If you had $50,000 to improve your community, what would you do? Would you invest in infrastructure, build a park or fund a non-profit organization? Or might you try something a little more creative?
The Knight Cities Challenge pushes urban thinkers to do just that: think creatively about how to engage their community. There are 26 Knight Cities around the country, including Philadelphia and State College, and anyone in those cities can submit a project to the challenge. The winners, announced Tuesday, get a portion of $5 million.
The parameters for the challenge are very wide. Each project must address at least one of three issues:
- Talent, through ideas that help cities attract and keep the best and brightest
- Opportunity, or ideas that expand economic prospects and break down divides
- Engagement, ideas that spur connection and civic involvement.
It's that third point that captured John Stitzinger's interest. Stitzinger runs the Make Space, a community workshop where residents can build, create and test out new technologies and products. They have a 3-D printer, a laser cutter and whole lot of tools and construction equipment. What they don't have is enough community involvement.
"The simple goal was to make the Make Space known to the community," said Stitzinger. "It's a great resource that very few people know about. We've tried to do various demos and events, but there's still a lot of people that don't know it's available, and what kind of possibility a maker space can be."