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

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    Civic innovators step forward to improve Charlotte, N.C.

    Aug. 28, 2015, 7 a.m., Posted by Kristen Wile

    Photo: Charlotte market by Kirsten Wile.

    When 7th Street Public Market first opened in Charlotte, N.C., in 2012, people questioned the likelihood of its success. Today, it’s a popular destination for quality coffee, fresh cheeses and local goods, and the tables clustered in the middle of the market’s stalls and restaurants are frequently packed. So it was a fitting location for some of the city’s most inspired residents to come together and discuss how to make Charlotte better.

    Some of the attendees came to gathering of like-minded advocates for the city on Wednesday evening with questions they were hoping to gain new perspectives on. Others looked to expand their networks over pizza and beer. But each person had a common mission.

    “I feel like anybody who’s lived somewhere long enough will have ideas about, ‘Oh, man, they really need to do this, that, right there,’ ” said Varian Shrum, a planning and neighborhood consultant with Charlotte Center City Partners. “At a certain point, you realize, ‘Who is ‘they’?”

    So Shrum became “they.” She wrote a 100-word proposal and became one of 25 K880 Emerging City Champions, a group of civic innovators recently selected from eight Knight communities. With the title, she won Knight Foundation support through the champions program administered by 8 80 Cities, a nonprofit that believes if a city can be a welcoming home for everyone from ages 8 to 80 it will work for any resident.

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  • Arts

    World premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s ‘Cold Mountain’ sparks excitement at Santa Fe Opera Festival

    Aug. 27, 2015, 3:23 p.m., Posted by Sebastian Spreng

    Stravinsky and Georgia O’Keeffe were right in going crazy over Santa Fe. In fact, they were as sane as the visionary John Crosby, who, fascinated with the New Mexico desert, decided to start an opera company in an environment where silence rivals music.

    Crosby’s adventure in 1957 was highly successful, and today the Santa Fe Opera nears its 60th anniversary while enjoying worldwide prestige and generous support. Every July and August an international crowd converges on the spectacular outdoor theater nestled between mountain ranges for five operas, a season that includes rarities and premieres that delight critics and the public alike.

    The undimmed star of 2015 was “Cold Mountain,” the first opera by Grammy and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon, with a libretto by Gene Scheer, who happily summarized the essentials of the novel by Charles Frazier (it was made into a film by Anthony Minghella in 2003).

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    Young civic entrepreneurs showcase their app ideas at Temple University summer program

    Aug. 27, 2015, 2:09 p.m., Posted by Monica Peters


    Mission accomplished. Youth from the 2015 Urban Apps & Maps Studios Summer BITS program proudly showcased the product of their hard work at the program’s annual open house this month.

    Temple University staff and community members attended the Aug. 13 showcase to see the students’ app concepts and the user interfaces they created for them. The three-hour showcase was held at the university’s Alter Hall, home of the Fox School of Business. Knight Foundation supports the six-week, paid summer program for Philadelphia high school students to help prepare the next generation of urban civic entrepreneurs. The program also offers yearlong internships.

    This year, the summer program boasted 144 participants. Students worked in groups creating apps to address community issues. There were nine presentations during the showcase. In the fall, one member from each group will return to the university to continue the backend work on their respective apps. The university will also provide technical and marketing research support for participants seeking to make their app available to the public or to profit from it.

    “My group and I wanted to build an app that would combine something beneficial to the community and neurology. We figured that a mood-tracking app would be a great middle ground,” said 12th-grader Hikma Salhe, who worked on the SANTI social media app with her group. The app allows people to connect and share their thoughts and feelings.

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