Articles by

Carol Coletta

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    Related Link Browse the Interactive Report Now Join the conversation Knight Foundation will host a Twitter chat at 1 p.m. ET on June 11, 2015 to discuss the findings and get public feedback. Follow @knightfdn and use #votelocal to participate.   When I was 7, I remember handing out literature at our polling place on Election Day for Buford Ellington, a Democrat who served as governor of Tennessee. In a seventh-grade class debate, I made the case for Barry Goldwater for president. In high school, I started knocking on doors for City Council candidates. At age 20 I proudly cast my first ballot in a presidential election. I’ve supported winners and losers, but I’ve never lost my enthusiasm for exercising my right as a citizen to vote. That’s why it is hard for me to understand why people – especially millennials – don’t vote, particularly in local elections. Concerned about this growing trend, Knight Foundation commissioned Lake Research Partners to help us learn why. Lake conducted focus groups in three very different Knight cities (Akron, Ohio, Miami and Philadelphia) with “drop-off” millennial voters – millennials who vote in national elections but do not vote in local elections. What we heard was, at once, disappointing but instructive. • Millennials don’t feel they have information they can trust about candidates in local races. • Local elections get far less attention than do national elections, so there is not as much social pressure to participate or news about when elections are occurring. • They are not certain what local government does, and they don’t believe local government reflects their values.
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    As American cities fill with new and smaller households, school populations are shrinking. And that means a lot of closed schools in communities with no idea how to repurpose them. Enter Lindsey Scannapieco, principal with Scout, Ltd. and now the enthusiastic developer of the Edward Bok Technical School in South Philadelphia. It is a mammoth undertaking – an eight-story, 340,000-square-foot hulk of a building with two gyms, one of the city’s largest auditoriums, science labs, a commercial kitchen and more.
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    Is it possible to forecast the future? Institute for the Future has been doing that for almost 50 years. Kathi Vian leads Institute for the Futures’ Ten-Year Forecast, which was just released for the institute’s clients. It explores seven economies working at once to produce a future with a lot of surprises. We talked to Kathi last week from her offices in Palo Alto, Calif., and here are the five things you need to know from our conversation on the Ten-Year Forecast. 1.     Seven economies are operating all at once over the next 10 years. Each is in a different stage of evolution. Those economies are: corporate, consumer, collaborative, creative, civil, criminal and crypto. 2.     The corporate economy is vulnerable like never before, automating for profits but also for volatility, while the increasingly volatile consumer economy is automating for instant gratification.
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    Even though young college-educated adults are moving to city centers in far greater numbers than any time in 40 years, it is also true that poverty is growing in most American cities. While at least one strategy for tackling poverty – increasing the minimum wage – is gaining strength, the policy response to the problem has been pretty anemic. Enter Scott Bernstein. As president and co-founder of the Center for Neighborhood Technology in Chicago, Scott is working on detailed plans to show cities how they can reduce the cost of living for people with low incomes and at the same time, put those same people to work to make the changes that reduce their cost of living. It’s an approach that defies conventional thinking, and I talked to Scott earlier this week to learn more. Here are five things you should know from our conversation: 1.    Reducing the cost to families of transportation, residential energy consumption, sewer services, food, and telecommunications are five big ways to lower the cost of living, especially for people with low incomes.
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    Joy. Play. Whimsy. Those are words not often used to describe city planning and the associated public engagement it usually requires. But with its Market Street Prototyping Festival, San Francisco inverted the traditional planning model and turned its main street into a canvas for testing ideas submitted by citizens. The result, on display for three days in early April, was a collection of 52 passion projects up and down Market Street that the public could experience and play with. Neil Hrushowy, program director with the City Design Group, led the effort for the City and County of San Francisco Planning Department. Here are five things you should know about my conversation with Neil.
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    Are “creative” and “bureaucracy” mutually exclusive terms? Erma Ranieri is working hard to prove otherwise. As commissioner for public sector employment in South Australia, she is leading [email protected] to speed change in government. For her efforts to make government bureaucracy creative and responsive to citizens she was named 2014 Telstra South Australia Business Woman of the Year. [email protected] initiatives, such as the Public Sector Values, 90-day projects and High-Performance Framework, encourage change and contribute to a vibrant public service that works together and solves problems for and with the community. 
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    With city finances squeezed, the call for public-private partnerships is increasing. But even in the best of circumstances, they can be tricky to manage. Kathryn Ott Lovell is responsible for one of the nation’s largest non-commercial public-private partnerships. She is executive director of the Fairmount Park Conservancy, an independent nonprofit organization that champions Philadelphia’s vast park system, where she orchestrates the daily dance of balancing public and private concerns and responsibilities to produce quality parks for citizens. Kathryn is also responsible for managing the collaboration of five civic assets in Philadelphia...  
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    Shawn McCaney, program director of creative communities at the William Penn Foundation, has been a leader in reimagining Philadelphia’s civic commons, those places that together encourage us to cross paths with our neighbors, encounter new ideas and make broader connections. Shawn has been an aggressive advocate for better planning, design and land use practice, for model planning initiatives, and for capital investments that demonstrate quality design. Most recently, the William Penn Foundation and Knight Foundation joined in an $11 million investment in five civic assets – old and new – in Philadelphia neighborhoods.
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    Civic innovators from across the country, including the Knight communities, helped review more than 7,000 applications for the first Knight Cities Challenge. Just six months ago, we launched the first Knight Cities Challenge. It attracted more than 7,000 applications, and we were, at once, thrilled and overwhelmed – thrilled because there are so many people who want to test their ideas for making their cities more successful, but overwhelmed by the number of good ideas submitted. 
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    Is it time for a new kind of local economy in our cities, one that’s based on people sharing their knowledge? Tessy Britton believes it is. Tessy and her colleagues at Civic Systems Lab are building a city framework where people can teach skills to those around them and learn new ones. It’s part sharing economy, part neighborliness. I asked Tessy about the Civic Systems Lab and what she calls the “new civic economy” she is helping to build.