The Knight Foundation recently announced its new initiative, the “Knight Cities Challenge,” a $5 million offering for innovative ideas aimed at making cities in its 26 Knight communities more successful. It’s an international call seeking the brightest ideas from all walks of life. Anyone with a great idea -- from artists to Zen masters -- is encouraged to submit, keeping in mind the Knight Foundation’s key direction, “Cities that want long-term success should stimulate increases in talent, opportunity and engagement.”
San Jose is the only Knight Community in the Bay Area, but even if you live in San Francisco, Oakland, Palo Alto or elsewhere you can apply. The Knight Cities Challenge will accept applications from anywhere on the planet, but winning submissions must take place in a designated community. Consider collaborating with an individual artist or architect, a group of like-minded civic hackers or any organization residing in San Jose that resonates with you and represents the sort of change your idea might manifest. After all, success for San Jose is success for the Bay Area and its culture at large.
For years cities like San Jose have lost a good portion of their young creative talent to bigger cities offering a more diverse, urban environment. San Jose, like many others, just didn’t have what they desired to keep them living here in the South Bay. Over the past few years, as things like a vibrant arts and culture scene and highrise urban living have begun to emerge, that exodus has appeared to slow ever-so-slightly. But that’s just a start...
Creating more opportunities for economic success is critical for everyone in a city. However, there are some potential downfalls of lop-sided growth to consider. We saw it as the local economy pressed upward during the first dot-com boom and we’ve been watching it take place again for the past few years as talent clustering has taken over popular neighborhoods in San Francisco, forcing some long-time residents and small business owners out of the area. There’s a growing divide between the high-paying creative jobs and the lower-paying service industry. It’s a reality one needs to keep in mind.
My partner and I often share that we don’t visit other cities to see what their version of J Crew or the GAP look like; we visit a city to see and experience how its people live. The citizens of a city are what bring life to its streets. A vibrant, diverse and engaged community attracts talent and visitors. It’s as simple as that.
If you think you have a winning idea on how to manifest successful change in San Jose, be sure to visit KnightCities.org and apply. The deadline for submitting your big idea ends at 5pm ET on Friday, Nov. 14, 2014.