Pair of Plans for City Make Knight’s List

By: Dave Gong | The Journal Gazette

Two Fort Wayne proposals have made it to the final round of the Knight Foundation’s Knight Cities Challenge.

The proposals – a Creative Collaboratory Jam suggested by The NIIC and an initiative called Tired-a-Lot brought forward by the Bridge of Grace Compassionate Ministries Center – join 156 other finalists nationwide identified Tuesday by the Knight Foundation.

As proposed, Tired-a-Lot would create a design studio to challenge young people to identify and create ways to repurpose vacant neighborhood lots with low-cost materials, such as used tires or wooden pallets. The Creative Collaboratory Jam would create an art and technology space where people come together to solve community problems.

“Tired-a-Lot is basically an effort for us to address concerns that our neighborhood residents have already,” said Réna Bradley, community development director at Bridge of Grace Compassionate Ministries Center. “We’ve been doing a listening tour of sorts, and residents have expressed the desire to build stronger relationships among themselves, to get to know each other, and to repurpose some of the vacant green lots in our area.”

The Bridge of Grace Compassionate Ministries Center is in the Mount Vernon Park neighborhood on Fort Wayne’s southeast side.

In addition to fostering civic engagement, Bradley said the program would also provide a chance to expose young people to the creative arts.

“My background is in architecture, and I feel like a lot of youth aren’t aware of the career fields that are related to art and creativity,” she said. “Also, once the lots are completed, it’s our hope that they will provide a social offering of sorts. We hope that they will be spaces where people can come together.”

Mike Fritsch, entrepreneur in residence at The NIIC, was unavailable for comment Tuesday afternoon.

The projects were proposed for the second annual Knight Cities Challenge, which the Knight Foundation describes as a national call for ideas to make the 26 communities where Knight invests more vibrant places to live and work. The challenge asked applicants to answer the question, “What’s your best idea to make cities more successful?”

More than 4,500 applicants across the country applied. The winners, who will be announced this spring, will receive a share of a $5 million prize.

Media Contact: dgong@jg.net


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