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    We live in a time of disruption for local news and information. Local media continues to shrink, trust in journalistic institutions is at an all-time low, and people can’t even agree on what constitutes a fact.  It’s a difficult time to navigate, especially if you believe like we do that good, accurate and contextual information is essential to strong communities and a healthy democracy. Local news and information is particularly important to our lives. How else can you learn about your children’s school system or the pollutants in your neighborhood lake?  
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    Anika Goss-Foster is the executive director of Detroit Future City, a nonprofit dedicated to implementing a 50-year strategic vision for the city of Detroit. Below she writes about the organization’s 139 Square Miles report, released today. 
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    Della Heiman is founder of The Wynwood Yard, an outdoor gathering space, culinary incubator, and community hub for culture, food and entrepreneurship. Below, she shares the story of how, in less than two years, The Yard has created a platform for entrepreneurs to shine in the Magic City. The Wynwood Yard is receiving $100,000 in new support from Knight Foundation. 
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    In June, Knight Foundation sent a cohort of U.S. librarians from institutions around the country to the Next Library Conference, an annual gathering held in Aarhus, Denmark that brings together library leaders from around the world to discuss innovative programs, services and ideas in the field. 20 U.S. librarians from 11 cities joined hundreds of colleagues who attended the conference from around the globe, from China to Kenya to the Caribbean.
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    There is magic happening on the fifth floor of Miami Dade College’s Idea Center. Girl magic, that is.Amid the gray and teal walls of MDC’s hub for innovation and entrepreneurship, a group of bright high school girls have gathered to take part in the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program. A seven-week learning adventure, this program is designed to give girls an introduction to programming languages while simultaneously empowering them with tools to create websites, apps and networks of friends and mentors in the field of technology.
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    Every morning during the usually merry month of May, I received a text message from a mysterious source asking me to draw a card. After exchanging pleasantries, this entity, named The End, would provide me with a password to enter a web portal. There, I’d find a link to a video of a New Orleans funeral, say, or to a portrait gallery of adults recreating decades-old photographs taken during their youth. Primed to muse on the special people, places and things in my life, I was ready to pursue a quest.
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    Suzie Graham is president of Downtown Akron Partnership, a nonprofit organization that builds and promotes the vibrancy and value of downtown Akron. Below, she writes about undertaking focused public space improvements in the downtown to improve neighborhood life. Downtown Akron Partnership is receiving $1.5 million in new support from Knight Foundation. Visualize a vibrant city. Several features typically come to mind: authentic architecture, distinctive destinations, inviting green spaces, delicious and diverse food, intriguing art, a variety of transportation options and one critical and consistent element— ever-present people. The ways that people interact with a place, and with other people in that place, define the character and quality of a city.
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    Coming up with a big idea to improve your city is one thing. Digging into the gnarly details of launching and scaling that project it is quite a different story.That’s why Knight Foundation brought together the winners from all three years of the Knight Cities Challenge last week, to network, learn and exchange ideas for making their cities more successful.The week began with a celebration of the latest winning projects at Miami’s Lyric Theater. Then, over the next few days, they dug into lessons from past winners – talking about how Macon, Georgia, for example, was able to launch a pilot project to increase its bike lanes tenfold, while Philadelphia made its once vacant pools the summer hot spot. And how in Boulder, Colorado the city was able to solve two challenges in one shot – by having homeless people who needed workforce training learn to turn diseased tree branches into works of art. (These benches and butterflies are beautiful, and quickly sell out.)
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    Magic Leap still hasn’t released a product. But the dream world it’s creating keeps getting richer and richer.Magic Leap founder and CEO Rony Abovitz spoke this week at the eMerge Americas conference on Miami Beach, joining Jean-Pierre Bardet, dean of University of Miami’s College of Engineering, on a panel moderated by Knight Foundation’s Miami program director, Matt Haggman.Virtual reality and augmented reality, he suggested, are just gateway technologies to the experience the secretive South Florida company is building.
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    A new project is adding a bit of color to what was once a drab, vacant building in the heart of Downtown San Jose.Erin Salazar, founding founding executive director of Exhibition District, and her organization have worked with the city and downtown association to transform a former retail store into a creative community center they call Local Color, a just-announced winner of the 2017 Knight Cities Challenge. 
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    Congratulations to the 33 winners of the 2017 Knight Cities Challenge. This is Knight Foundation’s third year running the challenge in our 26 communities. Each year we have posed a simple question: “What’s your best idea to make cities more successful?” The rules are simple and so is the application process. We want to encourage ideas from anyone with a good idea and the ability to execute it.
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    Francisco D’Elia sees the effects of climate change every day in Miami Beach, where the city is installing pumps and raising streets to mitigate the effects of sea level rise.Now D’Elia, a geographic information systems analyst in the city’s Public Works Department, is taking his big ideas for addressing climate change to Silicon Valley as the winner of Singularity University’s 2017 Miami Global Impact Challenge.
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    Watch the 2017 Personal Democracy Forum live stream.Over the past few months we’ve seen a surge in civic activism in communities across America. From the history-making women’s march to the march for science, ordinary people have begun to get more involved in attempting to shape the policies and decisions that affect their lives. This year, Knight Foundation is sponsoring the Personal Democracy Forum as it explores how we can strengthen our democratic institutions and civic life.This annual conference will bring together civic leaders, technologists, journalists, and others to discuss society’s most pressing issues. Speakers such as New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, net neutrality expert Tim Wu, and other civic leaders will take to the stage this year. Broad topic areas being explored include civic technology, ideas and provocations, media Innovation, and grassroots and digital organizing.