Long Beach Awarded $300,000 For “The Outdoor Office” in Knight Cities Challenge

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Tuesday, the City of Long Beach announced it has been named a winner of the Knight Cities Challenge. The winning project, “The Outdoor Office,” will transform a portion of Harvey Milk Park. By connecting the space to high powered Wi-Fi, providing charging stations, shade, creative and flexible seating, The Outdoor Office will provide workers and residents with a relaxing and refreshing workspace.

The project is one of 37 winners of the Knight Cities Challenge, an initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which seeks ideas to make cities more successful.

“Civic innovation requires leaders, partners, and funders willing to take a chance on a new idea,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. ”I am grateful to Knight Foundation for their support of this novel concept. We anticipate more investments like this as Long Beach continues to embrace technology and innovation.”

The City has been awarded $300,000 to bring The Outdoor Office from concept to completion. Immediate next steps include finalizing the grant award and presenting the grant agreement to the Long Beach City Council for approval, outreach to stakeholders, and completing the design.

“The Outdoor Office will be a one-of-a-kind park that takes advantage of our amazing Long Beach weather,” said Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal. “The Outdoor Office will serve as a crossing and meeting point for creatives from nearby offices, light rail and bus passengers, shopping center patrons, students, and others who live, work, and play Downtown.”

Through design and programming, The Outdoor Office will encourage creativity, collaboration, and productivity. Another benefit will be to lower start-up costs for entrepreneurs and small businesses looking to work Downtown.

“I can already imagine the activation and life The Outdoor Office will bring to Harvey Milk Park,” said Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez. “I envision small groups gathering together and capturing ideas on an outdoor chalkboard, teens and adults alike charging devices in the shade, and workers tucked into comfy chairs responding to emails on their tablets.”

The winning concept developed through collaboration and conversation among the City and local partners. The City’s i-team had already identified the need for affordable workspace as a challenge facing entrepreneurs in the downtown. So when the Long Beach Community Foundation convened a meeting of stakeholders interested in submitting ideas to the Knight Cities Challenge, the i-team’s challenge met a provocative solution from Commune Communication. The Outdoor Office idea evolved from there and the project team expanded to include additional City Departments and local stakeholders. The collaboration enabled the City to put forward a competitive application on behalf of the team. Information about additional collaboration, and more ways people can get involved, will be provided as the project unfolds.

“In addition to improving neighborhood life, the project anticipates a meeting of talented people and ideas — encouraging diverse residents to come together in a public space and opening the potential for new collaborations and connection,” said Lilly Weinberg, Knight Foundation Director for Community Foundations.

Knight Foundation awarded a total of $5 million to 37 projects in 26 cities across the United States. This includes another Long Beach winner, City Fabrick, which has been awarded funds to develop “Placemake the Vote.” In collaboration with Long Beach City Clerk Maria de la Luz Garcia, City Fabrick will develop a kit for creating temporary pop-up social spaces near voting polls in historically low voter turnout areas to encourage people to vote.

Open to any individual, business, government or nonprofit, the Knight Cities Challenge has just two rules: (1) A submission may come from anywhere, but the project must take place in or benefit one or more of the 26 communities where Knight invests and (2) the idea should focus on one or more of three drivers of city success: Talent: Ideas that help cities attract and keep talented people; Opportunity: Ideas that create economic prospects by breaking down divides and making new connections; Engagement: Ideas that spur connection and civic involvement.

For more information on the City of Long Beach, visit www.longbeach.gov.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.

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