Scout does Detroit!

Last Wednesday, Scout was honored and excited to have the opportunity to join the 31 other winners of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s first-ever Knight Cities Challenge in Detroit for a multi-day summit featuring a variety of talks, workshops, and walking tours. With America’s Motor City serving as an illustrious backdrop, the Knight Cities Challenge Winners Summit brought together a host of inspiring and civic-minded thinkers, artists, activists, and innovators from around the country.

We had the chance to learn from people like Theaster Gates, a Chicago-based artist and social activist whose work reimagines the ways in which we inhabit space and reshape our cities (his TED Talk, “How to revive a neighborhood: with imagination, beauty and art” is worth a listen); Robert Hammond, who took a crazy idea about a forgotten piece of infrastructure and turned it into one of the most transformative public works in recent years; Joe Cortright, an economist at City Observatory, who presented powerful research on urban trends and the intersection of poverty, education, and social behavior in the civic commons; and many more.

In between these sessions, we did our best to explore and eat our way through Detroit, a city undergoing a creative boom and impressive rebirth. We got to peek into the workings of the Shinola Factory, check out the incredible Diego Rivera Industry Murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts, wander around some truly stunning early 20th-century architectural gems, taste some of the delicious offerings at Gold Cash Gold and Slows Bar B Q, and experience the exciting collaborative spirit at Ponyride, a converted warehouse offering workspace and studios for socially-conscious artists and entrepreneurs (an amazing model for our own mission at Bok!) Oh, and we went bowling with the unparalleled Carol Coletta, bowler extraordinaire and presider of affairs at the summit.

We’ve come back to Philly with several takeaways that we are continuing to unpack, and we can’t wait to apply some of what we’ve learned to the project ahead of us! Many, many thanks to Carol Coletta, George Abbott, and everyone at the Knight Foundation for hosting a wonderful trip; to Karla Henderson for graciously showing us the space at Ponyride; to all the other Cities Challenge winners for their inspiring projects and great company. And be sure to check out #scoutdoesdetroit and #knightcities on Twitter and Instagram if you want to see more of our Detroit adventures!

BOK | 1901 S. 9th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19148
landing page image by Sam Oberter. room photo by Billy Cress. all other photos by Scout