For the last three years we’ve interviewed and talked to thirty different individuals and organizations re-tooling and evolving the idea of social innovation for the Urban Innovation Exchange. The effort, underwritten by the Knight Foundation and supported by a host of Detroit-based foundations and organizations along with ourselves, cumulatively looks at hundreds of efforts across the city and their affect on the trajectory of Detroit. What does the value of a community garden have on a neighborhood? What about the guy with a “gang” of friends that mow vacant parks in Detroit? And we’ve all heard of Detroit SOUP, what’s the cumulative impact of the money they’ve injected in to community level projects? Muralists, incubators, community spaces, street artists, neighborhood philosophers, blight busters– what does it all amount to?

For our part, we created thirty different videos interviewing and examining the work of but a handful of the thoughtful and innovative projects in the city. The idea was to try and understand in greater detail what social innovation actually amounted to. Where it’s easy to value, say, a new hotel downtown, given that it generates a certain amount of tax base income which affects citizens, how do we value those that don’t create traditional capital? It’s still kind of a perplexing question that’s tricky to answer, but certainly enough, the cumulative effect of all these efforts create a recipe for thinking about how next-generation cities grow. The thirty videos we created along with the stories and portraits all across the UIX site provide a springboard for thinking differently about how we evolve as citizens and communities. We were very proud to be a part of this three year effort and have put together a retrospective film to understand a small piece of all the work to date.

See the video on Vimeo.

See the rest of the videos in the series here.