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Andrea Batista Schlesinger, a partner at the real estate and economic development consulting firm HR&A Advisors, dscusses her experience in developing strategies to make cities equitable and inclusive, emphasizing aspects such as equal access to public spaces and community-engaged design.By Talking About Cities podcast by Carol Coletta of The Kresge Foundation
 
Georgia State University’s successful decade-long effort to use big data to improve student success – especially among students of color and first-generation students ­– is the focus of the latest episode of the Talking About Cities podcast series hosted by Kresge Senior Fellow Carol Coletta. Dr. Tim Renick, senior vice president for student succes…
 
Richard Reyes-Gavilan, executive director of District of Columbia Public Library, discusses libraries' evolution from mainly repositories of information to “engines of human capital,” how library patrons increasingly are becoming "creators" rather than simply "consumers," and how the D.C. system is building new libraries for a booming population an…
 
Shannon Mattern, an associate professor at the New School in New York City, discusses the current media environment and its effect on public trust, the "smart city" movement and the importance of libraries and librarians to smart cities and people's lives.By Talking About Cities podcast by Carol Coletta of The Kresge Foundation
 
Adele Yellin, director of Los Angeles' 100-year-old Grand Central Market, talks about one of the city's few true civic spaces and how it draws together people and provides them with a wide range of food and experiences.By Talking About Cities podcast by Carol Coletta of The Kresge Foundation
 
Suzie Graham, president of the Downtown Akron Partnership, Nick Moskos, chief of planning for Summit Metro Parks, and Dan Rice, president and CEO of the Ohio and Erie Canalway Coalition discuss Akron's work to take full advantage of the historic canalway and the importance of listening to local residents, building trust and the challenges of workin…
 
Detroit Planning Director Maurice Cox, Liv-6 Alliance Co-director Michael Forsyth and landscape architect Alexa Bush discuss efforts to redevelop neighborhoods in northwest Detroit with an emphasis on inclusive growth and investing in civic infrastructure to direct redevelopment. Detroit is one of five cities participating in the Reimagining the Ci…
 
Theaster Gates, a social practice installation artist, and David Reifman, head of Chicago's Department of Planning and Development, discuss the city's approach to Reimagining the Civic Commons, a three-year five-city effort to reinvest in civic assets to create inclusive, attractive communities.By Talking About Cities podcast by Carol Coletta of The Kresge Foundation
 
Kathryn Ott Lovell, Philadelphia’s commissioner of parks and recreation, and Jennifer Mahar, senior director of civic initiatives for the Fairmont Park Conservancy, discuss the aspirations and challenges of using public-private partnerships to revitalize public places as assets that can help form the foundation of a vibrant, equitable civic life. P…
 
City Observatory is a daily source of data analysis and policy recommendations on how to make cities successful. The site helps readers separate fact from fiction when it comes to cities. This week, we talked with City Observatory founder and economist Joe Cortright.By Carol Coletta
 
Detroit was once the innovation center of America. Ingenuity propelled a booming auto industry, Motown synthesized and popularized a new form of music, and social change poured out on race and workers’ rights. In his new book, “Once in a Great City,” David Maraniss has captured this story of Detroit of the early ’60s. Born in Detroit, David is an a…
 
Design powerfully influences our behavior. About that we are certain. But as a foundation that is built on the belief that informed and engaged communities are essential to strong democracies, Knight wants to understand how design – and specifically, the design of our communities – can influence civic engagement. For answers, Knight Foundation turn…
 
While between projects in late 2007 and early 2008, Marcus Westbury, a maker, festival director and writer, was exploring his hometown of Newcastle, Australia, and found dozens of buildings and once-vibrant streets that 'had fallen into disrepair and despair.' Today, however, Lonely Planet describes Newcastle as a city whose 'time has finally come.…
 
Like so many cities where manufacturing once dominated the local economy, Detroit has a lot of vacant land. What to do with that land is the focus of some exciting new work by Erin Kelly. Erin is program manager of Innovative Landscapes, an initiative of Detroit Future City. Next week the group plans to release a beautiful, smart set of step-by-ste…
 
Make your way to the edge of downtown Detroit, and you will find a river. Until recently, it wouldn't have been a very inviting experience. But today, the Detroit riverfront has become one of America's best waterfront parks. Mark Wallace is president and CEO of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, the organization responsible for turning the waterfr…
 
Attracting and retaining talent is at the top of the economic development agenda in many U.S. cities. And the organization that probably knows best how to do that is Campus Philly. Deborah Diamond is president of Campus Philly, and she joined us this week to talk about what the organization has learned.…
 
Until last summer, Philadelphia’s Spruce Street Harbor was moribund, lacking people and energy. That is, until David Fierabend and his colleagues at Groundswell Design transformed it with inexpensive, temporary design changes that have made it the place to go in the city. He discusses the project and how it was done with Knight Foundation Vice Pres…
 
Can an old barge sitting in Biscayne Bay help the city of Miami come face to face with the challenge of climate change? That’s the intent of the Miami Science Barge, a creation of CappSci and one of 32 winners of the Knight Cities Challenge in its first year. Alissa Farina is an innovation associate at CappSci, a foundation that applies “science an…
 
If you serve on a nonprofit board this week’s “Knight Cities” is especially for you. Raising money is part of the job for nonprofit board members, but there’s also a significant opportunity that isn’t taken advantage of nearly enough: influencing policy. BoardSource is the go-to resource for funders, partners and nonprofit leaders who want to magni…
 
Growing up in South Memphis, I spent countless hours at a tiny storefront branch library right around the corner from my home. I loved to read and the place was jammed with books. Perfect! But libraries today are as likely to be occupied by people studying for their GED, applying for jobs, figuring out small business startup procedures, and watchin…
 
Can behavioral science nudge us into better behavior? A growing number of government leaders think so. And they are being assisted by ideas42, a firm that uses behavioral science to design scalable solutions for social impact. Our guest this week on “Knight Cities” is Ted Robertson, managing director at the firm.…
 
It’s summer, and who doesn’t like to hang out at the pool? In most American cities, that used to mean heading down to the neighborhood pool where you found familiar faces and lots of strangers. In fact, prior to 1940, private swimming pools were almost exclusively the province of the extremely wealthy. In 1950, the U.S. had only 2,500 private, in-g…
 
When big development comes to a neighborhood, how can the neighbors benefit? It’s a thorny question that communities are trying to address with all sorts of new legal, financial and taxing mechanisms. One such mechanism is a Community Benefits Agreement. Ralph Rosado is an expert on the subject, particularly when agreements are used for affordable …
 
Roberta Brandes Gratz is the author of a new book on post-Katrina New Orleans on the 10th anniversary of the hurricane. It’s titled “We’re Still Here Ya Bastards: How the People of New Orleans Rebuilt Their City,” and Richard Florida calls it an “absolute must read.” Roberta also wrote “The Battle for Gotham: New York in the Shadow of Robert Moses …
 
As American cities fill with new and smaller households, school populations are shrinking. And that means a lot of closed schools in communities with no idea how to repurpose them. Enter Lindsey Scannapieco, principal with Scout, Ltd. and now the enthusiastic developer of the Edward Bok Technical School in South Philadelphia. It is a mammoth undert…
 
Is it possible to forecast the future? Institute for the Future has been doing that for almost 50 years. Kathi Vian leads Institute for the Futures’ Ten-Year Forecast, which was just released for the institute’s clients. It explores seven economies working at once to produce a future with a lot of surprises.…
 
Even though young college-educated adults are moving to city centers in far greater numbers than any time in 40 years, it is also true that poverty is growing in most American cities. While at least one strategy for tackling poverty – increasing the minimum wage – is gaining strength, the policy response to the problem has been pretty anemic. Enter…
 
A new kind of journalism is being born in Philadelphia. It’s manifested in The Philadelphia Citizen, and its purpose is nothing less than to spark a new movement of citizens who refuse to outsource leadership to a political class. The Citizen hopes to convince Philadelphians that citizenship is something they must actively and urgently claim. Jerem…
 
Joy. Play. Whimsy. Those are words not often used to describe city planning and the associated public engagement it usually requires. But with its Market Street Prototyping Festival, San Francisco inverted the traditional planning model and turned its main street into a canvas for testing ideas submitted by citizens. The result, on display for thre…
 
Are “creative” and “bureaucracy” mutually exclusive terms? Erma Ranieri is working hard to prove otherwise. As commissioner for public sector employment in South Australia, she is leading Change@SouthAustralia to speed change in government. For her efforts to make government bureaucracy creative and responsive to citizens she was named 2014 Telstra…
 
With city finances squeezed, the call for public-private partnerships is increasing. But even in the best of circumstances, they can be tricky to manage. Kathryn Ott Lovell is responsible for one of the nation’s largest non-commercial public-private partnerships. She is executive director of the Fairmount Park Conservancy, an independent nonprofit …
 
Shawn McCaney, program director of creative communities at the William Penn Foundation, has been a leader in reimagining Philadelphia’s civic commons, those places that together encourage us to cross paths with our neighbors, encounter new ideas and make broader connections. Shawn has been an aggressive advocate for better planning, design and land…
 
Is it time for a new kind of local economy in our cities, one that's based on people sharing their knowledge? Tessy Britton believes it is. Tessy and her colleagues at Civic Systems Lab are building a city framework where people can teach skills to those around them and learn new ones. It's part sharing economy, part neighborliness. I asked Tessy a…
 
Are neighbors vanishing in America? Marc Dunkelman thinks so. Marc is a fellow in public policy with the Taubman Center for Public Policy and American Institutions at Brown University and author of “The Vanishing Neighbor: The Transformation of American Community.”By Carol Coletta
 
An estimated one third of adults can be called soloists, people who work in non-traditional relationships with their employers. And the rate is growing rapidly, 15 to 17 percent every year. A soloist is, as George Gendron puts it, an extreme version of an entrepreneur and requires much of the same support and same capacities. George should know. He…
 
An estimated one third of adults can be called soloists, people who work in non-traditional relationships with their employers. And the rate is growing rapidly, 15 to 17 percent every year. A soloist is, as George Gendron puts it, an extreme version of an entrepreneur and requires much of the same support and same capacities. George should know. He…
 
Paul Grogan is one of the nations great civic innovators. He has had a 360-degree view of what makes cities tick—from his early service as aide to two Boston mayors, to the creation of the nation’s first national intermediary for community development, to the founding of CEOs for Cities, then to Harvard and now as president and CEO of the Boston Fo…
 
Each week, it seems someone publishes yet another list of essentials for city success. In fact, at Knight, we have our own list of these essentials: talent, opportunity and engagement. But Charles Leadbeater, a leading authority on innovation and creativity, believes empathy should be right at the top of these lists. Email me via: Coletta (at) knig…
 
Do you ever look at an abandoned building in your city and think, why doesn’t someone fix that up? Do you ever imagine that you might be the one to bring it back to life? Avra Jain is a Miami-based real estate investor and developer. Her latest project is the redevelopment of the famous Vagabond Motel in the up-and-coming MiMo Biscayne Boulevard Hi…
 
Making art general in cities across America is the charge of Dennis Scholl, vice president for arts at Knight Foundation. Dennis and his colleagues are the brains behind the Knight Arts Challenge (which is currently open for ideas in South Florida), the enormously popular Random Acts of Culture, and Inside|Out, the project that takes replicas of fa…
 
How do you create a sense of community in a brand new development? Its a question Sandra Kulli, a real estate marketing strategist, has been wrestling with for years. She is president of Kulli Marketing, and we had a chance to catch up recently in Todos Santos, Mexico, the site of one of her newest projects, Tres Santos. Its a project that could ha…
 
Can business muster the will, the know-how and the capital to take on the problems cities face? Shaun Abrahamson is betting on it. He is co-founder of Urban.us, a new public benefit corporation based in Miami - and a Knight Foundation grantee - that supports companies working to solve the most urgent urban challenges. Email me via: Coletta (at) kni…
 
What’s your Walk Score? Thats a question that has become increasingly popular among urbanists since the founding of Walk Score seven years ago. Now real estate agents prominently display the number on their listings, knowing the value it adds to properties. Matt Lerner is a co-founder of Walk Score and its original chief technology officer, and is …
 
He’s been called the shadow mayor of Center City Philadelphia, and there is no one in America today who knows more about how to cultivate a downtown than Paul R. Levy. Paul is president and CEO of Center City District, the organization supported by property owners that makes the district appeal to businesses and residents alike by keeping it clean,…
 
Before planning fatigue sets in, why not just build a better block? That’s the approach of Jason Roberts who leads Team Better Block. Jason is a charismatic man who works with communities – first his own in Oak Cliff, Texas, and now with communities around the world – to turn vacant properties into lively, thriving blocks that showcase what’s possi…
 
Scott Stowell runs Open, a design studio in New York. He is in the final days of a Kickstarter campaign for his new book, “Design for People,” which is filled with the stories behind the stories of the firm’s biggest design projects. In this week’s “Knight Cities,” Scott and I talk about his book and how to organize the kind of Kickstarter campaign…
 
The Atlanta BeltLine is a massive development turning 22 miles of historic railroad corridors circling downtown into a network of parks, trails and transit to link 45 of the city’s neighborhoods. It is among the largest and most wide-ranging urban development and mobility projects in the United States. And it all began with a master’s thesis by a s…
 
Imagine a globally connected set of urban studios inviting citizens to work on their best ideas for regenerating disinvested neighborhoods. That’s the ambitious vision of South African Alice Cabaret, founder and director of GRIND, the Global Regeneration Initiative for Neighbourhood Development. GRIND is headed to Detroit and other U.S. and Europea…
 
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