2016 Media Learning Seminar looks at key ingredients to city success

Communities / Article

Above: Virtual-reality storytelling demo at University of Texas at Austin.

Watch the 2016 Knight Foundation Media Learning Seminar at knightfoundation.org/live May 2 – 3. 

When leaders in philanthropy, media and tech gather for Knight Foundation’s Media Learning Seminar next week, there will be goggles. Boxes of them, in fact, to help participants get a feel for virtual reality (VR) tools and what the storytelling trend means not just for journalism but for communities looking for new approaches to solving local issues.

The VR booth and panel are just one example of the ways the seminar, held by Knight Foundation every year since 2008, will look at how community and place-based foundations can better use news and information to build successful cities that help retain talent, expand opportunity and promote civic engagement. The main sessions will be streamed May 2-3 at knightfoundation.org/live.

In addition to exploring virtual reality, the conference will focus on future trends: Innovation expert and best-selling author Alec Ross will talk about the future of the economy and society, while Amy Webb of the Future Today Institute will explore what’s coming in tech. Both speakers will look at how leaders can anticipate or take advantage of trends to better their cities.

On Monday afternoon, the audience will get the behind-the-scenes scoop on the Philadelphia media story –  how a locally focused foundation came to own The Philadelphia Inquirer and one of the country’s largest news organizations. Pedro Ramos, President and CEO of The Philadelphia Foundation, and Terry Egger, publisher of the Philadelphia Media Network, will explore how the effort came to be, and what it means for the future of news in the city and the journalism industry.

Emmett Carson Ph.D.

Emmett Carson, Ph.D, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Silicon Valley. Photo by Patrick Farrell.

Several of the conversations will also focus on the changing role of community foundations over the past decades, evolving to be not just funders but leaders on important issues. In Lexington, Kentucky, for example, the Blue Grass Community Foundation has championed creating vibrant public spaces and engaged the community around building a linear park called the Town Branch Commons. In Chicago, the Community Trust has brought the city together through On the Table, an event where residents over dinner discuss issues facing the city.

Later, the Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley will talk about its work in fostering a people-first city, one that values livability and walkability over car culture. The city of Columbus, Georgia, and the community foundation are working to connect the city’s riverfront to the MidTown area. As part of the Knight Cities Challenge project Minimum Grid,  Gehl Studio New York  has looked at how residents use public spaces there. 

All of the main sessions will be streamed live at knightfoundation.org/live, where you can find a full schedule of events.