Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

TED Prize engages people in designing the City 2.0

June 27, 2012, 10:24 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

Update: Live from TEDGlobal, organizers announce the TedPrize will raise its grant awards for The City 2.0 by 10 fold - to $1 million.

A man who plans to turn thousands of plastic water bottles into an amusement park for children is one of the first recipients of the City 2.0 TED prize, which includes $10,000. 

Ruganzu Bruno Tusingwire, a 29 year-old eco-artist from Uganda, first started exploring his idea while studying at Kyambogo University. He'll use the prize money to grow his local TEDx community, help sustain a local eco-artist loan program supporting women to develop their business ideas and expand the amusement park from its existing single plane-shaped sculpture into a permanent park.

Early this year, TED unveiled the details of its annual prize in support of “one wish to change the world.” This year, the award went not to a single person, but instead to an idea: The City 2.o – the city of the future. 

With Knight Foundation support, the platform, www.thecity2.org, allows people everywhere to help create their own future city. Residents are able to propose – and lead – projects to upgrade their own cities on issues important to them – from transportation to public housing, recreational space and more. 

As part of the site, TED held an open call for new projects with plans to divide the $100,000 TED Prize into ten $10,000 awards for the best projects which represented "inspiring ideas worth spreading," (TED's mission). 

Four other winners have also been announced, including Jason Sweeney, whose web and smartphone based platform allows people to crowdsource and geo-locate quiet spaces in their community. Another winner wants to democratize the design movement by helping people build their own homes using locally-sourced materials and open sourced design. The remaining five winners will be announced monthly.

Paula Ellis, vice president/strategic initiatives at Knight, is currently participating in the 2012 TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh, where Thursday she'll be conducting a workshop about the City 2.0 and the foundation's approach to fostering engaged communities.  

Knight's National Program Director Damian Thorman recently blogged about foundation support for the launch of the City 2.0 website and how it fits into the foundation's strategy of funding innovative digital technologies that help communities across the country become more informed engaged.

The site, which officially re-launched today, celebrates the winning project ideas and people and organizations leading them. By sharing the stories, the hope is that the ideas that underpin them will leverage the efforts of others.

In addition to celebrating the prize winners, the site features other content around the evolving nature of cities, highlighting, for example, how play is transforming cities. Others featured themes include transportation, safety, health and more.

The new website is designed by Seso, the creative team behind TED-Ed. The site's editorial content is led by Courtney Martin and John Cary, both of whom have a strong history of thinking and writing about urban culture, design and public spaces.