is that community foundations focus on the quality of life in a particular geography. The research showed a significant, positive connection between residents’ emotional bond to a place and local economic growth.   

Giving Forum is the online and print publication of the Minnesota Council on Foundations that covers Minnesota philanthropy news by and for grantmakers, givers and nonprofits.  The article includes work of the Saint Paul Foundation and Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation, both of which have rallied around the importance of addressing the key drivers of community attachment identified by the Soul of the Community: social offerings, openness, aesthetics and education.

Why we need new models for arts journalism

April 19, 2012, 10:04 a.m., Posted by Eric Newton

Today, Knight Foundation and the NEA announced the winners of its Community Arts Journalism Challenge. Here, Knight's Eric Newton gives some insight into why both organizations decided to fund innovations in arts coverage and criticism.

Update: Two of the winning projects, CriticCar Detroit and the Charlotte Arts Journalism Alliance, were recently profiled in The Huffington Post and The Charlotte Observer, respectively.

When Knight Foundation first started working with the National Endowment of the Arts on the issue of arts journalism, we asked four questions: Is arts journalism in trouble? Does it matter? Can anything be done to help? How can we - the Knight Foundation, the nation’s leading private funder of journalism innovation, and the National Endowment for the Arts, the nation’s leading advocate for the arts – improve the situation. Let’s look at the questions and answers:

1.    Is arts journalism in trouble? 

Nationally, arts journalism is doing well. Locally, it is not. 

Nationally, the medium of film is an example of the positive post-internet trend. Even as film critics shrink in traditional media, the victims of the new economics of the digital age, they are blooming in cyberspace. Typical was famed film critic Roger Ebert reporting in his January 2011 Wall Street Journal article, “Film Criticism is Dying? Not Online.”: “The Web and HTML have been a godsend for film criticism. The best single film criticism site is arguably, featuring the Good Doctor Bordwell and his wife Kristin Thompson. Their names are known from their textbooks, studied in every film school in the world. But they are not users of the obscurantist gobbledygook employed by academics who, frankly, cannot really write. They communicate in prose as clear as running water.”

First aerial maps produced by citizens featured on Google Earth and Google Maps

April 18, 2012, 12:42 p.m., Posted by Shannon Dosemagen

The Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science, a 2011 Knight News Challenge winner, helps make technology work for communities. Here, its Director of Community Engagement, Shannon Dosemagen, blogs about an exciting new development.

Yesterday, we announced that 45 Public Laboratory maps had been integrated into Google Earth. Adding maps to Google Earth means that our community-created imagery, made with cameras attached to balloons and kites, will reach even more people as this is a hugely popular platform for people to view geographic data. The integration of Public Laboratory maps transforms the representations of the earth available on Google Maps/Earth because these maps are made by communities and they document sites of civic concern -- wetlands impacted by the Gulf Oil Spill, Superfund Sites in New York City, natural gas wells on personal property and social protests. Imagine a Google Earth where the most high resolution imagery of sites of civic and environmental concern is made by local communities whose lives and livelihood they influence.  This is the kind of outcome that helps to fulfill the hopes that brought me to this project -- organizing communities to make their own maps of the Gulf Oil Spill.

publiclabIn April 2010, I met Jeff Warren and Stewart Long, two of the other co-founders of Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science. The BP oil spill had just happened and in a mad dash effort, Jeff and Stewart had come to the Gulf Coast to help train residents and volunteers on using balloons and kites to map the oil spill, before, during and after it reached the Gulf Coast shoreline. Throughout the spill, they, and others, provided continuing remote support and the Gulf Coast team trained and organized the efforts of 100+ volunteers who collected over 100,000 images, resulting in over 50 maps of the region from during the time of the spill. With these images as a base, in spring 2011, Public Laboratory created the Public Laboratory Archive, modeled on the site. In summer 2011, Public Laboratory released the first Grassroots Mapping Forum of Wilkinson Bay, Louisiana. Since then, we’ve worked towards providing libraries in the Gulf Coast region with digital data sets of maps and images from the period of the oil spill and have been feeding images into Open Aerial Map.