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

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    Maker mindset empowers us to create more value with less resources

    Feb. 1, 2016, 9 a.m., Posted by Ric Herrero

    Above: Miami Mini Maker Faire 2013 by Michael D. Bolden on Flickr.

    Ric Herrero is co-founder of MIAMade, organizer of the Miami Mini Maker Faire. A previous supporter of MIAMade, Knight Foundation is expanding its support with $250,000 in new funding.

    The resourcefulness, creativity and emphasis on learning that has come to define the maker movement are being increasingly applied to tackle social, economic and environmental challenges facing communities around the world.

    Makers take a hands-on approach to deliver social and economic value using fewer natural resources and doing so in increasingly affordable ways. Whether harnessing modern-day tools such as open source collaboration, digital fabrication, financial tech, and microcontrollers or combining them with traditional craftsmanship and tried-and-true design and engineering practices, these do-it-yourself innovators see technology as a means to an end—and that end is to create a more inclusive and sustainable world.

    MIAMade seeks to drive deeper engagement by South Floridians into the maker movement and related fields by providing a platform to learn and co-create in socially impactful and sustainable ways. Our programming for 2016 takes a normative approach to reaching individuals of all ages and interests through a series of interconnected events and educational programs.

    Thanks to the support of Knight Foundation, it all begins with the third Miami Mini Maker Faire, which expands into a two-day festival and concert on Feb. 20-21 at the National YoungArts Foundation campus. The 2016 Faire will take the first step in positioning the Miami Mini Maker Faire as a showcase for makers and do-it-yourself innovators from around the Americas, by inviting exhibitors from Cuba and other parts of Latin America to share their creations with local audiences. It will also feature a free concert by two music makers who embody the maker spirit, Cuban singer and multi-instrumentalist X Alfonso and Miami’s own Afrobeta. Alfonso is the founder of the Fabrica de Arte Cubano in Havana, a mixed arts and performance space that is a world-class model of collective ingenuity. Several of the artisans currently exhibiting in it are scheduled to share their creations at our Maker Faire.

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    Global detroit’s pioneering efforts honored with national innovation award

    Jan. 29, 2016, 9:52 a.m., Posted by Steve Tobocman

    This article has been cross-posted with permission from the Global Detroit blog. Steve Tobocman is the Director of Global Detroit. Follow @GlobalDet on Twitter.

    Today, Global Detroit was honored to receive one of the first-ever Renewal Awards, created by the National Journal and Atlantic magazines with Allstate, to recognize the innovators, grassroots organizers and problem-solvers who are making progress against the greatest challenges facing America. The awards identify and celebrate efforts across the country that are tackling vital issues, from education to economic opportunity, from health care to neighborhood revitalization.

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    Steve Tobocman. Photos courtesy Global Detroit.

    National recognition of Global Detroit and our immigrant economic development efforts in Detroit indicates the growing energy of our work and of the work of our peers nationwide. This kind of national recognition signals widespread acceptance of immigration as an economic development and community renewal strategy. Receiving this prestigious award on the 5th anniversary of the beginning of our first programs suggests the hard work of our staff, board, partner organizations, and volunteers has produced real results and has not gone unnoticed.

    The Renewal Awards celebrate innovators that are renewing America from the ground up despite a na­tion­al sys­tem mired in stale­mate. Immigration reform is no stranger to stalemate, and any type of meaningful reform appears no closer despite immigration’s now constant (and heated) seat on the political stage. Despite the gridlock in Congress, however – or perhaps because of it – local and regional efforts to effectively integrate immigrants and refugees have surged with new-found allies and energy. Over the last few years, the growth in both number and scope of these programs is astounding, and reveals a strong momentum in the field of immigrant economic development. Global Detroit is a pioneer among these programs, and the Renewal Award solidifies our reputation as a national leader in the emerging field of immigrant economic development, as well as a national leader in developing innovative and creative solutions to revitalizing Detroit and Metro Detroit’s economy.

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    Exhibit brings together artists' visions for Detroit's Little Libraries

    Jan. 29, 2016, 6 a.m., Posted by Rosie Sharp

    Above: The “Detroit Little Library Originals” exhibit will run at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit’s Mobile Homestead through April 24.

    If you build, they will read.

    That seems to be the underlying conceit of the Little Free Library movement, founded in 2009 in Hudson, Wis., by a man named Todd Bol. Since his first Little Library, the idea of distributing free books on a take-one, leave-one basis out of eye-catching, publicly mounted boxes has become a bona fide international craze, sparking localized efforts to create a network of 30,000 Little Libraries in communities all around the world.

    For Kim Kozlowski, the idea of Little Libraries in Detroit took hold in 2014, and since then, she has vowed to make the city the Little Library capital of the world. In a place where an estimated 47 percent of adults are functionally illiterate, the need for community-based support of reading is undeniable. Starting with a donation of 20 library boxes from Bol in November of 2014, Kozlowski has been a tireless advocate for the construction, dissemination and stewardship of Little Libraries all across the city.

    To date, Detroit Little Libraries has partnered with organizations including Rx for Reading Detroit, a nonprofit literacy group; Detroit SOUP, a Knight Arts grantee that supports social entrepreneurs; Detroit Parks; General Motors; Chrysler; and the End Grain Woodworking Co., which builds many of the Little Libraries from reclaimed wood salvaged from abandoned Detroit houses.

    The libraries stand in community gardens, parks and outside schools, as well as in front of the homes of stewards who request them and are responsible for their care and maintenance (one sits outside the Write-A-House, another Knight Arts grantee). This stewardship includes getting the word out to communities about the existence of the library, making sure the library is kept stocked with appropriate books, and repairing boxes in the case of elemental damage or vandalism. The basic libraries are typically freestanding, mounted on posts and resembling large birdhouses with a windowed front door that offers a glimpse into their contents; however, the format leaves much room for imagination.

    In an effort to raise the profile of the Little Libraries movement in Detroit, and to demonstrate the wide range of possibilities, Kozlowski organized a group of local artists to apply their imaginations and talents to a series of special Little Libraries, currently being displayed at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit’s Mobile Homestead—a perfect fit for the facility’s mission of participatory and social practice art. On Saturday, Jan. 23, Kozlowski moderated an artist panel with five of the participating artists, talking about their motivations and inspiration for the boxes they created. (The MOCAD is a recipient of multiple Knight Arts grants.)

    Saturday's panel discussion, with Kim Kozlowski (left), Barbara Barefield, Kelly O'Hara, Ndubisi Okoye, Eno Laget (not visible) and Debora Grace.

    The panel included Barbara Barefield, who is a champion of the Little Library and other arts-based efforts in the Palmer Park and Palmer Woods area. Her box, “Sweet Reading,” is embellished with an angel and a mermaid, both happily reading, and affords previews of the books inside through peek-a-boo windows all around the box. She sees a strong desire for books in her neighborhood. “The box in Palmer Park is always empty, no matter how many times a day we put books in there,” she said.

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