K880 Fellows Make Waves with Innovative Community Projects

For many people, life slows down a bit in the summer months. For the K880 Emerging City Champions, this summer was a time to make things happen. This would come as no surprise to anyone who has met one of these energetic and inspiring go-getters. The Emerging City Champions are an incredible group of young adults from eight different cities in the U.S. who have big ideas to make their communities healthier, happier, and more socially connected. The program is run by 8 80 Cities, with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Beginning in June 2015, each Champion was given one year and $5,000 to transform their neighbourhoods, so there wasn’t much time to waste. Several Champions have already made waves, and grabbed the attention of local media outlets for their efforts. The list below is a collection recent news articles that have come across our radar:

CHAD ROCHKIND has compared the experience of crossing the seven lanes of Michigan Avenue to a real-life game of Frogger. In an effort to calm traffic, improve safety, and reclaim road space for pedestrians, Chad and his team installed a 208-square-foot parklet in a parking spot along Michigan Avenue in August. The temporary space was removed after one week, but not before making national news and sparking conversations about improving the public realm in the Corktown neighbourhood. “It was never about the parklet. It was about starting a long-term process for transforming Michigan Avenue,” said Chad.

Michigan Avenue Parklet. Photo credit: Matthew Lewis











Reclaiming a Detroit Road, One Parking Space at a Time

ERIN SALAZAR has set an ambitious goal – to cover 40,000 square feet of blank, boring walls in downtown San Jose with vibrant, colourful murals. The organization is also a strong advocate for professional wages for artists working to beautify their city. This summer, the Exhibition District premiered its first wall mural, designed by local artist Mathew Scicluna. The mural “depicts a woman pressing a button that releases colorful cogs and streams, in a nod to the spirit of innovation at the Tech Shop and in Silicon Valley.” The Exhibition District’s third mural will be unveiled in early October. In other exciting news, the organization is now officially registered as a non-profit charity, which means it’s never been easier to support their inspiring work.










San Jose’s Exhibition District Harvests Local Arts Economy

RACHEL HOLLAR hosted the kick-off meeting for Bike Macon, a new community group that will advocate for safer cycling infrastructure in Macon. Over 50 enthusiastic people attended the meeting, despite a game-time decision to cancel an inaugural bike ride due to poor weather. The group aims to connect neighbors across Macon by using fun and creativity to help make residents more comfortable with walking and biking around town. In a matter of weeks, Rachel and her team of volunteers have become the community voice for all things cycling in Macon.






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