Monday, January 12, 2015

Block parties and painting the town red

A foundation's challenge to Charlotte has brought out clever ideas, from neighborhood mashups to artistic bike lanes to porch swings all over town.

The Knight Foundation received more than 7,000 submissions nationwide after it launched the first Knight Cities Challenge. The project was designed to generate ideas for making 26 communities where Knight invests "more vibrant places to live and work." Today the foundation named 126 finalists, including eight in Charlotte.

The finalists are now being asked to give the Knight Foundation more detail about their proposals in the next three weeks. The foundation will then select winners who will receive a share of $5 million. Many of the Charlotte proposals are promising. Kudos to all who care enough about our city to pursue these ideas.

Here are the eight Charlotte finalists:

·       21st Century Office Access in Charlotte and Beyond by Charlotte Center City Partners (Submitted by Allison Billings): Opening up underused office space in the city to startups and small-scale entrepreneurs through an online platform and creating a model for a business space cooperative that would give companies the flexibility to expand to untested markets or to grow or shrink their workforce according to demand. 
·       Art on the Asphalt (Submitted by Francene Greene): Redesigning bike lanes as blank canvases for local artists to create visuals that depict Charlotte life, history and diverse culture.
·       Connect.Occupy.Transform by LandDesign (Submitted by Kate Pearce): Connecting creative entrepreneurs with the owners of underused space in Charlotte’s urban core to revitalize the North End neighborhood and create a model for redevelopment that could be applied across the city and in other metropolitan areas. 
·       CrownTown Fest by Charlotte Area Transit System, City of Charlotte (Submitted by Jason Lawrence): Weaving together the diverse fabric of neighborhoods, business centers and hidden gems by creating a citywide festival that would use bike-share programs, transit and walking to encourage people to move between venues.
·       Neighborhood Mash-Up (Submitted by Michael Solender): Uniting residents by pairing different neighborhoods across the city to come together on two consecutive Saturdays to host simultaneous block parties that highlight businesses, houses of worship, parks, schools and other resources.
·       No Barriers Project  by City of Charlotte (Submitted by Sarah Hazel): Identifying the physical barriers that separate different neighborhoods and engaging diverse groups to work together on lessening the impact of those divisions with tools such as gardens and public art.
·       “Porch” Swings in Public Places by City of Charlotte (Submitted by Tom Warshauer): Installing porch swings at bus stops and in other public spaces to encourage community interaction and use of public spaces.
·       Take Ten Initiative by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services, City of Charlotte (Submitted by Alyssa Dodd): Bringing people together by challenging municipal workers to take 10 minutes every week to connect with a new city resident and ask for their feedback.

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