Blog

The DFC Implementation Office is Hiring

The Detroit Future City (DFC) Implementation Office is seeking an office manager who is detail oriented, with very good organizational and interpersonal skills to oversee the day to day management of the office, provides administrative support to staff, and serves as the first point of contact for all external constituents.

Click here for more information about this office manager position.

Blog

DFC Leads Discuss on Adapting Urban Vacant Land to Mitigate Hazards

The Detroit Future City (DFC) Implementation Office, aligned with the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) and the American Planning Association (APA), will lead the fifth Planning Information Exchange (PIE) webinar on February 26 at 12 p.m. PIE is a free eight-part quarterly webinar series focusing on tools, best practices, and strategies on the role of hazard mitigation planning and its connections with other community planning and hazard risk reduction initiatives.

Join DFC Implementation Office’s Dara O’Bryne, Deputy Director for Land Use and Policy, and Erin Kelly, Manager of Innovative Landscapes, along with Jenny Guillaume, an environmental planner and Growing Green Initiative Coordinator in Baltimore, Maryland, to learn what makes for successful strategies in adapting green infrastructure and hazard mitigation in areas experiencing blight and high vacancy rates.

Click here to read more about the Planning Informative Exchange (PIE) Webinar.

In the Media

20 Detroit projects selected as finalists for Knight Cities Challenge

With projects aimed at stimulating community dialogue on race identity, installing artist-designed lighting, connecting Detroit’s Latino and Latina entrepreneurs with the larger business ecosystem and other pursuits, Detroit innovators are among the 158 finalists of the second annual Knights Cities Challenge.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will announce the winners, set to receive a share of a $5 million grant, this spring. Finalists will submit a full application by the end of the month.

“The finalists reflect what the Knight Cities Challenge is about: uncovering new civic innovators and motivating people to realize ideas — big and small — that can contribute to the success of their cities,” Carol Coletta, Knight Foundation vice president for community and national initiatives, said in a news release.

This is the second of the three Knight Cities Challenges, which kicked off fall 2014. The three-year, $15 million project seeks to engage individuals and organizations on solving urban problems: how to attract and retain talent; expand economic opportunities and create civic involvement and connection.

Coletta wrote in a company blog that projects able to be executed within the 18-month grant period were preferred in the finalist selection process. She also noted an uptick of applications targeting increased, informed voting, integration of different socioeconomic classes and reframing their city’s reputations.

More than 4,500 applied last fall for the second annual Knights Cities Challenge. Applicants had to offer their response to the question: What’s your best idea to make cities most successful? Projects could involve the 26 communities where Knight invests, such as Detroit, Miami, Macon, Ga., and Aberdeen, S.D.

Detroit and Philadelphia have the biggest number of finalists with 20 each.

Following are the Detroit-focused projects that might see implementation with Knight funds, according to a release:

  • The Underground Order of Tactical Urbanists (submitted by Chad Rochkind): Creating a network of tactical urbanists who collectively select a single urban challenge each year on which to focus quick, low-cost, creative improvements.

  • Detroit Bureau of Emergent Urbanity by MODCaR (submitted by Jean Louis Farges): Repurposing a vacant area into a public space and open forum for design innovation and urban transformation; the project will connect designers with residents to help them make real their  ideas for bringing positive change to the city through the forum and by way of a digital platform.

  • Glow: Detroit by BANKAi Group (submitted by FaShon Vega): Installing artist-designed lighting solutions in Detroit neighborhoods to improve neighborhood life and encourage more people to live and work in the city.

  • Detroit’s Exciting Adventure into the Pink Zone by Detroit Department of Planning and Development (submitted by Maurice D. Cox): Creating new opportunities for jobs and businesses by developing a new tool to streamline city development regulations and engaging design talent and developers to help reshape commercial districts.

  • Southwest Detroit Is Poppin’ by Southwest Detroit Business Association (submitted by Ouida Jones): Engaging artists and entrepreneurs to create entertaining pop-up events in vacant spaces in southwest Detroit neighborhoods to attract new interest and people to the area.

  • Mobile Bamboo by Bamboo Detroit L3C (submitted by Amanda Lewan): Exposing more residents to the opportunities that are available to start or grow a business in Detroit by expanding Bamboo Detroit, a co-working community for entrepreneurs, into neighborhoods with mobile sites that offer learning and networking events.

  • Permit Corps by Michigan Municipal League Foundation (submitted by Samantha Harkins): Making it easier to get stuff done in Detroit by connecting students who can provide free expertise on navigating city regulations and codes to residents who need their services.

  • Ignite Design Detroit (submitted by Ron Watters): Engaging Detroit youth in designing solutions that improve the day-to-day life of Detroiters through a series of workshops that teach participants about industrial design and entrepreneurship.

  • Side X Sidelots by Detroit Future City (submitted by Victoria Olivier): Transforming vacant land in the city with the help of Detroit Future City’s “Field Guide to Working With Lots”; the project will recruit ambassadors to work with neighborhoods on using the step-by-step guide to transform vacant or underused lots.

Click here to read the full article in Crain’s Detroit.

Blog

DFC’s 2016 Knight Cities Challenge Finalists

The Detroit Future City Implementation Office is excited to have two of our community transforming ideas selected by the Knight Foundation as finalists in the Knight Cities Challenge. The Knight Cities Challenge seeks new ideas from innovators and will award grants –from a pool of $5 million– at the city, neighborhood and block level to those who will take hold of the future of their cities.

The Green Turn-Up Effect trains youth on environmental sustainability and landscape architecture to educate them on transforming vacant lots, creating profitable business models through this work, and  implementing what they learn; youth will partner with community members to develop their  ideas.

Side X Sidelots transforms vacant land in the city with the help of Detroit Future City’s “Field Guide to Working with Lots”; the project will recruit ambassadors to work with neighborhoods on using the step-by-step guide to transform vacant or underused lots.

We would like to thank the Knight Foundation for selecting Side X Sidelots and the Green Turn-Up Effect as finalists!

Click here for more information about the Knight Cities Challenge.

In the Media

Knight Announces Finalists for Cities Challenge

Create a kayak-sharing program to explore Miami’s waterways. Train kids to monitor environmental conditions in Detroit. Ignite entrepreneurship in Philadelphia through the power of hip-hop. Encourage St. Paul residents to engage in placemaking — on their own front lawns.

Those are just a few of the 158 community-transforming ideas that the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced today as finalists in its second annual Knight Cities Challenge.

The foundation says it received more than 4,500 submissions from designers, urban planners, nonprofits, individuals and municipalities in its 26 target communities (all places where the Knight family has run newspapers) with visions for how to help their cities succeed. The winners, to be announced in spring 2016, will realize their designs through a share of the $5 million prize.

Like last year’s finalists, the proposals are a glimpse into the challenges facing America’s cities today. Transforming vacant lots and underutilized spaces into community assets is a consistent theme. So is encouraging entrepreneurship among young people, low-income communities, and communities of color, especially in Detroit and Miami. In Detroit alone, half of all 20 finalist proposals involve job training or creating business incubation spaces.

Several proposals attempt to create bridges between diverse populations. In Akron, one project would bring together “residents from different sides of Summit Lake who don’t traditionally interact through a meal and celebration that encourages use of the lake as a shared resource.” Food — and beer — were among the most popular means proposed to create new connections.

Several applicants also hope to connect urban populations to the natural environment, by making better connections between parks, improving bike infrastructure and encouraging recreation on urban waterways. Making the civic process more transparent and accessible, through apps or pop-up events, was a consistent theme too.

“The finalists reflect what the Knight Cities Challenge is about: uncovering new civic innovators and motivating people to realize ideas — big and small — that can contribute to the success of their cities,” said Carol Coletta, Knight Foundation vice president for community and national initiatives, in a press release.

This is the second outing of the Knight challenge, a three-year, $15 million commitment overall. Some of last year’s winners, since implemented, include porch swings in public places to encourage conversation in Charlotte, North Carolina; pop-up pool beautification in Philadelphia; and a culinary incubator in Gary, Indiana.

From the press release, here are some of the innovative finalist ideas from cities around the U.S.

Akron, Ohio

One Lake One Community by #KenmoreUnited (submitted by Nolan James): Bringing together residents from different sides of Summit Lake who don’t traditionally interact through a meal and celebration that encourages use of the lake as a shared resource.

Cuyahoga Explore-a-Foot (submitted by Brian Davis): Encouraging visitors to explore remote regions of Cuyahoga Valley National Park by providing services and amenities, such as help with travel arrangements and baggage transport, that make it more accessible.

Charlotte, North Carolina

RAD (Random Acts of Dinner; submitted by Ephraim Gerard Gorham): Bringing people from diverse backgrounds and income levels to the dinner table at local restaurants to network, discuss ideas to improve the community and enjoy great food.

CrownTownHall by city of Charlotte (submitted by Jason Lawrence): Helping residents more easily connect with their local government and get involved with civic issues through pop-up events where they can meet elected officials, sign up for city services, and review area planning efforts.

Queen City Quiz Show by Charlotte Is Creative (submitted by Tim Miner): Creating a mobile quiz show that will team local musicians and artists with cultural groups to entertain, enlighten and challenge diverse communities with questions about the city from the trivial to the pertinent and controversial.

Detroit

The Underground Order of Tactical Urbanists (submitted by Chad Rochkind): Creating a network of tactical urbanists who collectively select a single urban challenge each year on which to focus quick, low-cost, creative improvements.

Soy Entrepreneur: Business Success Through Language Access by Global Detroit (submitted by Raquel Garcia Andersen): Connecting Detroit’s Spanish businesses with the city’s larger entrepreneurial ecosystem through a shared workspace that will provide Internet access, computers and digital media equipment, as well as learning and networking opportunities.

Permit Corps by Michigan Municipal League Foundation (submitted by Samantha Harkins): Making it easier to get stuff done in Detroit by connecting students who can provide free expertise on navigating city regulations and codes to residents who need their services.

Walk In, Don’t Knock by Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (submitted by Juanita Moore): Creating a new public plaza at the Wright Museum, the world’s largest African-American history museum, to provide a public space for residents to connect around cultural and community issues.

The Green Turn-Up Effect by Detroit Future City Implementation Office (submitted by Shari Williams): Training youth on environmental sustainability and landscape architecture to educate them on transforming vacant lots, creating profitable business models through this work, and implementing what they learn; youth will partner with community members to develop their ideas.

Click here to read the full article in Next City.

Click here to read the whole list of finalist.