Knight Blog

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

How arts can help define communities and create a sense of place

Nov. 10, 2011, 9:01 a.m., Posted by Tatiana Hernandez

A panorama of Haas&Hahn's work in Colombia. Image by Haas&Hahn via Favela Painting

This post, written by Knight Foundation Arts Program Associate, Tatiana Hernandez, was originally published on the Americans for the Arts' Blog.

People have looked to the arts to help define their communities and create a sense of place for generations. So, why are we so excited about creative placemaking today? Perhaps it has something to do with context. In this digital world, many are reexamining the fundamental nature of “community” and our relationship to place. We now know, based on findings from the Knight Soul of the Community report, that social offerings, followed by openness and aesthetics explain why we love where we live. What does that tell us about the essential importance of our connection to place? “Vibrancy” is popping up as a way of describing the intangible nature of a neighborhood’s character. Here are three projects working to help define a sense of place in each of their communities.

Philadelphia has a strong tradition of mural work, and thanks to Mural Arts, artists and residents continue to come together to help define “home."  As part of their Knight Arts Challenge project, Mural Arts brought two Dutch artists, Haas&Hahn, to North Philadelphia to live, work and engage the community around a large-scale mural that will span several blocks of Germantown Avenue. Known for their abstract, colorful work in Santa Marta (Rio de Janeiro), Haas&Hahn will involve residents in the actual painting. They will begin training “team leaders” this fall before tackling the challenge of painting Germantown Avenue. I recently spent a (wet!) morning in Philadelphia with Dre Urhahn. He explained to me why he and his partner, Jeroen Koolhaas, were attracted to abstract work. “Traditional [figurative] murals tend to tell the story of what a community is or has been, abstract images are more likely to inspire a community as to what it can be.”

FCC announces $4 billion initiative to provide broadband access for eligible families

Nov. 9, 2011, 2:36 p.m., Posted by One Economy Corporation

Knight Foundation Vice President/Strategic Initiatives Paula Ellis on Connect to Compete and broadband adoption

By Kelley Dunne

When a bold or cutting-edge idea is proposed, it is difficult to find partners who are willing to back ideas that have never been attempted.  However, there are those visionary leaders who see the potential and promise of unexplored territory. The FCC has announced an unprecedented coalition of those visionary leaders who will partner for Connect to Compete, one of the biggest efforts to promote digital opportunities for disadvantaged people.

In continuing to unveil the details about Connect to Compete, the FCC today announced a $4 billion initiative from this country’s leading Internet service providers and technology companies, which will provide affordable broadband access for eligible families.  Families with at least one child enrolled in the free school lunch program will be eligible to receive high-speed Internet for $9.95 a month and refurbished computers for $150 or new computers beginning at $250, with financing options to help with upfront costs. 

While student media presence remains strong in schools, only one-third have online media

Nov. 9, 2011, 8:57 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

Source: 2011 Scholastic Journalism Census

A new study reveals that while student media presence remains strong, only one-third of schools surveyed have any online student media. Additionally, schools that are smaller and poorer or have large minority populations are more likely to have no student media.

The study by the Center for Scholastic Journalism is one of the most extensive national counts of American public high school student media ever conducted.