Knight Cities Podcast



Carol Coletta of Knight Foundation unearths innovative ideas for making cities successful and interviews the people behind them.


  • Knight Cities podcast: Alice Cabaret on innovating to improve neighborhoods (episode 16)

    26/11/2014 Duration: 15min

    Imagine a globally connected set of urban studios inviting citizens to work on their best ideas for regenerating disinvested neighborhoods. That’s the ambitious vision of South African Alice Cabaret, founder and director of GRIND, the Global Regeneration Initiative for Neighbourhood Development. GRIND is headed to Detroit and other U.S. and European cities after making its debut in Johannesburg. Alice is also urban strategist for Propertuity, developers of Johannesburg’s most exciting new creative district, the Maboneng Precinct. Alice is this week’s guest on “Knight Cities.” Email me via: Coletta (at)

  • Knight Cities podcast: Leslie Koch on transforming New York’s Governors Island into a vibrant public space (episode 15)

    19/11/2014 Duration: 18min

    How do you create a radically open platform for building new cultural capital in cities? That's been the job of Leslie Koch, president of the Trust for Governors Island, a nonprofit organization created by the city of New York to run what is an historic former military base being transformed into a park by and for New Yorkers. With the lightest possible touch, she has transformed a set of empty buildings and grounds into a platform animated by artists, collectors, and passionate hobbyists. It's a model every city can learn from. Email me via: Coletta (at)

  • Knight Cities podcast: A conversation on race and inclusion with Angela Glover Blackwell of PolicyLink (episode 14)

    12/11/2014 Duration: 25min

    The quest to be a “just and fair” nation seems like a goal every American can rally around. But when you start unpacking the racial implications of that ambition, things can get complicated fast. Angela Glover Blackwell is founder of PolicyLink, a national organization that continues to lead the always-difficult debate on race, class and inclusion in America, and she is our guest this week on “Knight Cities.” Listen to my conversation with Angela here. And sign up for the “Knight Cities” newsletter to get alerts as soon as new conversations are posted. Email me via: Coletta (at)

  • Knight Cities podcast: Terry Mazany on what's next for Chicago (episode 13)

    05/11/2014 Duration: 27min

    What would happen if thousands of people in your city got together with friends, neighbors, even strangers on a single day over a meal to discuss the future of your community? That’s the question the people at the Chicago Community Trust asked on the occasion of the foundation's 99th anniversary. And the results should serve as inspiration to cities everywhere. Terry Mazany, president of the Chicago Community Trust and mastermind behind Chicago’s "On the Table," reports on the event and tells us what’s next on this week’s "Knight Cities." Email me via: Coletta (at)

  • Knight Cities podcast: Mary Kramer discusses the catalytic effect of the catalytic effect of The Detroit Homecoming (episode 12)

    29/10/2014 Duration: 14min

    Imagine a homecoming that brought more than 100 of your city’s native luminaries back to town to see for themselves what life is like now. Then imagine you invited their investment in real estate, in businesses, in the people of your city. That's what happened in Detroit when Mary Kramer of Crain’s Detroit organized a get-together of epic proportions, complete with a prospectus of investment opportunities.This week on 'Knight Cities,' Mary describes the homecoming experience in Detroit and why the next one is already in the works. Maybe it's time your city had its own homecoming? Email me via: Coletta (at)

  • Knight Cities podcast: Jeff Risom of Gehl Architects on improving the quality of public life (episode 11)

    22/10/2014 Duration: 18min

    Public life is making a comeback in U.S. cities after more than 50 years of decline, inspired, in large part, by the work of Gehl Architects in Copenhagen. Helping cities accelerate that movement and get the details of public space right is a special talent of Jeff Risom. He is partner and managing director of Gehl Studio, the U.S. subsidiary of Gehl Architects, where he oversees design, planning and research projects throughout the Americas. Gehl has worked with cities worldwide to use public space to shape public life. Email me via: Coletta (at)

  • Knight Cities podcast: Talking livability and sustainability with Vin Cipolla (episode 10)

    15/10/2014 Duration: 16min

    Not many nonprofits have been around more than 100 years, especially ones dedicated to creating a more livable city. But the Municipal Art Society of New York ( – or MAS NYC as it is now known - has defied the odds and continues to thrive in a fast-changing city. With a storied history of championing the first municipal zoning code in the United States and saving Times Square and Grand Central Terminal, today the organization leads a broad agenda promoting the city’s economic vitality, cultural vibrancy, environmental sustainability and social diversity. This week on “Knight Cities,” our guest is Vin Cipolla, president of MAS NYC. Email me via: Coletta (at)

  • Knight Cities podcast: Phil Cooley shares insights from Detroit's comeback (episode 9)

    08/10/2014 Duration: 24min

    Phil Cooley is one of Detroit's most enthusiastic champions. Phil, the owner of Slows Bar-B-Q and developer of Ponyride, an incubator for social innovators, was an early investor in the revitalization of the city. He has been an insider to Detroit’s do-it-yourself comeback and has lessons to share for urbanists everywhere who are working to jump-start their own grassroots version of revitalization in their cities. Email me via: Coletta (at)

  • Knight Cities podcast: Neil G. Ruiz on tapping the talent pool of foreign students (episode 8)

    01/10/2014 Duration: 13min

    One of the most important sources of talent for U.S. cities is foreign students enrolled in our universities. That's why Neil Ruiz is taking a closer look at where they come from and the impact they are having. Neil is a senior policy analyst and associate fellow at The Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program. His research focuses on regional and state economic development, innovation, international migration, high-skilled immigration, as well as global economic issues. Find out how your city can increase its talent by tapping foreign students on this week's 'Knight Cities,' when I talk to Neil Ruiz. You can follow us on Twitter at #knightcities or @knightfdn. And if you have ideas for people you'd like to hear more from, please email me: Coletta (at)

  • Knight Cities podcast: Cathy Ho on how the pop-up movement is changing communities (episode 7)

    24/09/2014 Duration: 21min

    It seems that every city has its own version of pop-up parks, parklets, better blocks and other temporary design interventions intended to add life and fun to city streets. Cathy Ho curated a celebration of these clever urban actions in a major exhibition, 'Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good.' It first appeared as the official U.S. presentation at the 13th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 2012, and it continues to tour the U.S., first in Chicago and most recently in New York. This week we talk to Cathy Ho on 'Knight Cities' about how the pop-up movement started, what is fueling its growth and how it is changing cities. You can follow us on Twitter at #knightcities or @knightfdn. And if you have ideas for people you'd like to hear more from, please email me: Coletta (at)

  • Knight Cities podcast: Plain talk with economist Joe Cortright on the success of cities (episode 6)

    17/09/2014 Duration: 17min

    Economist Joe Cortright has been a trusted guide for urban leaders for many years. For more than a decade, he has dissected the movement of young talent through America's big cities. He calcuated the Talent Dividend and the Green Dividend for cities. He developed a way to measure changes in vibrancy associated with creative placemaking and unpacked what's really happening in the poorest neighborhoods. He is one of the world’s experts on clusters and effectively presses the case on the value of difference to cities. This week, he strongly challenged a New York Times Magazine piece on Portland that claims the city suffers from too much talent. Those are among the many reasons I am excited to talk with Joe this week on 'Knight Cities.' He is an easy-to-understand economist who uses plain talk to discuss what’s important to the success of cities. You can follow us on Twitter at #knightcities or @knightfdn. And if you have ideas for people you'd like to hear more from, please email me: Coletta (at) knightfoundatio

  • Knight Cities podcast: Arts leader Deborah Cullinan leads community change (episode 5)

    10/09/2014 Duration: 21min

    Can a major art institution lead a city in the exploration of its most urgent economic and community development questions? If you talk to Deborah Cullinan, executive director of San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the answer you get is a resounding "yes." Deborah is using the contemporary arts center she leads to shape San Francisco's future. And it's not the first time Deborah has used her role as arts leader to change a community. She previously served as executive director of Intersection for the Arts, an arts-focused community development organization committed to radical partnership across sectors to achieve equitable community change. Intersection played a lead role on the 5M Project, a four-acre prototype for the next generation of urban development, in downtown San Francisco's Tenderloin District. Listen to my conversation with Deborah Cullinan.

  • Knight Cities: Innovator Bryan Boyer on the future of work (episode 4)

    03/09/2014 Duration: 23min

    The work we do, where we do it, who we do it for, how much of our time we spend on it, and why we work are all in flux. To understand where all of this is going, this week "Knight Cities" talks with Bryan Boyer, principal at Dash Marshall; a partner at Makeshift Society; and a member of the board of directors at Public Policy Lab. Bryan is both thinking and acting on the growth of the independent economy and what it means to America. His three-part meditation on the questions this new economy is raising appeared on Medium earlier this year while he was guiding Knight Foundation’s thinking on how to harness more talent in Knight cities. And he calls the startup of Makeshift Society in Brooklyn his exploration of what the 21st century chamber of commerce for the design community might look like.

  • Knight Cities podcast: A conversation with San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed on attracting and retaining talent (episode 3)

    27/08/2014 Duration: 16min

    As mayor of San Jose, Chuck Reed has confronted some of the thorniest issues facing cities: the need to renegotiate employee pensions, the tensions between wanting good urban planning and accommodating new corporate headquarters, the drying up of state funds, the need for cities such as San Jose to build strong brands. In this week’s 'Knight Cities,' Mayor Reed talks frankly about these and other challenges, along with one of the innovative ways he is tapping new talent for City Hall. He also gives voters advice on what to look for in a candidate running for mayor.

  • Knight Cities podcast: A conversation with Gil Penalosa on building better communities (episode 2)

    20/08/2014 Duration: 20min

    Copenhagen regularly tops the list of the world’s best cities. It is celebrated for its culture of conviviality, elevated by the large number of people walking, biking and lingering in the city’s streets and public spaces.

  • Knight Cities podcast: Civic innovators share ideas on shaping communities, with Theaster Gates (episode 1)

    13/08/2014 Duration: 26min

    This week, we launch “Knight Cities,” a new weekly podcast that focuses on the people and ideas shaping our cities. Theaster Gates – Chicago-based visual artist, actor, singer, restaurateur, activist, academician and all-around urban transformer – is our first guest.

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