Knight Blog

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

A river runs through them

June 6, 2011, 9:34 a.m., Posted by Lisa Williams


The River Partnership is an association of community foundations located in cities and towns along the Mississippi River. With a watershed of over a million square miles, the river is the kind of natural resource that risks being everyone's treasure and no one's concern. The River Partnership, a second round winner of the Knight Community Information Challenge, will launch six projects that will solve a central problem: residents can't act until they care, and they can't care until they know. Each project will make use of the web and social media to get people engaged with the river that flows through their back yard.

Here are some thumbnails of a few of the projects that will be launched in the coming year:

Community Foundation of the Great River Bend will launch "Quad Cities Wild Places," which is modeled after Chicago Wilderness, which helps people in the Chicagoland area get outside into Chicago's hidden wilderness areas. Quad Cities Wild Places will develop a website with maps, educational material, and even a childrens' "Wild Places Passport," to encourage families to get outside.

The Community Foundation of Northwest Missisippi doesn't yet have a name for its project, but it does have big ambitions -- it calls the project "A Huffington Post for the Mississippi Delta. The surrounding region has no regional newspaper or television station, and the community foundation hopes to bring together research findings and the voices of residents.

The IQ Magazine Community Foundation Consortium backs IQ Magazine, which turns each issue into a deep dive on serious issues facing the residents of Minnesota, including...

Random Acts of Culture arrives in Saint Paul

June 3, 2011, 3:28 p.m., Posted by Eric Cade Schoenborn

Cross- posted from

By Brian Woods, The Schubert Club—a member of The Arts Partnership

On Thursday, May 26, 2011, downtown Saint Paul office workers and residents were surprised by Random Acts of Culture® in the city’s skyway system. The Arts Partnership enlisted the talents of two guitarists, winners of The Schubert Club’s Bruce P. Carlson Student Scholarship Competition.


A Random Act of Culture in the St Paul Skyway

Alternating between the two food courts and the skyway corridors of Town Square and Alliance Bank Center, the two musicians offered a diverse mix of solo and duo guitar works. Skyway walkers and food court noshers, several snapping photos and shooting video, paused to take in the unusual sights and sounds.

With music ranging from Bach to Albeniz to Ponce, and duo improvisations that mixed classical with pop music elements, the artists brought some unexpected life to a normal workday lunch hour!

Video is coming soon, in the meantime you can read more about the day courtesy of local media:

Youth Media in California's Central Valley gets rolling

June 2, 2011, 9:38 a.m., Posted by Lisa Williams

The California Endowment and the Knight Foundation are supporting a youth media initiative in California's Central Valley, and judging from the quality of the writing, the investment is paying off. Here's Jesus Vargas, a resident of Coachella, CA, writing about the Coachella Festival, a music festival which triples the population of this town, where 35% of the 18 and under residents live below the poverty level:

"Most people who frequent Coachella Fest or stay at the nearby resorts in the west side of the valley, know nothing about the real Coachella. I live in the actual city of Coachella, less than a 10-minute drive southeast from Indio, a small 40,000 person town that is economically depressed, mostly rural and agricultural and predominantly Hispanic. Further east of the city are the unincorporated communities of Thermal, Mecca, and North Shore, which are home to the migrant workers who toil in the area’s agricultural fields. Many live in poverty. The environmental conditions – contaminated drinking water, toxic landfills, dilapidated mobile home parks – are terrible, and the landscape is desolate. Trash heaps and illegal dumps litter the area. A nearby soil recycling plant emits a stink that many residents say causes them extreme discomfort. The region sits in stark contrast to the glitz and glamour of the western Coachella Valley that’s only a few minutes up Interstate-10.

Coachella 2010

When my friends and I tell our fellow concertgoers that we live literally five minutes away, they are incredulous. They seem to have had the impression that nobody under the age of 40 lives here. When I tell them I’m not from La Quinta, Indio, Palm Desert or Palm Springs, they ask, “What other cities are there here?”

Many times, we just say we’re from somewhere else to avoid the inevitable bemused looks and questioning. Why should I kill their Coachella buzz with tales about Mecca and Thermal, and the poverty and pollution endemic to them?