Knight Blog

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

New tools aim to help transform San Jose, Calif., into a more livable city

March 27, 2015, 9 a.m., Posted by Stuart Cohen and Ann Cheng


Stuart Cohen is executive director of TransForm, California’s leading transportation advocate, and Ann Cheng is director of GreenTRIP, TransForm’s green building certification program for new residential, mixed-use development. San Jose is one of 26 Knight communities

Silicon Valley is the world’s leading center of innovation. Yet San Jose is trapped in the era of floppy disks and 8-track tapes when it comes to mobility and development. Traffic congestion is getting worse every day, but we are still building homes and apartments in San Jose like it is 1978, expecting every household to own two or more cars. 

When we design new homes around cars – with massive garages and seas of parking lots – it drives up the price of building homes, often by $100,000 or more. The costs are even higher when you consider the loss of valuable space that could have been used for community gardens, gathering places, playgrounds – or even more housing.

‘Knight Cities’ podcast: Building a new kind of economy

March 26, 2015, 2 p.m., Posted by Carol Coletta

Is it time for a new kind of local economy in our cities, one that’s based on people sharing their knowledge? Tessy Britton believes it is.

Tessy and her colleagues at Civic Systems Lab are building a city framework where people can teach skills to those around them and learn new ones. It’s part sharing economy, part neighborliness. I asked Tessy about the Civic Systems Lab and what she calls the “new civic economy” she is helping to build.

When a house is an opera: Creating spaces for art in Detroit

March 26, 2015, 1:22 p.m., Posted by Mary M. Chapman

The Knight Arts Challenge Detroit is now accepting applications for the best local ideas for the arts. Here, writer Mary Chapman catches up with past winner Mitch McEwen.

Many areas of Detroit, including downtown and Midtown, are flourishing. New eateries and other businesses are opening at a pace unseen in decades. Excitement is building. But, there is much work remaining, including what to do with tens of thousands of vacant houses. Architect V. Mitch McEwen is taking one of those off the city’s hands, and transforming into a place for and of art.

McEwen will use a $10,000 Knight Arts Challenge award to fund the transformation of a derelict dwelling in southwest Detroit into a neighborhood opera house, and possibly down the road, an artist residency studio. It's an exploration of performance, community and form, she said.