MidTown Blog

Tidbits from the Knight Cities Challenge Winners Summit

KCC Winners Summit, groupJune 17-19, 2015
Representing MidTown, Inc.’s Minimum Grid project: City Manager Isaiah Hugley and MidTown, Inc. Executive Director Anne King

Isaiah Hugley and I had the privilege of representing the Minimum Grid project at the Winners Summit in Detroit, May 17-19. It was an inspiring three days, surrounded by a host of brilliant innovators. Truth be told, it was a little daunting to be in the company of so much intellect and talent. It was also a singular opportunity to meet people from around the country who are doing great work to make their cities more successful. Each person I spoke with helped affirm and inform what we are doing as an organization and community, and offered ideas that will help enliven our community and carry the Minimum Grid project forward.

Below are random, meaningful, thought-provoking and instructive quotes gleaned from workshops and presentations.

Carol Coletta, Knight Foundation Vice President for Community and National Initiatives, at opening reception: Be empowered to take risks!

New terms to describe vacant/abandoned/underutilized spaces, from Philadelphia: urban voids, wasted spaces

Robert Hammond, Co-founder of the High Line, NYC:

A great logo represents a commitment to design excellence.
Make the crazy credible.
Be ready to take “no,” over and over.
The High Line’s success lies in the fact that it is part of the city–not an escape from it–but gives you a different way of seeing it.
Public meetings aren’t to create a to-do list, but to start a conversation.

Carol Coletta:

Knight is investing in civic innovators who use place–and encourage economic integration–to drive city success. Can we make places so delightful and engaging that they encourage people of ALL incomes to engage? I am particularly interested in mid-size cities. Why emphasis on talent, opportunity and engagement? We want to see you demonstrating new ways of doing things in your city. You have an opportunity to frame the discussion.

Melissa Mongiat, 21 Swings, Montreal:, bring magic, enable connections, make places. Create spaces that tell a story.

Janette Sadik-Kan, 2007-2013 director of NYC-DOT, quoted by Fred Dust, partner, IDEO: you can work a lot of mischief with a bucket of paint.

Theaster Gates, artist, director of Arts and Public Life, University of Chicago:

Amenities are complicated. An amenity for some can be a barrier for others. We must strive to create vibrant and permeable communities.

Charles Landry, author, Cities of Ambition: Unless you have places to gather, you are in trouble. Unless you are working toward walkability, you are in trouble. Successful walkability is about “foreshortening mental distance.”

Joe Cortright, economist, founder of cityobservatory.org: You need opportunities to connect, civic commons; play has been privatized. Walkable, bikable, distinctive places do better economically.

Carol’s response to Joe’s presentation: What is the thin layer we can add to bring people of different backgrounds together in the same space? Can we invent new ways to make common space for people who today are “sorted”? Make common space!

Carol’s concluding statement: everybody here is a teacher and a learner.

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