Detroit has the most finalists in a $5-million, 26-city competition that aims to find new initiatives to bring residents together.
A total of 25 different ideas from a wide range of Detroit groups were selected among 126 finalists nationwide in the new Knight Cities Challenge, backed by Miami’s John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. More than 7,000 pitches were submitted. Winners will share $5 million.
Detroit finalists proposed a range of ideas: a barge in the Detroit River that would serve as a design center; master barbers partnering with landscapers to beautify vacant lots; and a plan to build public solar lighting, to to name a few. Winners will be announced in the spring.
“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, in a written statement.
The Detroit finalists and their ideas:
Beautify Our Block by ARISE Detroit! Create a jobs-focused, sustainable rapid response team to fight blight and clean up neighborhoods.
The Boggs School Community Dreamscape by the Boggs Educational Center: Repurpose the outdoor space of the Boggs school into a “dreamscape.”
Border Talks: Create a physical space to foster engagement between residents of Detroit and Grosse Pointe Park.
Brand Camp Pop-Up: School Branding Businesses in Detroit Neighborhoods by Brand Camp University: Assist start-ups and entrepreneurs in underserved neighborhoods through a training and mentoring program that helps them tell their stories and establish a digital presence.
Brick + Beam Detroit: Let’s Get Rehabbing! by Michigan Historic Preservation Network: Rehabilitate Detroit architecture by providing training and forums for people across skill levels.
Bus Riders Need to Be Engaged Too: Engage city’s bus riders by providing information agents on public transit.
The Buzz by Detroit Future City: Pair barbers with landscape contractors to transform overgrown vacant lots.
The Chain Link Kit: Create a how-to guide to transform the ubiquitous and unsightly fence into galleries, gardens and grids.
Detroit Civic Engagement Traveling Road Show by Community Development Advocates of Detroit : Engage residents through workshops and community dinners throughout Detroit.
Detroit Homecoming by Crain’s Detroit Business: A new digital community designed to keep Detroit expats in touch with the city.
Growing Communities With Strong Funding Roots by Funding Roots: Use crowdfunding to attract capital to create jobs, engage residents and boost new businesses.
Information Supergreenway by Detroit RiverFront Conservancy: Provide public WiFi along Detroit’s RiverWalk, Dequindre Cut and Eastern Market.
Middlecott Sketchbasttle Experiment: A public design competition, dubbed “a fight club for design,” that makes the design process a spectator sport.
Neighborhood Exchange Program by Detroit Experience Factory: Introduce residents to new communities through events that will transport them from one neighborhood to another.
NOW WHAT!!!! by Neighbors Building Brightmoor: Make Brightmoor’s neighborhood business district more vibrant through a competition that pairs local businesses with residents to transform vacant spaces.
Project Groundtruth by Detroit Future City: Transform vacant lots and blighted properties that surround multifamily developments into green, open spaces.
ProsperU$Det Innovation Stations in Your Neighborhood by Southwest Economic Solutions: Create neighborhood “opportunity kiosks” where entrepreneurs would pitch ideas to residents who would vote on which proposals should be approved.
Shark Tank for Small Developers/Builders by Kim Architecture + Design with Strong Towns: Train local developers and builders to manage small scale projects.
Social Water Financing: Testing and deliver community-based financing for household and neighborhood water services that promote recycling and reduce water use.
SWOT City Shine by TechTown Detroit: Create solar lighting throughout the city.
Uber Local Food System House by Detroit City Planning Commission: Repurpose vacant houses to provide year-round indoor sites for growing vegetables.
The Urban Consulate: Promote cross-city cultural exchange by setting up a network of “consulates” for American cities.
Think Tanker by MODCaR c/o the Bureau of Emergent Urbanity: Create a barge with design studios, exhibition space and maker facilities that will host international designers on the Detroit River.
Why Would Anyone Want to Live in Detroit by LIVE Detroit: Create a one-stop shop for information about neighborhoods and living in the city.
Windows Into Detroit Communities: Bring residents from diverse communities together in an artistic event where they participate and listen to discussions that happen across mock borderlines.