A new beekeeper suits up and explores Public Hives. (Photo via PublicHives)

Meet the K880 Emerging City Champions 2017: Danielle and Josh

It’s been almost a year since these urban innovators have launched projects to make their cities more engaged, safe, healthy and fun. Find out who they are, what they’ve created and what they’ve learned.

by Emma Jones, Jonathan von Ofenheim

Danielle Bender

Miami, Florida

Meet the Champ: This innovator spends her nine to five writing grants and managing projects for a non-profit arts organization. And these days, she spends the rest of her time with bees: Danielle Bender is passionate about pollinating her community.

Danielle’s innovation story: When Danielle heard that measures to address the Zika virus — a contagious virus caused primarily by mosquitoes — had impacted South Florida’s dwindling bee population, she knew she had to do something.

Although she didn’t know much about taking care of bees, she had an idea. Bringing beehives to public spaces, she thought, could support Miami’s distressed bee population and encourage neighbours of all ages to get to know each other while tending to the hives.

After starting the project, which she calls Public Hives, and posting photos to her Instagram account, requests to visit began flowing into her inbox. So far, around 60 people have stopped by, suited up and learned how to care for the bees. Most of them, she says, were scared of bees when they arrived.

“It’s really exciting to know that approximately 60 people had never been around bees, and then in the process of coming to these hives, they’re able to change their perspectives,” says Danielle.

For Danielle, the coolest part has been seeing that people aren’t only learning about how to care for bees. They’re “pollinating themselves,” says Danielle. “They’re reaching out to their neighbours, talking to people that they know in the area, making new friends in neighbours that they maybe didn’t know.”

Photo Credit: A new beekeeper suits up and explores Public Hives. (Photo via PublicHives)

Josh Nadzam
Lexington, Kentucky

Meet the Champ: Josh Nadzam thinks empowering kids in Lexington, Kentucky, can start with a vintage trailer and a blank canvas. Trained in social work, Nadzam combines his passion for supporting people and his love for Lexington through community initiatives.

Josh’s innovation story: Josh is a part of On the Move Art Studio, a nonprofit mobile art room that travels to low-income neighbourhoods to host free kids arts classes. The classes teach a range of arts methods but strive to support at-risk youth in discovering friendships, skills and self-confidence.

Busy students inside the On the Move trailer studio. (Photo via On the Move Art Studio)

For Josh, the project has been all about responding to community interest but it also has personal roots.

“I grew up in a very poor neighbourhood with a lot of crime, a lot of broken families,” he says. “So I try to be really sensitive about this stuff.”

The approach has paid off. As soon as the On the Move crew approached communities with their idea, requests for classes came in fast. So fast, Josh says, they haven’t been able to keep up with requests.

Most surprising about the success of the project, he says, is that all the kids seem to love it.

“I thought maybe there would be some teenagers who were really indifferent because when you’re a teenager, it’s cool not to care,” he says. “But it’s been amazing to see indifferent, ‘I’m too cool because I’m a teenager’ kind of kids still really engage with it.”

“The hope is just the idea of, ‘Oh, I can do that.’ So a lot of times when we say, ‘Okay everybody, here’s what we’re making today,’ some of the first words are, ‘I can’t do that,’ or, ‘I don’t know how to do that,’” he says. “We use art as the medium to end those feelings, because if you can attempt a difficult art project with markers and paint, then later on in your life, you’ll be able to attempt a goal, or a job that you didn’t think you could do — things like that.”

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