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Knight Cities Challenge finalists include urban beach, civic engagement, and activated green spaces

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Michelle & Chris Gerard

The finalists for the 2017 Knights Cities Challenge were announced this week, and out of the 144 finalists, 21 are from Detroit. The Challenge encourages participants to make their cities more successful. Many of Detroit’s finalists include an emphasis on public spaces.

A few finalists that piqued our curiosity include:

  • Atwater Beach by Detroit RiverFront Conservancy: Further activating the Detroit waterfront by creating an inviting, urban beach along the city’s Atwater Street.
  • Crossing Trumbull by Woodbridge Neighborhood Development Corp.: Bringing together the residents of Woodbridge, often divided geographically and socio-economically, through adult walking and youth biking clubs.
  • City Asset Map: Mapping Mobility in Motown by Detroit Experience Factory: Fostering connection and civic involvement in Detroit by creating a map that highlights cultural, educational and mobility resources, such as libraries, health centers, museums, educational spaces, bike infrastructure and parks.
  • Design Center in a Box: A Place for Informed Community Exchange by City of Detroit Department of Planning: Promoting civic engagement by creating “pop-up” city planning offices where residents can connect with city planning staff and others to exchange ideas and become informed about the design and planning work happening in their neighborhood and the city at large.
  • Mack Lot: A New Kind of Gathering Place by MACC Development: Bringing people of different backgrounds together by transforming a vacant 8,000-square-foot lot into a meeting space that will include a performance stage, a playground, rain gardens, public work spaces and space for food vendors.

Other finalists’ ideas include projects around increased resources and opportunity for neighborhood planning, activating vacant lots into community and green spaces, and opportunities for connecting neighbors. We’ll be following up on some of these specific projects in the next few weeks. A full list of finalists can be found here.

Applicants have to follow only two rules: 1) A submission may come from anywhere, but the project must benefit one or more of 26 Knight communities; and 2) The idea should focus on one or all of three key drivers of city success, talent, opportunity and engagement.

Winners will be announced in the spring and will share up to $5 million for their projects.