Knight Blog

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

Global Detroit expands efforts to retain and attract immigrant talent

Sept. 16, 2014, 9 a.m., Posted by Steve Tobocman

Steve Tobocman is the director of Global Detroit, which Knight Foundation supports to accelerate talent and advance opportunity in Detroit, one of 26 Knight communities. Photo: A Detroit neighborhood soccer team reflects and benefits from the diversity of the community. Credit: Global Detroit

Southwest Detroit is frequently discussed as the one working-class neighborhood in Detroit that is revitalizing. It’s blessed by some of the most innovative and sophisticated nonprofit arts and community development corporations in the nation.  While the community (as defined by the new Detroit City Council districts) is 39 percent African-American, 39 percent Latino and 18 percent white, it accounts for about half of the 35,000 foreign-born residents in the city. The neighborhood’s emerging success and its demographic makeup are not a coincidence.

I first started working on neighborhood revitalization issues in Southwest Detroit—the neighborhood where my immigrant grandfather once lived—through the AmeriCorps national service program in 1995. Eight years later—after helping to start campaigns against illegal dumping and graffiti, leading local zoning battles as a lawyer, serving as a volunteer hockey coach and devoting my life to the neighborhood’s revitalization—I was elected to represent Southwest Detroit in the Michigan House, where I served for three terms—the maximum allowed.

Miami symposium helps preserve memories of the Great War

Sept. 15, 2014, 3:37 p.m., Posted by David Lawrence Jr.

WWI soldiers training in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Photo from the Boston Public Library on Flickr. 

David Lawrence Jr. is president of The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation, a former publisher of the Miami Herald and a past trustee of History Miami. Knight Foundation and History Miami are co-sponsoring the symposium “World War I: A Century Later” on Saturday, Sept. 20 at New World Center.

It was a war of machine guns and aeroplanes and tanks and trenches and chemical weapons and poison gases that gagged and suffocated. All these implements of war were either introduced in those years, or perfected in, under and over the killing fields of France and Belgium and Germany. It was a war that shaped the Middle East, leading to today’s terror. It led to fascism and communism – and Hitler and Lenin and Stalin (and evils that ensnarled a century).

Sixteen million people died in those four years, 1914-18, 116,000 of them Americans.

It was an accidental war. Shouldn’t have happened. But did. Its cause was way more complicated than the Archduke of the fading Austro-Hungarian Empire getting assassinated in Sarajevo.

Subsequently, we – all of us, vengeful winners in Europe and naive statesman in the United States – botched the peace. It all looked so promising at the time, but looking back now we see the almost inexorable pathway to the next world war (the one we remember). If only we had really remembered the great lessons of the great war….

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.