Knight Blog

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

Libraries cultivate connections, community and more in the digital age

Sept. 15, 2014, 6 a.m., Posted by Anthony Marx

Knight News Challenge: Libraries offers applicants a chance to share in $2.5 million by focusing on the question, “How might we leverage libraries as a platform to build more knowledgeable communities?” Below, Anthony Marx, president and CEO of the New York Public Library, a previous winner of the News Challenge, writes about the evolving role of libraries. Photo: Kids using digital media aboard the NYPL's Digital Bookmobile, via Flickr.

Libraries are the community learning spaces and hubs of civil society. They continue to be where more Americans go more than anywhere else, to read, to think, to write and to create. The bottom third of society depend upon their libraries for books, computers, quiet and expertise, and libraries have never been used more. 

The digital age seems to have only increased the appetite for such civic learning space, and in the information age nothing could be more powerful than bringing together access to all the world’s ideas and images together with the full diversity of the populace’s talent. The library is that place. In New York, the public libraries receive 40 million physical visits per year, more than all the museums and professional sporting teams combined.

How did Miami's proposed 'Underline' reach its tipping point so quickly?

Sept. 15, 2014, 6 a.m., Posted by Meg Daly

Meg Daly is founder of Friends of The UnderlineKnight Foundation provided seed funding for the project to promote community engagement in Miami. Photo: Metrorail's MPath.

In 1999, New York’s High Line founders Joshua David and Robert Hammond didn’t know each other. But after bumping into each other at a community meeting discussing the above-ground rail line’s pending demolition, they decided to save it. 

Fifteen years later, the High Line founders not only saved the 1.5-mile rail line’s demise, they created something probably beyond their wildest dreams. This “park in the sky,” located on New York’s Lower West Side, has more than 4 million visitors a year and is the city’s second most visited cultural institution.  Recognized for its iconic design and magical landscape narrative, the rezoned district has also attracted over  $2 billion in adjacent real estate development.  In more ways than one, the High Line is the gold standard of linear parks.

A couple of summers ago I was walking under Miami’s MetroRail line along U.S. 1, and I was surprised by how underutilized the land and asphalt trail—the MPath—were. I had visited the High Line and seen the amount of green space that could be squeezed into a 60-foot corridor, so it dawned on me that here was abundant land waiting to be turned into a park. I had no idea that two years later I would be leading the initiative to create The Underline: a 10-mile linear park and urban trail, from the Miami River to Dadeland South under Miami’s MetroRail

I am an entrepreneur, which means I’m all about getting to the end line.  I have found that my business skills, such as market testing and validation, team building, engagement and collaboration, planning, implementation, brand building, and more, are essential in driving the Underline initiative forward.

Miami startups to present at national Tech Cocktail event

Sept. 12, 2014, 3:39 p.m., Posted by Jenna Buehler

CanUStart co-founder Kwame Ampem introduces his project at TechCocktail. Photos: Ezeqiuel Williams.

Tech Cocktail Miami introduced six promising startups to potential funders over drinks at The Stage Wednesday night in an effort to inspire intentional collisions between entrepreneurs and investors.

More than 200 people attended the group’s second pitch competition and  showcase and chose two winners to pitch at a national conference in Las Vegas next month.

Phones in one hand and drinks in the other, attendees voted for the best one-minute Tech Cocktail pitch. FiNe, a business rewards program, won the live popularity vote. An online poll that took place earlier in the week selected MyCircles, a social network, as a Tech Cocktail “Readers’ Choice” winner.

The two startups will compete during Tech Cocktail Celebrate in Las Vegas Oct. 6-7. Two additional Tech Cocktail Miami winners from this past June, Flat Out of Heels and Kloset Karma, will also participate.