People First Project Winners


We're so grateful to the Knight Foundation for funding our Knight Cities Challenge -- The People First Project, creating a network of tactical urbanists who collectively select a single urban challenge each year on which to focus quick, low-cost, creative improvements. Out of 75 applications, 12 winners receive a $5,000 mini-grant to design and implement a transformative project that utilizes the principles of human-centered design to transform Michigan Avenue into a more complete street. Additionally, selected project leaders will participate in a learning community that consists of global leaders in the tactical urbanism movement, participate in a documentary about the project, and be the focal point of the fourth issue of Grand Circus Magazine.

Check out our 12 winners below:

Mikayla Cutlip
Project: Historical building street murals and pop-up programming

"In the late 1930s, buildings on the south side of Michigan Ave were demolished to expand the road. I propose taking a step back in history by recreating a portion of the floorpans of these original buildings."

Caroline Kane
Project: Activating empty lots through temporary community spaces

"I would like to convert under-utilized public spaces into pop-up living rooms where individuals can come socialize, explore, and interact with the Corktown community without the necessity of monetary interactions. I've noticed one of the major problems with Michigan Ave is its lack of intimacy. The street is extremely wide and sometimes busy, leading one to believe it is for cars--not people; there are no patios or community spaces, and many empty lots between large buildings. These spaces could be filled to compensate for the vastness of the street itself. By placing pop-ups in these empty lots, pedestrians can feel free to wander Michigan avenue, as the street itself becomes its own destination."

Kenneth Andejeski
Project [in partnership with Caroline Kane]: Community storytelling through urban campfires

"Community Campfires will be a series of intimate evening storytelling experiences, focusing on the love of cities and communities, that pops-up on vacant lots along the Michigan Avenue Corridor. ..Imagine a future where patrons can walk from Katoi to PJ’s Lager House with ongoing campfires to light and warm their way."

Donna Jackson
Project: Doors used as canvases for local artists

"Door of Opportunity are doors transformed into art by local artists. These doors tell the stories of artists and their lives in Detroit. On Michigan Avenue, the door project can bring a visual component to the street and the neighborhood. Each door will have a QR code providing content about the artists, Corktown and/or historical Michigan Ave." 

Steve Coy
Project: Interactive street art

"We are proposing three art projects: 1) Interactive Street Art, 2) Radio Active Sculptures, and 3) Mirror Diamond Sculptures. Too often people see vacant space and think that housing or businesses are the only solutions. It is our hope that unique and unprecedented art can help others envision what future spaces, more specifically streetscapes, in this instance, can be and how they can be used beyond driving and parking."  

Antoine Sleep McDowell
Project: Life size stencil cut outs of children playing in vacant lot/public park

"Seeing kids playing and enjoy themselves in the installation will hopefully spark parents to start bringing their kids to parks and local spots to get them to enjoy the city again."

Erin Gavle
Project: Creative light installations

"I’d like to continue to add art, light, and a sense of community to the block by incorporating art installations that encourage interaction and provide safety to pedestrians.  A little bit of surprise and delight. Something to make you stop, interact, smile, remember. A little bit of magic on an important street in the middle of transitional block. Something to say nice things about. Something to make you feel a little silly and childlike. When we spark these emotions and passions within someone, we start to inspire."

NO LINE: Salam Rida & Samantha Okolita
Project: Modular urban seating

"The piece is called Samla, which in Swedish means “to gather”. The design is based off of a geometric pattern that is then curated to be modular and adaptable to any situation in which it is designed to be placed in. The urban furniture comes together like tetris into a singular block that is easily stored."

Kerry Conway
Project: Woven canopy bike lane protector


"My project would create a woven canopy over the public space bordering the bike lane, delineating a visible barrier between the automobile and pedestrian street. This project would carve out a public space for dwelling, where Michigan Avenue pedestrians can participate in a vibrant urban street rather than be pushed to its margins. It is important to create a public space within the street section, not just additional seating for patrons of businesses in the area. The sight of people gathering, chairs, tables, lights, and plants will emphasize the importance of people, community, and life in our city, and not just individuals in automobiles."

Lisa Waud
Project: Flower and vine structure for rest and relaxation

"For this project I propose to create a permanent structure for perennial and annual flowering vines to grow on, flower on. This project would further the mission to increase pedestrian safety and enjoyment of the street by creating a green space that's practical and beautiful."

Greg Mangan
Project: Dumpster converted into a mobile garden and seating space

"The concept would entail using a dumpster converted into a mobile garden with bench seating built within one side of it. The dumpster would have small trees, plants and flowers within the garden protruding from the top of it. The bench seating on the parkmobile would allow people to sit down and enjoy a coffee, or sit while waiting for a table at a restaurant, or to simply sit and enjoy a conversation with another human being."

Daisuke Hughes
Project: "Living" wall in between parking lot and sidewalk 

"My project would tackle urban street-wall inefficiencies experienced on the south side of Michigan Avenue between 11th and Rosa Parks. My suggestion is to build a narrow retaining wall and/or linear planter box that hugs the sidewalk along that barren stretch of the avenue...We have so many missing teeth in the street wall of the avenue that a simple move like this may bring greater attention to the effectiveness of prioritizing the human experience. "

Emily Baughman
Project: Interactive light and sound crosswalks

"My project is to address pedestrian safety along Michigan Avenue. To address after-dark pedestrian safety problems, I will install tunnels of motion sensor lights along stretches of Michigan Avenue that pedestrians feel less safe walking at night. To address problems of jaywalking, at pedestrian crossings, I will install a music installation timed to the crosswalk “stop” indications. The Supreme’s “Stop in the Name of Love” will be set to play when the crosswalk “stop” indication is displayed."