Federal Grants Hard to Manage in Distressed Cities?

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

The awarding of federal grants is a difficult solution for financially distressed cities like Flint, Michigan.

According to a recent report from the General Accounting Office, the very characteristics qualifying a city such as Flint as being in “serious financial crisis” — such as Chapter 9 bankruptcy and employment decline — likewise hinder its ability to maintain the federal grants designed to help.

“Cities facing serious financial crisis or in Chapter 9 bankruptcy provide a special challenge to the federal government and its grant-making agencies,” the report notes. “On one hand, the losses of human capital, financial, and organizational capacity that can accompany such serious financial distress present municipalities with significant challenges to their ability to effectively obtain and manage federal grants.”

The General Accounting Office was asked to generate the 42-page March report by Congressman John Conyers and Senator Gary Peters with the objectives of identifying municipalities such as Flint, reviewing the federal monitoring process of these places, and using the White House Working Group’s efforts regarding Detroit as a model for assessing other distressed municipalities.

Of the four cities studied in the report — Detroit, Flint, Camden and Stockton — Flint saw the most drastic workforce reduction between 2009 and 2013 at a 44 percent reduction, impacting the amount of city staff that could help manage and oversee federal grants.

“Flint officials … told us that losing staff with critical grant management knowledge contributed to compliance problems,” the report notes. “According to staff from HUD’s Office of the Inspector General, staff turnover in Flint contributed to grant management knowledge gaps and subsequent audit findings.”

The solution to what the report calls “gaps in institutional knowledge” would be to put a “mechanism in place for staff to pass down knowledge to their successors,” though Flint Mayor Dayne Walling thinks the report missed the full picture of the situation there.

“I think the report missed how much the city of Flint has been able to acquire grants because of the master plan and new partnerships that have been put in place,” Walling told MLive.

 

Creative Collaboratives: Improvising Ecosystems, Heritage Studies, and the Internet of Things

By nature, design brings disciplines together. Whether transforming boring vegetables into appetizing snacks, creating culturally appropriate activewear for girls in our community, or designing classrooms for students with special needs, design students and faculty are breaking down institutional boundaries to tackle complex issues. This spring, three of our faculty members received grants from the University's Institute for Advanced Study to collaborate with faculty from across the University. 

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Improvising Ecosystems

After visiting ecological research sites with scientists, Matthew Tucker (Landscape Architecture), Maja Radovanlija (Music), Diane Willow (Art), and Scott Currie (Music) are developing new ways to know the ecosystems through sensory experience, intuition, and disciplinary knowledge. Over the next year, they'll expand the project to feral and transitional -- or improvisational -- green spaces in the Twin City Metro. They'll build upon existing collaborations with local musicians and artists to explore contemporary concepts of nature and ecosystems through improvisation practices and public presentations.

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Physical Computing and the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) describes the network and data that emerge when we add physical computing components -- like sensors, actuators, and network adapters -- to everyday objects, providing levels of analytics and automation previously reserved for digital domains. Lucy Dunne (Apparel Design) and Barry Kudrowitz (Product Design) are teaming up with Lana Yarosh and Loren Terveen (both Computer Science and Engineering) to help students develop the engineering and design skills to lead Internet of Things research and development. They'll host weekly hack sessions to introduce new physical computing skills and monthly seminars to foster community and connect students with IoT experts.

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Heritage Studies

Gregory Donofrio (Architecture), Katherine Hayes (Anthropology), and Kevin Murphy (History) have formed a Teaching Heritage Collaborative. They aim to develop curriculum supporting interdisciplinary approaches to heritage education, partner with external heritage organizations to create opportunities for community-engaged research, and contribute to heritage pedagogy. Over the coming year, they'll use the IAS grant to develop a new masters-level graduate program in Heritage Studies and Public History and continue ongoing projects with the Minnesota Historical Society -- including a student-researched and designed exhibition about Bohemian Flats, to be displayed at Mill City Museum from April to October, 2015.


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This week, readers loved Villa Criss-Cross, a minimal abode in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana renovated by architect Rok Oman. Despite the raw, industrial material palette, the space allows in plenty of light, making it a comfortable abode.

 

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Ceramic Artist Francesca DiMattio Explores the Beauty in Domesticity

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Francesca DiMattio, Chandelabra II, 2015, glaze and luster on porcelain and stoneware, epoxy, steel frame.

Image courtesy of Courtesy of Salon 94 and the artist.

At New York gallery Salon 94, two new shows explore the area where art meets design. Domestic Sculpture, which runs through May 7, 2015, at 243 Bowery, features new works by sculptor Francesca DiMattio that reference the history of ceramics in elaborate, collage-like sculptures. Pulling from an encyclopedic range of decorative art influences, from French Sèvres porcelain and Wedgwood figurines to Turkish tiles, DiMattio forces history to collide with tissue-box prints and other modern kitch. Familiar forms come into focus in her complicated compositions, as bits of vases, mugs, chandeliers, and chair legs reveal themselves.  

Meanwhile, at the gallery's Freeman Alley location, artist Anton Alvarez has set up an unorthodox furniture studio, where he will be using a machine of his own design dubbed the Thread-Wrapping Machine to create custom pieces on site. Stay tuned for more on that show as Alvarez's exhibition develops. 

 

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The Retailers of American-Made Design: Makers Market

Ceramic Pebble Salt and Pepper Shakers by Pigeon Toe Ceramics at Makers Market

What is the average run size of the products you sell?  

Most of our makers are individuals, with the largest having four to six employees. We focus on helping emerging businesses to grow, ultimately providing the support services they need—social marketing, branding, photography, accounting, legal—so they can focus on design and production. Probably a fourth of the products we carry are one-of-a-kind pieces that can’t be found anywhere else. Pepple Salt & Pepper Shakers, $58.

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world design capital taipei brings new crafts to design days dubai 2015


in celebration of the taipei's emerging creative influence, taiwan designers' web curates 'new crafts - taiwan contemporary craft transformation' in the united arab emirates for design days dubai 2015.

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The Retailers of American-Made Design: WorkOf

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What is the average run size of the products you sell?  

Our focus is on smaller designers and manufacturers. We started WorkOf so independent creators could have a better platform to sell their work. Most of the pieces they produce are smaller runs, but almost everyone we work with has the capacity to do larger runs. Our projects can range from an interior designer or private buyer furnishing a city apartment, to a larger hotel or condo development. Our vendors can scale accordingly. Captain's Chair by Evan Z. Crane, $1,600.

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۳ Truly Inspiring Homes by Habitat for Humanity

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