Last fall, the Knight Foundation announced a new program, the Knight Cities Challenge, which sought ideas not grant proposals that would both improve their own city and provide a blue print for improvements in other cities. Over 7,000 ideas later, less than 2% of the ideas submitted have moved on to the next round.
Two of those ideas are from Long Beach.
When Knight launched the Knight Cities Challenge, the goal was to create better economic opportunities, encourage retention of talent and increase the number of citizens involved in the civic life of their cities. Despite the focus on improving the economies, the two Long Beach finalists are focused on creating a more interesting public space and a “skills exchange” for people to offer talents or ask for help.
The finalists are:
Give and You Shall Receive, submitted by Rachel Ng, would create a neighborhood-based skills exchange where residents can offer their talent or post their needs.
As a reader for the grants for the Knight Cities Challenge (note: I did not read for any grant proposals for Long Beach), I saw a lot of people asking for funds to create a space to house some sort of program. What I did not see is someone looking to create a neighborhood space that anyone could use to exchange labor.
Living Walls by Nostrum Inc. (Submitted by Susan Collida) would create new community spaces by mobilizing residents to collaborate and create community assets around the walls, such as vertical gardens, rock climbing, film screens or visual art.
At Streetsblog, we talk a lot about streets as a public space and even alleys as a public space. But, outside of coverage of the myriad of murals around the Southland, we haven’t thought of walls as a public space. Nostrum Inc. is a Long Beach based advertising agency known for thinking and working outside the box.
“The challenge has introduced us to a host of new ideas and people who want to take hold of the future of their cities,” said Carol Coletta, Knight Foundation vice president for community and national initiatives. “Through these new connections we hope to grow a network of civic innovators to take on community challenges and build solutions together.”
From here, representatives from the Knight Foundation will be in touch with both finalists to help them flesh out their ideas into a more traditional grant application. Over 100 finalists from all over the country are being evaluated, and Knight has pledged at least $5 million to the top projects. Winners should be announced this this Spring.
For more information, visit Knight Cities.org
(Note: Yes, LongBeachize submitted a proposal. It was awesome. While we’re sad it didn’t make it to this round, we are excited to see where these proposals go.)