January 17, 2017 - Crain's Detroit
Almost two dozen Detroit applicants are among 144 finalists in the third and final installment of the Knight Cities Challenge, a competition to fund ideas to stimulate communities.
Some 21 Detroit projects will be considered by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to receive a share of a $5 million grant. Submissions included solutions to improve civic engagement, develop public recreations, connect people of diverse backgrounds and affect economic growth. One finalist proposes to develop a vacant lot into a space for a playground, public work spaces and food vendors.
The Knight Foundation will announce winners this spring.
"The finalists use creativity and inventiveness to tackle community challenges and realize new opportunities, proposing ideas that are unique to their city, but also hold lessons and inspiration for civic innovators across the country," Knight Foundation Director for Community and National Initiatives George Abbott said in a news release.
The Knight Cities Challenge focuses on ideas that help cities to attract and retain talented people, foster opportunities for economic growth and racial unity and encourage civic involvement. The foundation launched the three-year challenge in 2014 to invest $15 million in 26 communities with which Knight has partnered.
A total of 69 winning applicants were selected in its first two years.
Following are the Detroit project finalists:
- Atwater Beach by Detroit RiverFront Conservancy (submitted by Jan Shimshock): Further activating the Detroit waterfront by creating an inviting, urban beach along the city's Atwater Street.
- Better Buildings, Better Blocks by Building Community Value (submitted by Chase Cantrell): Fostering talent in Detroit, and providing a pipeline for minorities into real estate jobs, by teaching the fundamentals of small-scale property development and providing initial project financing.
- Bus Stoplets by Southwest Detroit Business Association (submitted by Greg Mangan): Improving the commute for transit riders by creating inviting bus stops that have the feel of an intimate city park.
- Crossing Trumbull by Woodbridge Neighborhood Development Corp. (submitted by Angie Gaabo): Bringing together the residents of Woodbridge, often divided geographically and socio-economically, through adult walking and youth biking clubs.
- City Asset Map: Mapping Mobility in Motown by Detroit Experience Factory (submitted by Matt Chung): Fostering connection and civic involvement in Detroit by creating a map that highlights cultural, educational and mobility resources, such as libraries, health centers, museums, educational spaces, bike infrastructure and parks.
- Design Center in a Box: A Place for Informed Community Exchange by City of Detroit Department of Planning (submitted by Maurice Cox): Promoting civic engagement by creating "pop-up" city planning offices where residents can connect with city planning staff and others to exchange ideas and become informed about the design and planning work happening in their neighborhood and the city at large.
- Detroit Youth Council of Urban Explorers by Bleeding Heart Design (submitted by Rebecca Bucky Willis): Helping the next generation advocate for good city planning by sending Detroit teenagers to pioneering cities to learn best practices they can execute back home.
- Dip 'N' Dive Detroit by City of Detroit Planning and Development Department (submitted by Maurice Cox): Creating spaces where residents can meet, connect and share experiences by creating pop-up swimming events at a temporary "River Pool" at the Detroit River.
- The Discovery Place by Detroit Future City (submitted by Allandra Bulger): Activating open spaces in Detroit as meeting places and libraries run by and for residents who otherwise lack these amenities.
- Green Culture Shift by Detroit Future City (submitted by Alex Kellogg): Creating innovative, experiential tools that change how Detroiters think about planning and transforming green spaces in urban neighborhoods.
- Happy 18th Birthday! Local Citizenship Kit by CitizenDetroit (submitted by Sandra Stahl): Celebrating Detroiters becoming eligible to vote by sending them a local citizenship kit in the mail on their 18th birthday.
- Las Luces de la Noche by Invest Detroit (submitted by Michael Smith): Making Clark Park, a neighborhood recreation hub, a safer place for residents to come together through new public lighting and programming.
- Mack Lot: A New Kind of Gathering Place by MACC Development (submitted by Ezekiel Harris): Bringing people of different backgrounds together by transforming a vacant 8,000-square-foot lot into a meeting space that will include a performance stage, a playground, rain gardens, public work spaces and space for food vendors.
- Mine Your Own Business by Michigan Women's Foundation (submitted by Carolyn Cassin): Offering education, mentorship and capital for aspiring women entrepreneurs through business accelerators at neighborhood churches.
- Motor City Matchbox by Detroit Economic Growth Corp. Small Business/Motor City Match (submitted by Helen Broughton): Making it easier to launch pop-up business and art events in the city's vacant buildings — and demonstrate what could happen in disinvested areas — by creating a mobile how-to toolkit.
- Neighborhood Voice: Increase Civic Engagement by Equipping Community Connectors (submitted by Garlin Gilchrist II): Improving ways to obtain feedback from neighborhoods by supporting the best connected people — such as barbers, bartenders and baristas — to get and share feedback through technology, tools and training.
- Reaching Across the Border: Detroit and Grosse Pointe by Mash Detroit (submitted by Marlowe Stoudamire): Inspiring residents near the border of Detroit and Grosse Pointe to collaborate on reimagining their common public spaces by offering mini-grants to teams of residents from both areas.
- Shovel Share by Michigan Community Resources (submitted by Lydia Rae Levinson): Sparking neighborhood revitalization by providing community groups with the tools and resources they need to maintain and revamp their neighborhoods.
- Sign ON by Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp. (submitted by Martha Potere): Enlivening Grandmont Rosedale by pairing local artists with small business owners to create a "gallery of signage" that treats commercial signs as public art.
- Slow Roll – The Power of 25,000 by Detroit Bike City LLC (doing business as Slow Roll, submitted by Jeff Herron): Exploring why 25,000 Detroiters joined a cycling movement and sharing the learning with other cities so they can replicate the model.
- The Table (submitted by Orlando Bailey): Giving people a voice in what happens next in their neighborhoods by convening them regularly to share ideas that can move the city forward.