3 ideas to make Charlotte more successful get funding from Knight Foundation

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The Knight Cities Challenge revolves around one simple question: What’s your best idea to make cities more successful?

Anyone could submit an idea. The 10 finalists, announced in January, submitted more detailed proposals. And today we learned what projects won a piece of the $5 million from the Knight Foundation to make the idea happen.

[Related: Knight Foundation Charlotte program director Charles Thomas talks about the Knight Cities Challenge on The Good News Is podcast.]

These aren’t huge, grandiose ideas. They’re smaller ones, ones that can be pulled off quickly and have an impact.

A panel of reviewers chose to fund 37 projects nationwide. Three are in Charlotte, receiving a total of $197,900.

The 2016 Charlotte winners: 

CrownTownHall, City of Charlotte — $85,000

Submitted by Jason Lawrence. 

The idea: Help residents get more involved with civic issues and connect with local government by hosting pop-up events to meet with “elected officials, sign up for city services, and review area planning efforts.”

Can Do Signs, City of Charlotte — $27,900

Submitted by Sarah Hazel (who also won last year).

The idea: Signs typically tell people “what not to do.” This project will create signs that “provide amusing, enchanting, fun options: You can dance! You can sing! You can skip!”

Queen City Quiz Show, Charlotte Is Creative — $85,000

Submitted by Tim Miner and Matt Olin (the minds behind CreativeMornings/Charlotte).

The idea: Create a mobile quiz show that will “team local musicians and artists with cultural groups to entertain, enlighten and challenge diverse communities with questions about the city from the trivial to the pertinent and controversial.”

Tim Miner talking about the Queen City Quiz Show during an event at Free Range Brewing.
Tim Miner talking about the Queen City Quiz Show during an event at Free Range Brewing.

(See a list of all 37 winners nationwide here.)

Charlotte had three winners last year, all from the City. A look at what they’ve been up to:

No Barriers Project, City of Charlotte (Sarah Hazel): $67,100.

The aim: To bring together two diverse neighborhoods with a public park, Anita Stroud Park, just north of uptown. Based on experiences with temporary events (see some photos here), the leaders of the project have decided to start a No Barriers Project Series for this summer, according to Hazel. The series will include:

– Working with a local artist to design murals “in a participatory process.”

– Music programming and exercise dance programming.

– A “colorful birdhouse intervention throughout the park,” well residents paint bird houses and put them around the space.

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Courtesy of City of Charlotte Corporate Communications

Porch” Swings in Public Places, City of Charlotte (Tom Warshauer): $28,000.

The aim: To “foster conversation among strangers” by putting porch swings in public places. The project will install five swings along Central Avenue and in Plaza Midwood, according to Warshauer. Plaza Midwood was chosen because of its “ethnic diversity and popularity among millenials,” he wrote in an email.

The locations:

– CMPD Eastway Division on Central Avenue at Merry Oaks.
– Charlotte Fire Department Station 8 on The Plaza at Commonwealth.
– Midwood International Cultural Center.
– Memorial United Methodist Church.
– Central Pointe Apartments.

The swings should be fully installed by fall of 2016.

Take Ten Initiative, City of Charlotte (Alyssa Dodd): $74,000.

The aim: For City of Charlotte employees to take 10 minutes each week to engage someone in the community in a conversation about how to make Charlotte better.

In their March video update, it says the initiative has talked to more than 1,000 people in the city. Some of the things they’ve heard:

– More light rail.
– Fewer “cookie-cutter” developments.
– Parks with more benches for people to gather and relax.

Photos: Corey Inscoe; Courtesy of City of Charlotte Corporate Communications.

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