Knight Cities Challenge finalists announced

Michael H. Hodges
The Detroit News

With an eye toward making Detroit and 25 other cities around the country more livable, the Knight Foundation on Tuesday announced the finalists in their 2017 Knight Cities Challenge.

This is the third year of the Cities Challenge. So far, 69 projects nationwide have been funded. In each case, proposals will be evaluated by the Knight Foundation board of directors for how well they would boost what organizers see as the key ingredients of successful urban centers — talent, opportunity and engagement.

Twenty-one ideas from Detroiters made the cut, and will be in the running for a share of $5 million that will be split among the winners, to be announced this spring.

Some of the local finalists’ ideas focus on the physical city — creating “an inviting, urban beach” along Detroit’s Atwater Street, designing bus stops that have the feel “of an intimate city park,” and “Reaching Across the Border” — a proposal that envisions bringing residents of Grosse Pointe Park and Detroit together to reimagine common public spaces along their sometimes contentious boundary.

Other submissions deal with boosting citizen involvement in urban affairs. Bleeding Heart Design, for example, proposes sending Detroit teens to pioneering cities to see what ideas there have been successful.

“Happy 18th Birthday” imagines mailing a “local citizenship kit” to Detroiters when they become eligible to vote.

“Slow Roll — The Power of 25,000” looks at why thousands of Detroiters joined a cycling movement. Detroit Bike City LLC wants to share the learning with other cities so they can replicate the model.

And “Neighborhood Voice” envisions tapping the best-connected individuals in any neighborhood — bartenders, baristas and barbers — as a way of learning about community concerns and problems.

Detroit and Philadelphia are the two largest participants in the Cities Challenge. Among the 24 other towns are Akron, Ohio, and Tallahassee, Florida.


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Twitter: @mhodgesartguy