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

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    Swamp at Miami Book Fair melds diverse artistic disciplines, performances

    Nov. 24, 2015, 12:37 p.m., Posted by Amanda Thompson

    Above: Image by photojournalist Carl Juste of a migrant detained at Guantanomo Bay Naval Base displayed at The Swamp, from his book “Havana and Haiti: Two Cultures, One Community.” Photo by Michael Bolden.

    Last week marked my third month as a Miami resident and as the arts program officer for Knight Foundation. The past three months have been a whirlwind of meeting new people, learning to navigate Miami’s transit system as a resident of downtown and immersing myself in the arts and culture scene. The Knight employee manual does not define “informed and engaged,” “cultural authenticity” or “audience engagement”—words that we use to guide our grantmaking. Those words came alive for me at The Swamp at Miami Book Fair throughout last week.

    Knight Foundation was the premier sponsor of The Swamp because the program, a Knight Arts Challenge winner, met our goals of engaging local audiences with a diversity of artistic programming that reflects the Miami community. From dance to poetry readings and live music, there were opportunities from Sunday to Sunday to enjoy live performances right in the heart of downtown Miami. The Swamp and its companion space, The Porch, turned a boring parking lot into a vibrant space with an indoor stage, food trucks, picnic tables and games (Jenga, anyone?). It was a space designed to step out of the bustle of the fair and engage with your friends and family in a variety of activities. The indoor space had comfortable couches and chairs, art installations, a stage and dramatic lighting. The whole space invited attendees to relax, connect and enjoy the show.

    Book Fair co-founder Mitchell Kaplan. Photo by Michael Bolden.

    On Tuesday night, I joined 90 other people to be a part of the World’s Smallest Poetry Reading hosted by O, Miami. Eight authors read poetry selections to attendees one by one in a tent set up on the stage. I loved the poetry, but what I loved more was the sense of community. Conversation flowed back and forth between artists from Bookleggers, Sweat Records and O, Miami with attendees and each other. There was a palpable sense of support and pride for the cultural scene in Miami.

    On Friday night, after being exposed to a ridiculous amount of deep thoughts at the Knight-supported panel by National Book Award Finalists I headed over to The Swamp to drink a beer from Biscayne Brewery and enjoy some improv. Battlecat, the improv team from Miamah Comedy, had me laughing with references to all things literary.

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    ‘Get Outside Toolkit’ helps residents explore their cities

    Nov. 24, 2015, 12:15 p.m., Posted by Vignesh Ramachandran

    Photo above: Swede Hollow Park in St. Paul, Minn. by Teresa Boardman on Flickr.

    It was a recent winter in St. Paul, Minn., when Jennifer Strahan was trying to find a place to take her then-4-year-old daughter to play. Strahan said it took her a half-hour to navigate websites and dive into PDFs to find the right information about which specific parks and recreation centers had indoor spaces and were open.

    That led Strahan to ask: Why isn’t there an app that lists parks and recreation options near you at any time?

    Enter the “Get Outside Toolkit,” an app framework that lets cities easily create a platform to inform residents about local parks, events and recreational opportunities. It was created by GreenInfo Network, a nonprofit that develops geospatial technology to support public interest groups and agencies. (GreenInfo Network has proven experience with mapping projects for public use: In California, the organization created the most detailed database in the nation that includes data for protected land in the state.)

    The toolkit received $47,700 in 2013 from the Knight Prototype Fund during the Knight News Challenge on Open Gov. Since then it has developed into a robust, digital platform. This summer, the city of St. Paul, one of 26 Knight communities, adopted the toolkit, so residents on the go can now find parks, amenities and recreational events in a simple online interface.

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    Wyncode Academy taps latest Pitch Day winners

    Nov. 23, 2015, noon, Posted by Juha Mikkola

    Photos by David Salazar from Dark Matter Collective.

    The LAB Miami in the Wynwood Arts District buzzed with energy as the Miami Tech community came together for Wyncode’s Pitch Day VII on Thursday night.

    From humble beginnings, Wyncode Pitch Day has grown to a quarterly gathering of the who's who of Miami tech, with attendance growing from just under 100 people to well over 200 now. Pitch Day is where Wyncoders present  full stack Web applications, or apps, that they built from the ground up in their final two weeks of training.

    The night started with a networking hour, where Wyncode’s hiring partners met the current crop of Wyncoders before their pitches. Wyncode also hosted a special meet and greet for applicants interested in attending Wyncode and meeting face to face with Miami tech influencers.

    Pitch Day VII was extra special as it marked the graduation for the first two Future Leaders of Tech Scholarship award winners, Henry Arbolaez and Arielle Dickey-Louis. Thanks to support from Knight Foundation, the Future Leaders of Tech Scholarship provides two deserving students per cohort an opportunity to attend Wyncode at no cost. Knight Foundation Miami Program Director Matt Haggman, along with Henry and Arielle, announced the next two Future Leaders of Tech Scholarship award winners, Jermaine Lang and Aldrin Bustos.

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