I N S P I R AT I O N
F O R
C OM M ON
VOLUME 5 - ISSUE 3 - FALL 2013
CHASING OUT GHOSTS
MOVERS AND SHAPERS
How do you reinvigorate a downtown?
Spaces that bring people together in Kansas
Anyone can lead, anytime, anywhere
The Journal (Print edition: ISSN 2328-4366; Online edition: ISSN 2328-4374) is published quarterly by the Kansas Leadership Center, which receives core funding from the Kansas Health Foundation. The Kansas Leadership Center equips people with the ability to make lasting change for the common good. KLC is different in the field of leadership development with its focus on leadership being an activity, not a role or position. Open to anyone seeking to move the needle on tough challenges in the civic arena, KLC envisions more Kansans sharing responsibility for acting together in pursuit of the common good. KLC MISSION To foster civic leadership for healthier Kansas communities KLC VISION To be the center of excellence for civic leadership development KANSAS LEADERSHIP CENTER BOARD OF DIRECTORS Karen Humphreys, Wichita (Chair) Ed O’Malley, Wichita (President & CEO)
Susan Kang, Lawrence Carolyn Kennett, Parsons David Lindstrom, Overland Park Greg Musil, Overland Park Reggie Robinson, Topeka Consuelo Sandoval, Garden City Clayton Tatro, Fort Scott Frank York, Ashland WEB EDITION
Abstracting is permitted with credit to the source. For other reprint, copying, reproduction permission or subscriptions, contact Mike Matson at email@example.com. KANSAS LEADERSHIP CENTER
325 East Douglas Avenue Wichita, Kansas 67202 316.712.4950 www.kansasleadershipcenter.org PHOTOGRAPHY
Jeff Tuttle Photography 220 N. Terrace Wichita, KS 67208 316.706.8529 jefftuttlephotography.com ARTWORK (opposite, page 77, inside back cover)
Kristin Goering www.kristingoering.com MANAGING EDITOR
Chris Green 316.712.4945 firstname.lastname@example.org GRAPHIC DESIGN
Novella Brandhouse 816.868.9825 www.novellabrandhouse.com ©2013 Kansas Leadership Center
Prairie-land is golden, Airy, wide; The sky our only mountain; We inside. – From “Sky-Mountain” by May Williams Ward, Kansas poet (1882-1975)
I N S P I R A T I O N
F O R
T H E
C O M M O N G
G O O D
Welcome to the Journal By President & CEO Ed O’Malley . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Letters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Dispatches from the Kansas Leadership Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Leadership Library . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Voices of Civic Leadership . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Redefining Civic Leadership By Chris Green . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Movers and Shapers By Dawn Bormann Novascone, Erin Perry O’Donnell & Sarah Caldwell Hancock . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Needing our Civic Space by Patsy Terrell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Beyond Rivalry By Laura Roddy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Chasing out the Ghosts By Brian Whepley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 Symphony in the Flint Hills Photo essay by Jeff Tuttle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 Featured Artist: October Skies By Kristin Goering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76 Poem: Walking a Dirt Road By William Sheldon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78 The Back Page By Mike Matson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
‘CRAZY BUSY’ VS. LEADERSHIP REALIZING LIMITS CAN POINT THE WAY FORWARD
My college friend Tom Roesler (blogger, K-State staffer and entrepreneur) has been on a crusade to help people slow down and get a grip on the “crazy busy” life so many of us lead. Too many of us are devoted to accomplishing things, stuck in a hamster wheel, running faster and faster, only to stay in place. We are rewarded for running faster while keeping every ball in the air, all the plates spinning.
have the talent. He is stuck working IN the business rather than ON the business. He is on the far-edge of the crazy-busy side of the continuum. He can’t see the forest for the trees. He can’t take in enough oxygen to think clearly and realize the real leadership challenge facing him is building the capacity of his team. Another friend, “Susan,” works in a large, bureaucratic organization. She worked her way up to lofty positions within the administration, rewarded along the way for keeping all the trains running on time. Now, she is busy “being an administrator,” she’s unable take a breath and think, and therefore less effective at mobilizing others.
There is plenty written about work/life balance in the self-help and therapy books. But what about the crazy-busy/leadership balance? Exercising leadership requires more time to engage others, reflect, plan and experiment. How will we do that if we are crazy busy?
As a result of being crazy busy, their ability to exercise leadership is suffering. In addition, their physical health is suffering. It’s harder to judge, but I wonder about their spiritual, emotional, relational health too.
A few true stories: A friend of mine, we’ll call him Fred, is the owner of a modestly successful small business. He is totally swamped delivering products and services to clients, because others in the organization honestly don’t
I crafted and stuck with a schedule that values my spiritual, physical, emotional and relational health. I’m finding myself much more effective in my work and leadership efforts. By taking better care of myself I stand a better chance of making more progress on the things that matter most – at work, in the community and at home. In short, I stand a better chance at exercising leadership.
All of this takes us into the KLC Competency Manage Self and the charge to “take care of yourself.” We cannot exercise leadership consistently – and our daunting, adaptive challenges require us to stay the course – without taking care of ourselves. Furthermore, to be the best version of ourselves, we must tend to our spiritual, social and physical needs.
It’s as simple as this: we have no hope of mobilizing others to take on deep, daunting challenges if we can’t mobilize ourselves. By taking care of ourselves, we give ourselves a chance to lead.
Despite teaching these ideas regularly, it’s as hard for me to follow them as the next person. I realized I was trending towards crazy busy recently. Realizing my limits helped point a way forward. I began saying “no” to things when I normally would have said “yes.” For example, I’ve turned down some speaking opportunities. They feed my ego, so saying “no” was harder than I expected. I’ve declined to meet with some people. I used to meet with just about anyone who wanted time, I’m more selective now and learning to live with disappointing others.
Ed O’Malley President & CEO Kansas Leadership Center
STORIES POINT TO A SINGLE, DIVERSE KANSAS COMMUNITY I received an issue of The Journal for the first time in July (Volume 5, Issue 2) and was struck by the number of personal connections I had to the stories — some of which aren’t even related to my work at the Kansas Health Institute. Mine may be a somewhat unique perspective from having lived in several places across the state (including Reno, Harvey and Shawnee counties) as well as doing work related to and traveling to many other parts of the state. Nonetheless, being able to connect to stories from across the state gave me a sense of Kansas as almost a single, albeit somewhat diverse, community.
The Journal gladly welcomes letters to the editor, including responses to articles in the publication. Please address comments to email@example.com. Or mail letters to the Kansas Leadership Center at 325 East Douglas Avenue, Wichita, KS 67202. We encourage readers to keep submissions to fewer than 500 words.
This is particularly interesting to me since I just recently read an essay an intern here sent around titled “Regional Image and Sense of Place in Kansas” by University of Kansas geography professor James R. Shortridge, which gives descriptions of regional differences across the state. Thank you for including rural, urban and suburban as well as Northeast, Southeast, South Central and Western Kansas stories in The Journal. IVAN WILLIAMS TOPEKA
FOCUSING ON LEARNING INSTEAD OF LABELS In the Summer Issue of The Journal, there was an article concerning civic leadership failure. The article encouraged us to embrace failure as part of leadership, so we take more leadership risks, with the ultimate goal of making a more significant impact on issues facing our community. While agreeing with goal, I would like to offer a different interpretation, or my perspective, on failure and civic challenges. Failure and success, in my opinion, are not important concepts in working on adaptive challenges in our communities. I actually believe it is harmful to our efforts, on adaptive challenges, to view our adaptive work in such a strictly binary and judgmental fashion. For example, I work daily on increasing equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. This is an example of a difficult adaptive challenge. My adaptive work on this challenge includes: living openly as a gay man, building relationships, and educating and training people; however, I never think of my work as a success or failure. These tasks are too complex. And at the end of the day, judging would be a waste of valuable time. With that stated, I do believe that technical challenges and work can be and should be measured (not labeled). We gain important
feedback and insight to work. My technical work for the adaptive challenge above includes passing (or stopping) ordinances and legislation and electing supportive officials. The measurements of these tasks can provide very helpful insights into my adaptive challenge, such as the state of public opinion (or at least our elected representatives). Nevertheless, viewing technical tasks as a failure or success can be misleading. For instance, when I “failed” to pass an ordinance the first time, a conversation started in the community that eventually led to the “success” of that ordinance. However, I am still not “successful” at ending discrimination against LGBT people, so is that a “failure?” For me, it is not about labeling my technical work; it is about measuring, learning and moving forward. Failure and success, in my opinion, are subjective judgments and labels that come from others, which we must all deal with and cope with as we take leadership on adaptive challenges. Personally, I take critical feedback where I can and where appropriate, adjust my behavior and continue my aim at accomplishing my goals. I abandoned the idea of judging and labeling my work a long time ago. It is very freeing and helpful. I hope my perspective on failure increases the depth of conversation.
SCOTT CRIQUI LAWRENCE
DISPATCHES FROM THE KANSAS LEADERSHIP CENTER
GATHERING SPOT FOR THE COMMON GOOD.
The inspiring, challenging work of Kansans striving to better their communities and their state can be seen through the windows of the Kansas Leadership Center & Kansas Health Foundation Conference Center, which opened to KLC program participants this past summer. The 36,000 square-foot building, also KLCâ€™s headquarters, will host hundreds of Kansas each year striving to gain knowledge and build their networks as they seek make progress on civic leadership challenges and advance the common good. The building features a 200-seat amphitheater-style Konza Town Hall, classroom space and informal gathering space designed to foster interaction.
CREATE POWERFUL LEARNING.
Teaching leadership by using real-life interactions in a classroom as examples can be a powerful way of helping participants learn lessons that carry over into the outside world. Doing it effectively requires considerable skill, discipline and practice. KLC will offer a “Creating Powerful Learning” training for those with previous exposure to the rigorous Case-in-Point teaching methodology Nov. 6-7 in Wichita. The workshop is designed for individuals who work to build leadership capacity in others or who have a passion and aptitude for doing so. For more information, please visit kansasleadershipcenter.org.
LEVERAGE AND CONNECTION.
Team members working through the Visioneering Health Alliance Leadership Initiative learned how to better leverage one another as resources and to stay connected during a reconvening at KLC in August. Participants met for three days as they continued their work at turning the tide on five health priorities in the Wichita metropolitan area, which includes Sedgwick, Butler, Sumner and Harvey counties. Working with a leadership coach, teams identify, plan and implement a strategy to make progress on challenges identified through a formal listening process – access, health disparities, mental health, obesity and diabetes, and oral health. A second group of participants from a variety of sectors will begin immersive leadership training in October and continue to develop their teams at another session in April. The trainings will help team members develop the skills needed to foster action on the issues they wish to impact.
FOR THE COMMON GOOD ... OF YOUR BUSINESS.
With confidence in the belief that leadership is an activity and anyone can exercise it, the Kansas Leadership Center is expanding its learning to the business sector.
For the Common Good of Your Business is for those who seek to invest in leadership development to make progress on the purposes that matter most. It is designed to encourage behavioral change and build collaboration in a for-profit, bottom line-driven environment. Through tools, workshops and peer-to-peer interaction, For the Common Good of Your Business will offer a language of effective leadership as well as proven methods to help learn it and support the practice of it. For the Common Good of Your Business will allow investment in growth by helping cultivate a culture that fosters greater creativity, innovation and profitability. For the Common Good of Your Business will energize for-profit businesses through more engaged employees and satisfied customers to yield a stronger bottom line. For additional information, please contact Matt Jordan, firstname.lastname@example.org, (316) 712-4952 or Blessy Abraham, email@example.com, (316) 261-1579.
LEADERSHIP FOR A HIGHER PRINCIPLE.
Thirty individuals from churches and organizations across Kansas City, Kansas, completed KLC’s Leadership & Faith Transforming Communities program in September, joining a network of more than 300 faith program alumni. During the eighth-month experience, teams learned KLC’s leadership framework. They also thought about how their church could engage more with the larger community and began working to address an issue or need there, such as “sustainable community development” or “increasing overall physical health through nutritional eating.” Another cohort of five multi-faith teams began their KLC experience in August. Applications are being accepted for a program that begins in March and ends in September 2014. Please visit kansasleadershipcenter.org for more information.
THE LEADERSHIP LIBRARY Many of the best books to learn about leadership from often don’t have the word “leadership” in their titles. They might not even be overtly about the subject. Exploring how to tell better stories, seeing the benefits of singing in a group and learning from what’s going on in different communities or a business can help us broaden our ability to lead for the common good.
Imperfect Harmony: Finding Happiness Singing With Others
By Stacy Horn Oftentimes, when music is used as a metaphor for leadership, some clichéd example, like various voices coming together to create one sound, gets used to illustrate teamwork. But imagine the impact digging deeper into the music can have on Energizing Others or one’s ability to Manage Self. Horn allows the reader to explore a different dimension of music from the voice of an amateur vocalist learning what it truly means to take care of herself and exploring the many points-of-view that exist both internally and around her. Not a typical book for leadership development, Imperfect Harmony creates space for individual application and interpretation of the KLC principles and competencies while taking a personal look at Horn’s journey with the Choral Society of Grace Church in New York.
The Story Factor: Inspiration, Influence and Persuasion Through the Art of Storytelling
By Annette Simmons People tend to be overloaded with information; if really you want to have influence, what they need to hear is an authentic, meaningful story. Yet storytelling remains an underappreciated and underutilized art in leadership. To some, telling a story can feel awkward, fluffy or even manipulative. Simmons provides a great set of guidelines – there are no hard and fast rules to live by – for living the life of a great storyteller. By embracing ambiguity and tapping into shared human experience, we can influence others, speaking from the heart, through the gravitational pull of narrative rather than simply pushing our own agendas.
The Metropolitan Revolution: How Cities and Metros are Fixing our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy
THE METROPOLITAN REVOLUTION How Cities and Metros Are Fixing Our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy
BRUCE KATZ AND JENNIFER BRADLEY
By Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley Considering that it’s plagued by gridlock and partisan squabbles, the federal government seems an unlikely place to look toward for reinvigorating our nation and its economy. These days, the best chances for innovation seem to lie at the local level, namely cities and regions working creatively to foster change and progress. Katz and Bradley highlight some good examples of community partnerships and collaborations in the book, ranging from New York City to Portland, Ore., and Houston. While many of them are driven by the “usual” voices, there are exceptions and lessons that may be useful to teams working to foster systemic community or regional changes here in Kansas.
Insanely Simple: The Obsession that Drives Apple’s Success
By Ken Segall Your purpose must be clear in order to lead effectively for the common good. But it’s all too easily to be thrown off track by complexity. Segall writes about how an obsessive focus on simplicity helped Steve Jobs – Apple’s co-founder, president and chief executive officer – propel his company forward as a revolutionary force in business. Such dedication often produced uncomfortable moments for Jobs’ employees. Even Jobs, who died in 2011, could find himself sidetracked from time to time. But this book illustrates how becoming champions of what’s truly essential to us can help us achieve the greatest impact in our work and leadership.
Have a book, film or other resource you’d like to see included in The Leadership Library? Please email your suggestions to Chris Green at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
LEADERSHIP IS THE BEST MEDICINE
While health care is an important part of determining a nation’s health, it is only one factor and not the most important. While the U.S. ranks first globally in per capita expenditures on health, we rank 38th in the world for health outcomes. As I see it, leadership is the single most important resource needed to improve the health of our nation. In state after state, leadership is being marshaled to create change and enhance health — by focusing on more than just health care.
A good diet, a steady and safe food supply, and physical activity also are central to promoting health and well-being. Cycling, walking and the use of public transportation promote health in four ways. They provide exercise, reduce fatal accidents, increase social contact and reduce air pollution. Education also contributes to health. The statistics that document this fact are compelling. College graduates can expect to live at least five years longer than individuals who have not finished high school. The infant mortality rate among children born to women who never graduated from high school is nearly double that of women with college degrees. These are troubling outcomes considering 46 percent of adults over age 25 have either not completed or pursued education beyond high school.
Our genes and biology account for 10 to 15 percent of an individual’s health, health care accounts for about another 15 to 20 percent with the balance being determined by many social conditions and life experiences. These social determinants help dictate health outcomes, and today’s leaders are beginning to understand that addressing these circumstances is necessary to enhance the health of Americans. Research has demonstrated that the longer people live in disadvantaged circumstances, the more likely they are to suffer from a range of health problems, particularly cardiovascular disease. Poor social and economic circumstances affect health throughout life. People further down the social ladder usually run at least twice the risk of serious illness and premature death as those near the top. Poverty and social exclusion increase the risks of divorce and separation, disability, illness, addiction and social isolation, and vice versa, forming vicious circles that deepen the predicaments people face.
You can see why leadership is needed if we want to improve the health of our nation. When state leaders work to create jobs, eliminate poverty and enhance access to educational opportunities, healthful food, early childhood education and public transportation, they are health care leaders. By creating healthy places to live, work and play, they are positively impacting the social determinants of health in their states.
Much of the political debate in health care over the last generation has focused on reforms to the health care system. While most of us would agree the status quo is not sustainable or desirable, many would disagree on the path of reform. But if we look at health in a broader context and consider what truly must be done to improve the health of our states and nation, areas of consensus quickly emerge. We should expect to pursue real solutions, not just technical fixes. I believe a robust dialogue among state officials has and will continue to provide pathways for effective change. All of us should be committed to energizing such discussions and working to find solutions to the health challenges facing the states. Albert Einstein, a pretty smart guy, once said, "if I had an hour to solve a problem, I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions." His insights should guide communities as they consider how to treat gaps and disparities in health care. Time spent in diagnosis will pay dividends when it comes time to develop a plan of treatment.
victory but that's not leadership. Health must be defined more broadly than just health care. Leadership demands that the complexities of the problem be studied and understood and that solutions be comprehensive, designed to create impactful adaptive change. We can all agree that quality health care is important, but education, transportation, economic status, social integration and good nutrition are even more essential to our health and therefore the health of our communities. Yet, in the absence of leadership, the U.S. will continue to lag behind many other nations in the world when it comes to health. If we want to improve the health of our nation, leadership, real leadership, is just what the doctor ordered. David Adkins, a former Kansas state senator, serves as the executive director and CEO of the Council of State Governments, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group based in Lexington, Ky., serving all three branches of state government. This column has been adapted from a piece originally printed in the organizationâ€™s Capitol Ideas magazine.
Kansas has always been a place where it was easy to keep one eye on the horizon. That's exactly what Kansans need to do when they consider health care reform. It's easy to go for the quick fix and claim
In my volunteer work for the American Legion Boys State of Kansas Leadership Academy, I found the Kansas Leadership Center’s approach to leadership for the common good very engaging. I could easily see concepts such as heat, disequilibrium, the gap and defaults play out in real life. As a person of faith actively involved in my church, though, I wondered, “How do they make leadership competencies such as ‘Diagnose Situation’ and ‘Intervene Skillfully’ work in communities of faith?” It’s a question that has become especially relevant for my role of program manager of KLC’s Leadership & Faith Transforming Communities, which I started earlier this year. The struggle for me became my own adaptive challenge. Is a purposeful, provocative and engaging approach to leadership only really applicable to situations in civic life where no one person is in charge? Congregations seem to be much different, having multiple lines of traditional authority and often many levels of internal hierarchy. I wondered where concepts such as technical and adaptive challenges fit in the larger picture of church life. One key reading for the Leadership & Faith Teams program has been “The Externally Focused Church,” a 2004 book by Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson. I was intrigued by the title of Chapter 7, “From Mercy to Justice.” Premised on one of my favorite Old Testament verses, Micah 6:8, the simple fable held an important insight for me. The story goes like this: From home, a person looking out the window sees someone stumble out of a nearby stream, badly beaten, clearly hungry, wearing only tattered rags. The homeowner quickly runs out to provide the immediate aid and care required by this poor soul. The story goes on to say this same scene repeated itself the next several days. And of course, each day the merciful act was to provide a response to whatever was needed by each new bedraggled soul. However; after the fourth or fifth day, the person who has been providing all this mercy began to ask, ‘What is happening upstream of my place that causes all of this pain and suffering?’
To go upstream, to identify and solve the more complex, systemic problem is then revealed as the move from “mercy” to “justice.” We often find it easier to help someone who is clearly in need of specific help. It is a far more complex task to learn about and bring changes to the situation that brought them to this point. That was the watershed moment for me. Merciful acts seemed, by-in-large, often very technical solutions to a situation (providing food, shelter, clothing and support). By contrast, acts of justice often require us to look upstream and learn what is happening, why is it happening and how can we change the situation – the adaptive challenge, indeed. Once I made it past that point, it has become far easier to see how leadership for the common good intertwines with faith. For me and perhaps for you, on our humble walk with God, the default setting in the Christian world can be to love kindness, to do the merciful thing and leave justice, the adaptive work, to someone else, perhaps even someone in authority. But as persons of faith, I don’t think we get a “pass” on justice. We must ask, what are the systemic, economic issues upstream of that food bank, clothing shelter or medical clinic that lead people to seek that help? Addressing these problems will not be easy. But in the end, I am energized to know that I am called as a person of faith to tackle tough problems and not to shy away from conflict when it’s needed to make beneficial changes happen. I am called to ask the hard questions, and while I am clearly capable of doing many merciful acts, in the end, going upstream is my mission as well. Thane Chastain is the program manager for the Kansas Leadership Center’s Leadership & Faith Transforming Communities initiative. He is a lifelong member of the United Methodist Church and currently supports Calvary Methodist Church in Wichita as the director of emerging media ministries. For more than three decades, he has worked with the American Legion Boys State of Kansas Leadership Academy.
REDEFINING CIVIC LEADERSHIP: AUTHORS OUTLINE WHAT IT TAKES TO ‘LEAD FOR THE COMMON GOOD’ By Chris Green
Redefining Civic Leadership
DAV I D D. C H R I S L I P
and ED O’MALLEY
Today’s toughest challenges beg for more of us to lead in more purposeful, provocative and engaging ways. That idea is at the heart of a new book released this fall by two of the Kansas Leadership Center’s founders, President and CEO Ed O’Malley and Senior Fellow David Chrislip, who has spent 35 years engaging with the concept of civil society and in the work of civic leadership and collaboration. In “For the Common Good: Redefining Civic Leadership,” O’Malley and Chrislip make the case for why a different kind of leadership is necessary for the common good and describe what that kind of leadership looks like, embedding that description in the stories of five real-life “exemplars.” They also encourage readers to take up their own journey in learning to lead. Journal managing editor Chris Green sat down with Chrislip and O’Malley to discuss the book, who should read it and what they hope to inspire through it.
Chris: I go to a lot of bookstores and whenever I’m there, I always find myself standing in front of the leadership section. I am always kind of amazed about how many different books are out there about leadership and all the different perspectives. I’m curious: What makes this book unique?
Ed: This is a book where if you have a leadership challenge and you don’t have the authority to solve it, these are the ideas that you are going to need to be able to execute. … This is a book for those realize, “I will never have the authority I need solve this problem. How will I lead in that circumstance?”
Ed: When you stand in front of the bookshelf at Barnes & Noble or Watermark (a bookstore in Wichita) or wherever, in most of these leadership books, their context is the organization. The leadership books are as much about managing people as they are about leading change.
Chris: Whom do you envision reading this book? Ed: I imagine people coming to a KLC program and they’re intrigued. They want to go deeper; they want to learn more. I can picture them reading it before they come to KLC. I could picture folks who went through a KLC experience years ago picking it up and trying to reconnect to that experience. And I think our hope is that people who care about creating a stronger community, wherever that community happens to be, will read it as well.
What’s unique about this book is that it’s grounded firmly in the idea of leading change in the community context. I think the civic dimension, that community dimension, is something that makes this very different than most of those books. There are a lot of books about leadership; there aren’t many about leadership in the civic domain.
David: We also wanted to make sure that these were ideas that were credible in the larger world, too, with people who write and think about leadership. It wouldn’t be a book by somebody, based on two or three years of experience, saying, “Yeah I got the answer. Here it is for you.” … We wanted it grounded in some history and some thinking that people — and they’ve responded well ... scholars like Barbara Kellerman or Tom Cronin or Richard Cuoto or others — who could read the book and say, “it’s good.”
David: Another piece that comes to mind, too, is that we work off that distinction between adaptive and technical challenges. While that concept and distinction have been around for 25 years or something like that, the extension of that concept into “what does that mean for the practice of leadership?” hasn’t gone very far. This is a book that takes that distinction to say these [civic problems] are mostly adaptive challenges where authority doesn’t mean what it used to and there’s very little of it, it’s so diffuse, that you need these practices.
KLC President and CEO Ed O’Malley (left), and KLC Senior Fellow David Chrislip.
Ed: What I think we’re hoping people would do is ask themselves: “What more could I do for the common good? How could I align more of what I care about to things that are of importance for the common good? What would it look like for me to lead more for the common good than I have in the past?”
Chris: For someone who’s not familiar with KLC or only just learning about it, what would you tell them this book is about? David: For me it goes back to the civic context. ... Authority, again, is so diffuse. ... If you want something to happen or care about something, you’re going to have to figure out a way to engage others, because you’re not going to be able to impose what you want to do. ... My hope is it starts to turn away the thinking from the use of authority to the use of engagement.
David: It seems to me that we’re in a kind of dangerous tipping point with democracy in practice, in this country and in this state, too. People are becoming so frustrated, so perhaps disgusted, ashamed, embarrassed, whatever, that we tip further away from civic engagement towards cynicism. This book points out that fork. And for those who may feel frustrated, becoming more cynical, becoming more angry, wondering what to do — hopefully this opens up the possibility of some positive action that can be done that starts with you personally. Because if you’re waiting for “out there” to correct itself, you’ll be waiting a very long time.
Ed: We want to believe that we just elect the right person, the right president, and everything will be fine. I think what this book is trying to say is: “No. If you want to create the society you hope for, you need a lot more people exercising a lot more of the behaviors that are consistent to the things in this book.” So, I think it’s a book for people who hope for a better country, a better community, a better society. And also a book for people who wonder: “What does it look like to exercise the type of leadership needed to bring that about?”
For the Common Good: Redefining Civic Leadership is available at kansasleadershipcenter.org.
Chris: In the final chapter, you imagine a movement of more people leading for the common good and ask readers to join you in helping create it. What questions do you hope to see readers asking themselves after they finish?
M OV ERS & S H A P ERS Anyone can lead, anytime, anywhere. It’s an idea that an up-and-coming generation of Kansas leadership developers in their 20s and 30s have taken to heart as they work to help others become more effective at fostering change. Follow the stories of four people from different parts of Kansas who work to build others’ capacity to lead for the common good as they continue to develop themselves.
It’s an idea that an up-and-coming Alumni of the Kansas Leadership Center’s Art & Practice of Civic Leadership Development – 20s and 30s program are part of a new generation of leadership developers bringing skills to individuals in a variety of different contexts. 19.
N ONPROFI T PR OG RA M M ANAG ER PR OV I DES S PAC E, S TRUC TUR E FOR ‘ UNATTAC HED’ TEEN S TO B ECOM E S ELF -SUFF I C IEN T
Building resiliency Miguel Jaramillo of Synergy Services talks with Synergy street outreach advocate Glenn Burgess at an open house at the Kansas City home for homeless teenagers.
By Dawn Bormann Novascone
There may not be a cookie cutter approach to success. But there is one truth Miguel Jaramillo tells to the teenagers he counsels no matter their obstacles. “You have that authority to shape your identity,” he says. Jaramillo serves as the program manager of the Youth Resiliency Center at Synergy Services in Kansas City. Some of the teenagers have been abused, neglected, thrown out or left home. The nonprofit agency estimates that “on any given night in Greater Kansas City there are 2,000 ‘unattached’ teens living on the streets, sleeping in cars, or ‘couch surfing’ because they do not have a safe place to live.” Synergy, which serves the entire metropolitan area, can provide shelter and support for self-sufficiency. The resiliency center is designed as safe place for teens to drop in for a shower, lockers and laundry. It also offers a hangout complete with a recording studio, art space, basketball court, computer lab and more. About 1,200 teens use the services annually. Jaramillo’s role is to make sure the teenagers are prepared to succeed in school, work and life. It’s a broad and tall order. “We provide opportunities for youth to be successful and to fail,” he says. That last part can be difficult, he admits. But it’s also crucial. Bouncing back from adversity is part of life. “My work with them is not about me. It is all about them. And I can’t want something more for them than they want for themselves,” he says. “They have to be the active leader and active participant in their journey.” Allowing room for failure can be gut-wrenching.
“It was a real youth learning moment for everyone,” Jaramillo says. The trip was canceled that day, but the committee didn’t give up and rescheduled the trip weeks later. “It’s very tough to provide that space for people to fail,” he says. “The thing we have to caution is: Is this an appropriate time for that to happen?” That approach wouldn’t work for every teenager. “The work with young people is not an exact science,” he says. He regularly acknowledges to young people that he doesn’t have all the answers. But he works to model success through his actions. It’s how Jaramillo learned. His mother is Mary Lou Jaramillo, who is the president and CEO at El Centro, a nonprofit that empowers families to succeed. Jaramillo also gives back to the community, including serving as the youngest board member of the local Catholic Charities Foundation. Professionally, he’s worked with several agencies dedicated to improving the lives of Kansas City youth. “Whatever I felt like I have taught young people, they have given me in tenfold,” he says. Synergy Associate Executive Director Dennis Meier says Jaramillo has also played an important role in encouraging Synergy staff, who could easily get burdened with overwhelming situations they hear about. Jaramillo has adopted the Synergy philosophy of focusing on how staff plays a role in transforming adversity to strength, Meier says. It’s why the first day a youth arrives, Jaramillo doesn’t pepper them with questions.
Shortly before Jaramillo joined Synergy, a youth group carefully planned a zoo field trip. The teens organized permission slips, lunch and a departure time but overlooked a critical detail.
“We’re here; we care,” he says.
“They just assumed that [Synergy] would provide the transportation,” Jaramillo says.
And then he puts them in the driver’s seat with a motivating question.
The lapse was discovered as the committee – and their peers – excitedly arrived for the trip.
“Where do you want to be at the end of your time with us?”
By Erin Perry O’Donnell
CO LLEGE AD MISS ION S OF FICIAL GI V ES TH E WORK BACK
One Butler student was so energized by working with the group at Southeast that she began visiting her old middle school in Wichita, urging even younger kids to start thinking about college. “She said, ‘I never had anybody come out and talk to me while I was there who looked like me,’” Villarreal says. Eventually, the student recruited some of her Butler peers to come along, too. They turn up at events that parents attend, like teacher conferences, to talk with them in Spanish about college preparation.
In 2011, Latinos made up about 17 percent of the U.S. population. By 2050, that figure is projected to be 30 percent – nearly one in three Americans. Anna Villarreal sees strength in those numbers. But it won’t mean much, she says, unless young Latinos prepare now to be the decision-makers of the future. “I think it’s also important that we’re fast growing in business and education and politics – all areas, not just in population,” Villarreal says.
Villarreal remembers feeling that she, too, was the only Latina on the college track. Some friends accused her of “acting white.” But mentors like Yolanda Camarena, prominent in Wichita’s Hispanic community, encouraged her dream of becoming the first in her family to attend college. Villarreal went on to earn a dual degree at Wichita State University and, later, an MBA at Newman University.
As assistant director of admissions for Butler Community College and a board member for the Kansas Hispanic Education & Development Foundation, Villarreal has made it her mission to encourage more young Latino people not only to attend college but also to finish their degrees. She also advises the college’s chapter of the Hispanic American Leadership Organization, or HALO. Villarreal, 30, pushes those students to volunteer in the community and take on more responsibility in the group, so they can uncover their innate leadership qualities.
Camarena urged her to volunteer in the community, as Villarreal does now with her students at Butler. She also takes a group every year to the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Conference in Chicago. At the conference a few years ago, one of her students was inspired to help get out the Latino vote. She organized voter registration drives in the Latino community and even attended citizenship ceremonies to register the newest Americans on the spot. Before, Villarreal says, the student had been completely cynical about the value of a vote, based on her father’s experience as a politician in Mexico.
“I want to create opportunities for them to find it within themselves,” she says. “It’s more powerful that way – when they discover it on their own.” Students also realize they can be powerful cultural messengers, she says, talking through concerns about college not only with other Latino youths but their families. Last year, a Wichita Southeast High School teacher approached Villarreal about starting a leadership and service organization for Latino students there. Villarreal turned the project over to her own students. Many of them bonded with the teens, she says, and some who had never even considered college were applying for admission and scholarships by year’s end.
“That experience is so much more powerful,” Villarreal says. “It means more to them when they feel like it’s coming from within themselves.”
Anna Villarreal of Butler Community College works with incoming freshman students at the Andover campus. 15.
Gary Palmer looks through old photography negatives at his studio in Fort Scott.
Leadership lens PHOTOGRA PHER HELPS DEVELOP L EA DERSHIP SKILLS AT A VAR IETY OF LEVE LS IN S OUTHEAS T KAN SA S
By Sarah Caldwell Hancock
similar challenges who can share resources and help both the community and the region.
If Gary Palmer’s life were a photograph, it would be blurred with activity. But it’s purposeful activity, often designed to foster the development of leadership in others. In his position as director of development and alumni relations at Fort Scott Community College, he raises funds to support student scholarships. Working with Project 17, he helps recruit people from communities in a 17-county Eastern Kansas region to learn leadership capacities that will enhance cooperation and progress. As part of a team working to develop historic downtown Fort Scott, he helps inspire others to make his own town a better place. He also owns and operates the photography studio he opened when he was 16. A Fort Scott native and the son of an entrepreneur and a longtime educator, Palmer seems to combine the best qualities of these two categories in his approach to leadership development. He’s willing to take risks but wants to help inspire others. He puts time into building contacts and relationships and uses those relationships to help others succeed. He looks out for his business interests but thinks past his own block, street and town. At Fort Scott Community College, Palmer manages about 300 scholarships to help the college’s roughly 2,000 students study construction trades, cosmetology, nursing, general education, music or anything else the college offers, all while satisfying the criteria of individual donations or bequests. He looks at the small picture in terms of helping individual students — about 80 percent of the college’s enrollees receive scholarship or financial assistance of some sort — and at the big picture in terms of making the college more comprehensive both in the community and in whom it serves through appropriate capital expenditure and curriculum changes. Palmer’s ability to zoom out has also proven vital in his capacity to help guide Project 17 and develop leadership capacity in others. Project 17 consists of a regional approach to three issues: health and wellness, economic development (through health and wellness and manufacturing jobs) and leadership development. Recruiting participants for KLC training to bolster this “three-legged stool” entails energizing people from diverse communities with
Palmer identified and helps seek out recruits and takes great pride in directing them to KLC training opportunities. One cohort of teams has completed training, and a second cohort starts this fall. Palmer reports that “progress is generally good, and the teams say they appreciate the knowledge and coaching they’re receiving. Because it’s a regional approach, they’re taking it slow and being methodical,” he explains. Palmer fosters leadership on another methodical team closer to home in an effort to develop historic downtown Fort Scott. Successes through the Public Square Communities program nearly a decade ago led to a community visioning process and to the idea of working toward a vibrant downtown, but it hasn’t been easy. The group voted Palmer into a key position of influence, a role he was reluctant to assume because he wanted to have “a loud voice” in offering input. “I have to admit,” he says, the challenge “has been utilizing every resource and competency that I know from KLC training to make progress.” Palmer reports that his team “is highly diversified with various interpretations of what developing historic downtown should look like,” which requires using all of his training to avoid disenfranchising anyone or becoming upset. He helps members of the group develop by taking care to model KLC leadership competencies and language and avoid “throwing technical darts against the wall.” His approach entails slower but more effective meetings and emphasizes listening and diagnosing problems, all of which have helped reward his team with “real conversation. “It’s in everyone’s nature to hold close to home the things that are important to them,” Palmer says. Helping others see the bigger picture is just another way Palmer contributes to encouraging others develop their own leadership skills. It’s a task that continues to help a variety of southeast Kansans bring their commitment to improving themselves and their communities more clearly into focus.
By Sarah Caldwell Hancock
FACILITATOR HELPS GAR DEN CITY TURN DIVERS ITY IN TO A S OUR CE OF STR EN GTH
Katrina Lowry recalls her anthropology professor at Kansas State University advising students to visit her hometown of Garden City “if you want to go to one of the most diverse places in the world.” After leaving her town to attend Manhattan Christian College and K-State, she grew to realize this diversity was a source of strength. “I can learn about different religions and cultures and eat different food,” she explains. “How many times in a town of this size — around 30,000 — does that happen? I feel really blessed by it.” But Lowry knows her town’s diversity dominates it reputation, and as a past participant in Garden City’s Every Voice leadership class and chair of the Leadership Garden City board (she is one year into a three-year term), Lowry stresses that her town’s challenges are common to any smaller community. Garden City officials are concerned about attracting and retaining young people, obtaining enough dental and medical providers, and maintaining an agricultural lifestyle despite drought and its accompanying economic difficulties. A “hometown farm community mentality” reigns in that people help their neighbors, she says, and Lowry and her board look to translate that impulse from the personal to the community level. Such potential pulled Lowry back to Garden City after living and working in Houston, Wichita and Denver. Working for the Finney County Community Health Coalition as an assistant program manager of Project LAUNCH (Linking Action for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health), a federal demonstration project, gives Lowry ample opportunity to build relationships and help others in the community connect. Her leadership ties deepened when she participated in Leadership Garden City’s Every Voice class in the fall of 2010 and attended KLC’s summit for community leadership programs.
Now she helps others engage by identifying and learning how to make progress on their challenges, regardless of whether they’re civic, personal, professional, or family related, and she finds the process energizing. “There are always challenges, and it’s easy to feel hopeless,” she says. “As a participant, I felt informed by what I learned. Now I watch people transform and learn about themselves and start to figure out where they fit in the community and how they can use their talents and skills to start making a difference. Watching them put this into practice is fun.” FINDING VOICES The Every Voice class embraces the guiding principle that anyone can lead anywhere, anytime; pursuant to that idea, participants must register, but anyone can attend. The class draws on vignettes about real-life civic leadership challenges in Kansas to teach and illustrate the leadership competencies along with other resources and activities, such as the Kolb inventory of learning styles. Lowry helps facilitate the class, but her involvement doesn’t end there. “One of the things I do is informal mentoring,” she says, noting that she targets professionals in her area of expertise. “I work with early childhood professionals and try to get them involved with the leadership program and implement those skills in the early childhood community and see how they think the skills they’ve learned fit in with what they do,” she explains. Lowry notes that she believes people don’t separate their personal, professional, and civic lives, and that if Every Voice participants undergo personal transformation, it can help in interactions with family as well as with work and civic challenges. “My goal is encouragement,” Lowry continues. She wants people of all stripes — not just those in early childhood professions — to keep practicing the skills they’ve learned and believe that they have the necessary skills to succeed. “I help them think
Reinforcing change Katrina Lowry helps with a backpack handout at the local National Guard armory in Garden City. The backpack program is for students who need school supplies for the upcoming school year.
in different ways so they can make some progress personally and help them make progress in other ways,” Lowry says. Allie Medina, project manager for the Finney County Economic Development Corporation and Leadership Garden City alumni coordinator, has benefitted from Lowry’s encouragement. Lowry was a facilitator when Medina took the Every Voice class, and Medina looks up to Lowry. “She’s a support person, a reinforcer, and helps me bring out ideas and get different perspectives,” Medina says. The community repays Lowry’s support of others with enthusiasm for Leadership Garden City. Businesses and individuals make financial contributions, donate skills to make flyers and promotional materials, provide
meeting places, and donate meals for classes and the recently formed Konza Club for alumni. It’s emblematic of a communitywide desire to improve Garden City while keeping its core attributes intact, an effort Lowry helps foster through her work. “One of the things I love is that in Garden City, people don’t give up,” she says. “We keep trying … to find interpreters, to find culturally sensitive ways to interact with each other, to have hard conversations. They’re not always rosy — they’re really hard. But we have the conversations. We talk about development and how much is good, how do we fund our schools, how to we deal with changing laws — these things are common for any community.”
Musicians play in front of the Emma Chase CafĂŠ in Cottonwood Falls on Friday nights throughout the year. In the winter they move indoors.
NEEDING OUR (CIVIC)
SPACE By Patsy Terrell
The Kiowa County Commons in Greensburg serves as a community learning center. This building houses the historical museum, the Kansas State University Research and Extension center, the library and a soda fountain, which was enjoyed by Bill and Sue Bunyon of Dodge City earlier this year.
It’s hard to escape the pull of responsibilities we have at home and work each day. But bookstores, coffee shops, libraries and other gathering spots expose us to new ideas and help connect us with others. Seeking out these ‘third places’ – and creating them when necessary – might be a crucial ingredient for fostering the common good here in Kansas.
Outside of home and beyond the workplace, civic spaces throughout Kansas allow people to gather and share stories that can both build relationships and community. People come together in these spots and may discover common ground they may not even know exists until they start talking. That conversation may start because they’ve read the same book, or live in the same place, or care about the same thing, even though their viewpoints may be diametrically opposed. These communal areas, our civic “front porches,” if you will, take many varied forms, from public libraries to bookstores to coffee shops and diners. Sociologist Ray Oldenburg coined the term, “third place,” for spots where we engage outside the confines of home (first place), or work (second place).
We can easily barricade ourselves in the comforts of home or become enthralled in the challenges of work. Many of our communities have spread geographically to encompass great distances. Civic spaces themselves can diminish in their importance as the way we live changes or disappear, such as when a coffee shop goes out of business. Long before the widespread use of the Internet at home, Oldenburg saw a “structure of shared experience beyond that offered by family, job and passive consumerism” being “small and dwindling.” For civic spaces to remain a key part of the Kansas landscape, we must consciously seek them out and even create new ones — formal and informal; temporary and permanent — to foster the relationships and community necessary to work for the common good. “The availability of public space has actually shrunk over time,” Millsap says. “This is an issue we in the library world talk about a lot.” As new buildings are considered, it is “a focus is to really become a destination to the community, to help build community, to be a part of the neighborhood,” she says. “People are hungry for that.” By their nature, libraries are repositories for collections that take up considerable space. “The people space we have is jealously guarded,” she says of the Topeka library.
“It's all about telling stories and building relationships,” says Gina Millsap, executive director of the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, which was designed with spaces where community members could gather. “I think it's in our DNA — stories and storytelling. We're hardwired to need those, to want them, and to seek out connections with people that create and share those stories.” In his book, “The Great Good Place,” Oldenburg posits that the interactions we have in these “third places” are essential for a functioning democracy. These gathering places provide opportunity for interactions we may not have in any other part of our lives. The interactions there, both planned and unplanned, can lead to creative thought and connections.
Libraries in smaller communities may host everything from political forums to baby showers. In all circumstances, they’re a chance for people to connect. “Sometimes just seeing a person and sitting down face to face is a treat,” says Sue Blechl, director of the Emporia Public Library.
Yet our use of civic spaces remains under pressure in our society. The pull of both work and home is strong, with commitments to duty and family often overwhelming.
The benefits become clear when you can see what happens in a truly impactful civic space, says Martha Slater Farrell, one of the organizers for Kansas Dialogue, a gathering of people from across the state and many
W H AT D O Y O U G A I N B Y V I S I T I N G A T H I R D S PA C E ? NOVELTY New conversations, unexpected interactions created each time. PERSPECTIVE Opportunity to benefit from the wisdom of people you don’t see every day. SPIRITUAL TONIC A place for relaxation and fuller expression. FRIENDS BY THE SET Opportunity to be acknowledged and greeted by people from different walks of life.
H O W D O E S A G R E AT C I V I C S PA C E C O N T R I B U T E TO T H E C O M M O N G O O D ? Provides a place for “good” talk, where things such as grassroots politics can be explored and take shape. Helps develop habits of association with a broader array of people. Affords the opportunity for authentic and decent engagement with others. Provides a place for fun within limits. Encourages gatherers to think about the common good. - Adapted from “The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community” by Ray Oldenburg (Marlowe & Company, 1989).
TOP TO BOTTOM:
Tom Grist of Augusta plays with a group of ukulele players who get together once a month at Watermark Books. The independent bookstore is a destination for a variety of group interaction in Wichita, including book clubs. The Kiowa County Commons in Greensburg was built to replace several community gathering spots lost when a tornado hit the town in 2007. Lisa Cooper of Sydney, Nebraska, holds her children, Luci and Cooper, at the Emma Chase CafĂŠ on bluegrass music night.
walks of life who come together once a year at different places for an “off-the-record” weekend retreat to talk about issues shaping the state, world, workplace and family. “I am absolutely fascinated by what happens when you gather a group of people under the same roof to talk,” Farrell says. “We create a new space every year. It has been under trees, in hotel rooms, museums, store fronts and on university campuses.” She says the purpose is, “just bringing people together for the sole purpose of getting to know each other and having really great conversation.”
CREATING A CIVIC SPACE What makes a great civic space? And, how do you create one? One important aspect is making sure that the space is built or designed in a way that actually encourages people to linger, connect, strengthen existing relationships and build new ones. When thinking about creating a space that will foster interaction, even small details matter. Sarah Bagby, owner of Watermark Books and Cafe in Wichita, says she has changed the layout of the store and café near the College Hill area of Wichita over the years to facilitate more interaction. At one time there were book cases separating the café, but they realized people were bonding in the café and they were doing a disservice to people to have it closed off. They responded to people’s movement and opened up the space so people could share more freely. But while the environment matters, good civic spaces are primarily about people and their needs, not the structure itself. When Greensburg suffered a devastating tornado in 2007, most of the town’s buildings were destroyed, including their communal gathering spots. It now has “The Commons,” a 20,000-square-foot building that houses the library, historical museum, extension office and the town’s media center. “Truthfully, the entire idea for the facility as it was first envisioned was an effort to save money,” says Matt Christenson, Kiowa County IT director. “Having lost pretty much every major facility we had, and
being under-insured to boot, we were trying to save money wherever we could.” Initially, the plan was to house the library and the museum. When the courthouse was being renovated, it made sense to move the extension office to the commons as well. The media center grew out of a need they realized after the tornado. It is focused on student journalism and maintains an online presence with information about Greensburg. “It’s a hub of community communication updated for 21st century,” Christenson says of the center, which can be found online at http://www.kwksmedia.org. “Communications was a big hole after the tornado,” Christenson says. Population of the city scattered while the rebuilding was happening. “The facilities are nice to have,” he says, “but the takeaway is that the people are the really important part of any community. They'll find a way.”
PLACES FOR DIFFERENT VOICES Another measure of a great civic space is whether it brings different kinds of people together. Katy Reinecker manages the Harvest Café in Inman, a city which has fewer than 1,400 residents. Although there is a senior center in town, the café is where all ages can gather. “You find 20-year-olds sitting with 80-year-olds in here,” she says. The café encourages communal gathering. “We have a table right outside our kitchen door called, ‘The Family Table.’ If you come in here by yourself, we’re going to encourage you to sit at the family table,” Reinecker says. “Especially the ones we know are widowed or otherwise live alone, this is a place for them to come where they can be with a lot of people. They’re only alone until they get here.” The welcoming nature in such places is part of what makes people feel they can relax and be open to conversation in a civic space. As a result, civic spaces might just as easily be a private business as they will a government building. When Blenda Hoskinson started College Hill Coffee in Winfield 12 years ago, she was single. “A coffeehouse was a place you could go if you were alone or with a group, and be comfortable.,” she says. “I wanted it where people could come in and spend as much time as they wanted.”
Gary and Bev Rayl of Hutchinson enjoy lunch at the Harvest CafĂŠ in Inman.
That doesn’t fit with the typical business model of turning over tables quickly, which leads to selling more product. But private businesses, both large and small, can own the identity of being a crucial civic space and prosper at the same time.
views and ideas or strengthening our connections to a community. Annie Wilson is a musician who regularly plays at the Cottonwood Falls Jam Sessions held every Friday night. “With musicians it’s a deep bond to play with other people, even if you never speak with them or even know their names, you’ve done something creative and very emotionally fulfilling together and you feel like you are on the same team or almost family,” she says. “It’s quite a deep connection.”
In Inman, the café has a sign on the wall that says, “Sit Long, Talk Much.” Reinecker says: “You’ve got to have a hometown place to go.” But there’s still a balance to be had. “Watermark as a civic space, as a place to gather, is at the core of everyday of our lives at Watermark,” Bagby says. “If people don’t support local businesses, there aren’t those civic spaces.”
Wilson, who won the Flint Hills Balladeer award, writes songs that capture the sense of the Flint Hills area and has a band that plays regularly and records CDs, says that would not have happened without participating in the civic space created by Sue and Monty Smith, owners of the Emma Chase Café, who started those jam sessions. “I would never have done this,” she says. “It would NOT have happened.”
BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER, IF ONLY FOR A MOMENT Great civic spaces also create an environment that offers opportunities for unexpected or incidental connections — the kind of contact with friends, neighbors and acquaintances that makes you feel like you’re truly a part of the community.
Wilson also believes the stories in the songs and the ones people tell during the jam session are important. “It helps people in the Flint Hills realize this place has a great value, and is also of value to other people,” she says.
The Lied Center at the University of Kansas in Lawrence is used for a variety of events, including graduations, lectures, meetings and performances ranging from professional ensembles to local dance schools.
Connections formed through creative work are strong. The Topeka library is considering “maker spaces,” where people can come together for the express purpose of creating something together. “We have a mandate to serve everyone,” Millsap says about the Topeka library. As a result, the staff is constantly trying to figure out how people use the space and what would make it more enticing. She wants everyone to feel welcome.
Executive Director Tim Van Leer says: “When you come to the Lied Center you’re going to see your friends and neighbors.” He says the conversations that happen before and after performances give people a way to connect again later when they run into each other. The shared experience is a conversation starter.
FIGURING OUT WHAT’S RIGHT FOR YOUR COMMUNITY
Speaking about the Topeka library, Millsap says: “If you stand in our rotunda and you live in this community, you’re almost certain to see someone you know. It makes everybody who comes in here feel they're part of something bigger. It broadens perspective and I think that's so critical; there’s great power in that.”
Technology also creates the opportunity to have civic spaces that are virtual in nature. Olathe has held an e-town hall meeting the last three years to engage people in their budget process. It takes questions by phone, email, Twitter and Facebook. “Generally we say we want to engage the public, but it’s on our turf. I think this pushes that conversation to a space that’s a little bit more comfortable and easier to access and engage in,” says Michael Wilkes, Olathe city manager.
While some of the connections people form in civic spaces will be temporary, others can be long lasting. Both have value by either exposing us to new people,
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP:
Alice Mills of Hutchinson placed a Little Free Library box in front of her home that has become a “stroller destination” in the neighborhood. People fill meeting rooms almost daily at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, which hosts professionals, classes and civic meetings. The Chase County Courthouse serves as a scenic backdrop for musical performances in front of the Emma Chase Café.
H O W D O Y O U C R E AT E A G R E AT C I V I C S PA C E ?
Should be built or designed in a way that encourages people to LINGER, CONNECT, STRENGTHEN existing relationships and build new ones.
Should be about the people and their NEEDS, not the structure itself.
Should bring different kinds of people together and expand the CIRCLE OF INTERACTIONS people can have.
Can take a VARIETY OF FORMS, including private businesses such as bookstores and coffee shops or even public buildings such as libraries.
Should CREATE OPPORTUNITIES for both incidental connections and the DEEPENING OF TIES with others.
SHOULD ENCOURAGE GATHERERS TO THINK ABOUT THE COMMON GOOD.
A group of women enjoy coffee and conversation at College Hill Coffee in Winfield. Their husbands meet every morning, but the wives only come on Friday and do not sit with their husbands.
He cautions that what works for Olathe may not be good for others. “You have to figure out what’s right for your community,” Wilkes says. But more civic spaces that encourage more faceto-face interaction are hardly a thing of the past in Olathe. The city is trying to create opportunity for intergenerational bonding in its new Community Center, the first one ever in this city of 130,000. As city leaders design what Wilkes calls the “community living room,” they’re taking into account what people have said they wanted in the 71,000-squarefoot building. One of those things is cross-generational interaction. “We really feel like there’s value to the seniors interacting with the teens,” Wilkes says. “We want that interaction and conversation.” Farrell says setting an intention for the space and having ground rules helps Kansas Dialogue create the space in which it exists each year. “Connections are made that would not have happened otherwise,” says Farrell of the Kansas Dialogue experience. “People get immersed in their own worlds, and it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that you have a very particular perspective that’s based on that world.”.
FOSTERING ACCOUNTABILITY, RESPONSIBILITY Civic spaces offer opportunities for interaction that breaks people out of that mold. “If I were to distill this down to the basic essence of what it is, it’s that third place,” Bagby says. “It can be serendipitous. They can just walk in and be in a place that feels like a community.”
been established and registered in Kansas. Typically wood boxes placed on posts in the front yards of homes, the miniature libraries allow people to pick up and donate books as they wish. Alice Mills of Hutchinson got a Little Free Library as a gift from her children last Christmas. Shortly after they put it up in their front yard in the historic Hyde Park area, people started visiting. “It's a pretty simple concept, but it's just great,” she says. She enjoys the idea that she’s contributing to the neighborhood and has visited with a number of people who have come for books. “It has become a stroller destination,” she says. It gives the neighborhood another way to connect. Making connections is also happening today in social media. But those relationships don’t exist only online. “Tweet-ups” bring people who are on Twitter together for social occasions. Social media clubs offer more chances for those who regularly connect online to meet face to face. In all cases, these are open to anyone who wants to join in, solely for the purpose of gathering. But what do these spaces have to do with, as the sociologist Oldenburg claimed, maintaining social vitality and a functioning democracy? Millsap says they give people a chance to see the importance of the common good and that they have a role in fostering it. “Places where people can come and gather encourage people to not turn over the reins of governance,” Millsap says. “It fosters that sense of what the public good is, and why it matters.” She says it helps people see they’re part of a larger community. “It not only creates a sense of well-being; it also creates a sense of accountability and responsibility.”
Perhaps the best news of all is that a civic space to facilitate that interaction can be formed easily. “You can create a space wherever you are,” Farrell says. For instance, at least 19 “little free libraries” have
PARTNERS? By Laura Roddy
Fall Friday nights, particularly in Kansas’ smaller towns, often represent a rallying point for communities. High school football games fill the evening with the crush of hemets and pads and the sounds of fired-up fans, peppy cheerleaders and spirited marching bands. Enthusiasm particularly soars when it’s time for the team to square off against its biggest rival, with bragging rights on the line for a whole year. It often doesn’t matter what the record is for each team. It’s a once-a-year chance for fans, clad in school colors and maybe even talking a little trash, to unite against common adversary. But there’s a darker side to sports rivalries that communities must be mindful of. High-stakes competition and an adversarial mindset can hold everyone back if it doesn’t end once the game comes to a close.
More and more, rival communities, competitors on the field, are finding they can’t afford to carry rival hostility off the field. In this mobile society, towns can’t operate as silos. They must work together for the benefit of their county or region as a whole. Old habits die hard, though. Sometimes communities find their young people have an easier time collaborating than longtime residents. Such is the case in Labette County in southeast Kansas. Labette County High School, in Altamont, and Parsons High School have been serious rivals for decades. Cheryl Bowen, a retired Parsons High School counselor, has been a Labette County resident for almost 50 years. “At times, it’s been a very vicious rivalry – a lot of angry words exchanged at games,” she says. “It’s not so much with the kids. It’s with the parents.” The school rivalry reflects some of the divisions in Labette County, which is home to four school districts with high schools, in all. While community leaders work to improve collaboration, some say there is still more to be done.
Noah Taylor of Parsons High School and Drew Dwyer of Labette County High School battle on the football field but are also part of a leadership program to unite students from their two schools.
Labette County High School, in Altamont, largely draws rural farm students. In contrast, Parsons High School is more diverse and consists of mostly students who live in town.
Labette County: Decades of rivalry County Commissioner Lonie Addis says the stakes for cooperation in Labette County are high. Labette County, he says, has the lowest valuation per capita of any of Kansas’ 105 counties. Its population of about 21,000 residents is aging and decreasing. About 60 percent of children in Labette County qualify for the free and reduced school lunch program.
Differences in the racial and ethnic make-up of Parsons and the county may contribute to divisions that have to be bridged. “We have other impediments towards collaboration, as well. There is still a fair amount of the ‘good ol’ boy’ networking system here,” Cooper says, which may make it difficult for women to move into positions of leadership or make positive change.
Too often, Addis says, sharp students often ending up living elsewhere for greater opportunities. “We have extremely limited resources,” Addis says. In the past, Addis says, the schools were pitted against each other, and the rivalry was even greater. Addis points to better collaboration among cities and schools in recent years. School administrators work well together, helping students use programs at another school that may not be available at their home campus.
She also says another contributing factor to tension between Parsons and rural Labette is the former Kansas Army Ammunition Plant – and its tax base. The plant opened in Parsons during World War II, employing more than 7,000 at its peak and dwindling over the decades before closing down in 2009 during a federal process to close and realign military bases across the country.
Herb Bath, mayor of Altamont, echoed that sentiment. He attributes the lessening contention between communities to the fact that people are much more mobile these days, and the kids from neighboring towns are growing up interacting with one another in various activities.
While a difficult economic climate may contribute to hard feelings and a passionate rivalry among the adults in the various Labette County communities, a program for students is helping young residents focus on their similarities, rather than their differences.
For example, Bath says, Altamont kids go into Parsons to take dance classes. Many Altamont residents also work in Parsons. “Anything that benefits Parsons also benefits Altamont,” Bath says. “It works both ways.”
‘Blending’ students from two communities Bowen, the retired counselor, gives some credit for the increasing good will between the young people of Altamont and Parsons to the Labette County Youth Leadership Program, which aims to build rapport among students at the two schools while developing their leadership skills.
Kitra Cooper agrees that the students interact with one another more than the adults do and that the rivalry is more deeply felt among the adults. Cooper is in position to see both sides. She has lived in Parsons for the last nine years but works with rural residents as the executive director of the Labette County’s federal farm service agency in Altamont.
Bowen has been involved with the program since its inception in 1998, which is backed by the Parsons Chamber of Commerce. Initially, the youth leadership program focused on Parsons students, but Bowen says they knew early on they wanted to broaden the focus. After some experimentation, organizers settled on a format involving two of Labette County’s four high schools, Parsons High and Labette County High, which are 10 miles apart. Parsons has around 400 students, Labette County 600.
From Cooper’s perspective, the level of collaboration in Labette County, although improving, is not as great as she has observed in other communities. There are several contributing factors to the intensity of the rivalry in Labette County. For one, she says, the populations of the two schools are different.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Parsons head coach David Pitts shakes the hands of the players from LCHS after the coin flip to start September's rivalry game between the two schools in Altamont; Parsons defensive back Matt Thande (7) tackles Labette County High running back Braden Anderson; Labette County High fans cheer during this fall's rivalry game against Parsons; Labette County High kicker Missy Dantic (19) hugs her boyfriend, Parsons kicker Noah Taylor (41), after the game. Her successful extra point attempt in the first quarter proved to be the difference in the game. His extra point was blocked after a touchdown in the second quarter. 45.
Missy Dantic of Labette County High practices kicking field goals.
Teachers and coaches are asked to nominate sophomores. The students have one year of high school under their belts and ample time to use their new leadership skills before graduation. “We are looking at having a diverse group,” Bowen says. “We want the kids that have the potential but haven’t had the opportunity.” Seven students from each school are selected. “We came up with the number of seven because that’s what fits in the van,” she says. Each school also has an adult sponsor and a one participant from the previous year who comes back as an ambassador. Parsons High participants select the Labette County student ambassador, and vice versa. The students meet monthly during the school day, starting out at Parsons High and often touring community businesses as well as learning leadership skills. “It’s a time of experimentation,” she says. “We encourage them to go out into the community to volunteer. We stress that leadership is an activity, not a position.” Bowen says that at the beginning of the program each year, Parsons High students sit on one side of the room and Labette County students sit on the other. “By the end of the first session, they blend,” she says. One year, Bowen says, the program happened to start on the day of the Parsons High-Labette County High football game. Included in the group were two football players, one from each school, who knew each other by reputation and had a negative impression. After doing a ropes course together that day, the football players developed respect for each other, and the rivalry dissolved into a friendly one, albeit intense on the field. Ross Benavides is a Parsons High senior. He was selected for Labette County Youth Leadership as a sophomore and returned as an ambassador his junior year. This fall, he was on the field as a football player for the annual game with Labette County High, which Parsons lost 7-6. “It’s one of the best games to see and best games to play in,” he says. “It’s a school pride thing.”
Benavides says the youth leadership program improved his leadership skills and also improved his impression of Labette County and his relationships with students there. “The people don’t hate each other,” Benavides says. “I always knew they were good kids.” What did change, he says, is that the program increased his connections with the other school. “It’s a lot easier to talk about things,” he says. Holleigh Sorrell is a Labette County senior who completed the leadership program and returned as an ambassador alongside Benavides. She echoed his sentiments about the improved relationships and increased collaboration between schools as a result of the program. “I learned how to see things from their point of view,” Sorrell says. “We’ve definitely used each other’s ideas,” for example, adopting a canned food drive. The idea of thinking of the broader community has also taken root recently in the area’s leadership program for adults. Cooper noted that it was only two years ago that Leadership Parsons changed its name to Leadership Labette, in recognition of the area’s limited resources and need to work in partnership to serve the entire county. Cooper, who is a volunteer on the Leadership Labette board, is also seeing more cooperation and collaboration among Parsons residents and other Labette residents in the formation of the Great Plains Development Authority, which aims promote industrial development at the site of the former ammunition plant for the benefit of the entire county. Additionally, she says, the Labette County Extension Office makes an effort pull in people from all over the county, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Labette County has been working to expand its program the last three years. Divisions in the community are part of her motivation to get involved in different community groups. But she hasn’t always seen as much progress as she would like.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Greensburg High School was destroyed by a tornado in 2007; The Labette County High marching band warms up before taking the field against Parsons High. Rivalry games are often an even bigger deal for the communities involved than the players themselves; The new high school in Kiowa County, which joins students from the towns of Greensburg, Mullinville and Haviland, opened in 2010, three years after a tornado devastated Greensburg; Volleyball players Holleigh Sorrell of Labette County High and Jessica Forbes of Parsons High tease each other. The two are part of a leadership program breaking down barriers between students of the two schools. 48.
“I wanted to see if I could help people see that they could pool resources and work together on a much larger scale and accomplish much more,” she says. “It just took me a while to see that most people in the county really didn’t care if anything more was accomplished. … It will take a catastrophe (like forced school consolidations or more jobs being lost) for people to really move on some issues.”
barrier for consolidation identified was money, so the school board paid for the new high school with no financial assistance from Mullinville or Haviland.
Kiowa County: ‘No one wants to go to someone else’s school’
“It was a very easy, no-brainer decision,” he says. “There was nothing fairer.”
Ki Gamble was Greensburg school board president at the time of the tornado and is still serving in that role in the renamed district. When board members framed their thoughts around the idea of taking down barriers for consolidation, Gamble says, their course became clear.
Soon enough, Mullinville and Haviland decided to close their high schools and send students to the new school in Greensburg.
A natural disaster did, in fact, precipitate change among Kiowa County rivals in south-central Kansas. On May 4, 2007, a mile-wide tornado obliterated Greensburg, population 1,400, killing 11 people and destroying 95 percent of the buildings.
Gamble recalls that some of the unhappy Greensburg patrons felt that the kids had lost everything in the tornado and now the board was taking the school from them, too. Now, six years later, some of the biggest opponents of the combination have become the greatest backers of the Kiowa County Mavericks, Gamble says. They adapted, and they still want to cheer on their local athletes.
As the Greensburg school district began the rebuilding process, something remarkable happened. The school board decided to change the school name. Students determined a new mascot and colors. The red-and-blue Greensburg Rangers became the Kiowa County Mavericks, sporting burnt orange and white. And when the doors opened to the new school, students from nearby Mullinville and Haviland joined the student body in a unified high school.
Although the Greensburg population is still significantly under its pre-tornado size with about 775 residents, Kiowa County High School, with students from Mullinville and Haviland, is now large enough to compete in 2A, and students have more resources at their disposal.
Superintendent Darin Headrick says that after the tornado, Greensburg called a collective meeting with nearby Mullinville and Haviland and opened the door to sharing school facilities. At that time, no one was interested.
The community needs a ‘collective focal point’ Mark Vermillion, associate professor of sport management at Wichita State University, says he is not surprised that the Parsons-Labette County rivalry runs deeper for the adults than the students or that residents who opposed changing the name of Greensburg High now cheer mightily for Kiowa County. “It’s a bigger deal for the fan bases for the athletes,” he says.
“No one wants to go to someone else’s school,” Headrick says. It wasn’t necessarily a particularly popular idea among Greensburg residents, either. Still, school officials thought that to keep the town and the school alive and thriving, they would need all the students they could get.
Vermillion pointed to the concept of collective identity. We as people tend to invest a large part of our individual identities into something particular, Vermillion says.
Headrick recalls the discussion among school board members as being: “How do we make this a facility that is welcoming to more and more people, more and more students, more and more communities?”
The same is true at the community level. Vermillion says sports can become disproportionately important when other areas are struggling. As your traditional view of your community erodes with, say, increasing
Headrick credits the school board with having the foresight to change the name to Kiowa County Schools as it moved forward with rebuilding. Another 50.
poverty and decreasing job opportunities, then another traditional source of pride, such as high school sports, becomes even more important.
On Friday football nights, the stakes will always be high for competing schools, but it shouldn’t bleed unnecessarily into relationships among community members.
“Tradition is just another form of ritual,” Vermillion says. “The habitualization of behavior provides structure for us.”
For rival communities looking to improve their civic engagement with each other, Vermillion recommends finding collective initiatives, so that players from competing teams can engage in something together.
In Greensburg, Vermillion says, high school sports were therapeutic to the recovering community, so of course a threat to that – the retirement of the Greensburg Rangers – was going to be tough for fans.
“Maybe bridging of these communities can begin with the football team,” he says.
“The community as a whole needs a collective focal point,” Vermillion says. Sports, he says, can help achieve a sense of “collective effervescence,” a term that was first coined by 17th century sociologist Emile Durkheim in reference to religious rituals. Greensburg needed to engage in the ritual of sports to reaffirm those communal bonds – and it needed a little time to adjust to a new focal point of Kiowa County Mavericks.
It also may be a matter of changing a reference point. As communities, Vermillion says, we manufacture pride, and we all define ourselves in reference to something. In many cases, rival towns – with the help of the media – may need to reframe what they define themselves against, Vermillion says. Rival communities that would benefit from partnerships and collaboration should focus on their similarities and reframe their identity as part of a common larger region or county.
Lessons on partnerships
For many places in Kansas, the future common good, and not just bragging rights, may rest on making that shift.
In Labette County and Kiowa County, community members say there see benefits to working together. “Through competition, you build and improve,” Bowen says. “The competition is OK on the field, but it needs to be kept in healthy perspective.” It’s hoped that joining high school students from different communities under the same banner will result in even greater collaboration within the county as those teenagers become adults.
THINKING DEEPER What BENEFIT does community pride or having a rival bring to your community?
But the jury’s still out, particularly in Labette County, where it’s unclear what those increased connections between youth will translate into over time, especially if young people keep being drawn to settling outside the county after college.
In what ways might rivalries or community pride be GETTING IN THE WAY of working for the common good?
Meanwhile, barriers to collaboration remain a hurdle Kansas communities must overcome. In many parts of Kansas, school consolidation or other sorts of cooperation might benefit students’ overall education, but community pride and identity – often tied to high school sports – make that difficult to achieve.
IMAGINE: What steps might be taken to move beyond these barriers?
“You have to remove barriers,” Headrick says. “If you want consensus, everyone has to give some.”
Kiowa County High School seniors Evan Jacks, Trever Powell, John Terhune and Michael Tedder are part of the first class to go all four years at the new school.
US VS THEM The state’s most intense prep sports rivalries often spurred by broader competition between communities
Newspaper sportswriters know Kansas high school rivalries. Some rivalries ebb and flow based the quality of the teams, they say. Others endure regardless of how good the teams are. A lot of time, it’s a matter of proximity and league membership. Joanna Chadwick, who has covered high school sports for The Wichita Eagle since 1996, says one of her favorites is Garden Plain vs. Conway Springs. “It’s a very heated rivalry,” Chadwick says. “You’re going to have a lot of family members going up against each other.” Even in the regular season, the annual football match-up is standing room only. One thing Chadwick likes is how the two schools have banded together the last few years to make something good come out of the their healthy competition. The student councils put on the Battle of the Birds (Garden Plain’s Owls vs. Conway Springs’ Cardinals), competing to see which school collects the most contributions for the Kansas Food Bank. John Curtis, the Dodge City Daily Globe’s sportswriter, says the biggest rivalry in southwest Kansas is Dodge City vs. Garden City. Each year, the football teams play for the honor of taking a hatchet home each year. 2012 was the 75th year. Curtis, who has done two stints in Dodge for a total of nine years, said the Dodge City-Garden
City rivalry is not just about football. “Throw quiz bowl out there, and they’ll go after each other,” he says. It’s also not just about the schools but rather the towns themselves. “It’s beyond Red Demons and Buffaloes,” he said. The competition between Dodge City and Garden City extends to such issues as financial districts, economic development and airplane service, he says. Eli Underwood is in his sixth year covering football in the greater Kansas City area on The Sunflower League Football Blog, www.sunflowerfootball.com. Underwood, who played football at Shawnee Mission West during his own high school days, says the greatest rivalry in that league is Lawrence High School vs. Free State High School. Lawrence, the only public high school in town for well over a century, had a history of dominance and a multitude of state titles in all sports, but the size of school couldn’t keep up with the community’s growth. Underwood says the football program -- a legacy of the town that wasn't tied directly to the University of Kansas -- was a big reason that the rapidly growing town took so long to build a second high school. "For years the patrons of LHS and alumni had fought to keep LHS as the town's only high school, in the goal of maintaining its athletic success," he says. Officials broke ground on Free State High School in 1995, which was the last year Lawrence High won a state football title. Free State opened in fall 1997 on the northwest, more suburban side of
town. The intra-city rivalry has been competitive, with the younger school, Free State, leading the series 9-7 going into this season. Brent Maycock, sportswriter for the Topeka Capital Journal since 2000 and previously sports editor for the Emporia Gazette, points to Silver Lake and Rossville, known as the “War on 24” – that is, the highway that runs through both towns, just five miles apart. Both schools have a long history of success across the board. “It doesn’t matter the sport,” Maycock says. Another particularly intense rivalry is Abilene and Chapman for football, he says. Because the football match-up is such a big deal, the schools choose a common charity each year and have a penny war. “They also do some good,” Maycock says.
Sometimes, big rivals may not play each other regularly, but the stakes tend to be high whenever they do meet. That’s the case for Topeka’s Hayden High School, a private Catholic school, and Holton, a rural public school, Maycock says. The sportswriters witnesses healthy competition in all sports, but they say the most intense rivalries tend to occur in basketball and football, probably because they involve the most students and the most fans. Tempers flare, and fans get testy, but there’s often a mutual – if grudging – appreciation. “That’s what makes a rivalry really great – when there’s respect between the schools,” Maycock says.
HEATED KANSAS HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS RIVALRIES Garden Plain vs. Conway Springs Dodge City vs. Garden City Silver Lake vs. Rossville Abilene vs. Chapman Topeka Hayden vs. Holton Lawrence High vs. Lawrence Free State
A night scene in downtown Garden City, where an architect, bank president, arts supporter and politician helped spark a revitalization effort.
Chasing out the Stories of Kansas communities reveal common ground in their pathways to revitalizing their downtowns
By Brian Whepley
Hutchinson is just one Kansas community undergoing or attempting downtown rebirths that take years of commitment and leadership to bring about and sustain. Garden City, Hays, Parsons, Overland Park and Wichita, among others, are working to make and keep their cores vibrant. Each downtown has unique qualities and challenges. Despite variations in size, character, resources and the effects of commercial flight and big-box competition, though, discussions with downtown organizers reveal common steps and strategies for revitalization.
Shoppers and gawkers crowd the sidewalk along antiques row at Avenue B and Main Street in Hutchinson, while across Main, at the Anchor Inn, diners jockey for space at the Mexican food buffet. Kitty-corner, the Apron Strings kitchen store is busy enough to necessitate extra care to avoid brushing against pans and glassware. Musicians stake out corners, and nonprofits and businesses set up tables to share messages and wares. At Avenue A Park, hundreds of residents plop down chairs or sit on the grass to watch the talent show. An art show, ice cream social and bicycle parade draw crowds, too.
Essential ingredients include a partnership with local government, a strong umbrella organization to coordinate downtown efforts and events, and passion paired with a clear plan. Businesspeople must actively lead, and support must be drawn from across the community. And, since downtowns often succeed on the strength of boutiques, other specialty businesses and events that bring foot traffic, don’t forget to make downtown fun. Seitnater has seen many of those steps in Hutchinson.
Certainly, not every day in downtown Hutchinson is as busy as a summer Third Thursday event. But the daily energy and activity from salons, boutiques, parks, bookstores, furniture stores and people frequenting them are miles from the empty sidewalks and 80-percent vacant downtown of a quarter-century ago. The city began working on downtown in the mid-1980s, but efforts gained momentum in the late 1990s with the makeover of Avenue A Park with its gazebo, walk-along creek and interactive water park.
“We had a lot of great leadership in private investment. People improved their own properties and inspired others to make the investment,” he says. “It just kind of evolved. We learned from partnerships with other groups and found that it was good for us to appeal to niches 300 to 400 people at a time (such as the Taste of Hutchinson wine event) and expose them to the stores. One of the biggest things was the proliferation of the arts. Third Thursday evolved from an art walk that we had put together. And new folks moved in and gave some more energy.”
“The park became a symbol that downtown was still valuable and needed to revitalize and stay strong,” says Jim Seitnater, the city’s downtown development director. “That really helped to bring new generations back that hadn’t had much exposure to downtown.”
Although work remains, the multifaceted approach has brought clear signs of health in the Main Street hub centered on Avenues A and B: “Over the past seven or eight years that area has become a stroll district,” Seitnater says. “It has helped transform that into a vital area.”
Public-private partnerships Empty buildings don’t help fill city coffers, nor does a downtown ghost town help recruit new businesses and jobs. Illustrating the stakes, Beverly Schmitz Glass, executive director of Garden City Downtown Vision, says the Menards home improvement chain wanted to look at downtown – which had 23 empty storefronts in 2004 but just two this summer – when gauging whether to open a store in the city, which it eventually did. City government supports downtown Garden City in many ways, improving streetscapes with trees, flowers and other improvements, keeping sidewalks in good shape and helping buy banners, Glass says. The municipal electric utility connects vendors and others at downtown events and has waived deposits when a business moves in. The city brought other resources to bear, using regulations to prevent tattoo parlors, day care centers and other businesses that would diminish the downtown’s commercial flavor. To improve buildings, a minimum-care regulation was approved after
opposition from some property owners who didn’t like being told how to keep up their buildings. Downtown Vision built support among owners who did take care of their properties, making the case that the ordinance would protect their investments and hard work, lower insurance costs and liability risks and make the area more attractive. Seeing support, city government approved the ordinance. “It was tough, but it passed and that made a difference. You have to have a city government that truly believes in the power of Main Street,” Glass says. Overland Park has been working for more than two decades on its downtown, an area between 78th and 83rd streets west of Metcalf Road where Kansas’ second-most-populous city first began. “An overriding city leadership philosophy is they take the long view,” says Jack Messer, director of planning for Overland Park. “They stand back and say, ‘What’s good for the city and how can we reach an end goal?’ And they look at it again.” City codes require new construction to mimic existing buildings, and the city placed a recreation center downtown to draw traffic in the area. A farmers’ market attracts 4,000 to 5,000 on Saturdays, with the city handling vendors and the Downtown Overland Park Partnership overseeing marketing. A city-administered business improvement district collects a levy from businesses and uses the money to support downtown efforts.
There’s space downtown LEFT TO RIGHT: Third Thursday events in downtown Hutchinson bring significant numbers of people to the business district for entertainment, shopping and special events, such as a bike parade earlier this year. A group of scooter riders cruise the streets of downtown Hays, which began to see renewal about a decade ago. Kendall Kepley of Garden City waters the plants and flowers in downtown each morning. He was involved in the planning to spruce up the area with flower pots and then volunteered to do the job himself.
DOWNTOWN WICHITA Many unique districts #
KEY GROWTH DIRECTION
KANSAS LEADERSHIP CENTER AND KANSAS HEALTH FOUNDATION CONFERENCE CENTER
OLD TOWN MAIN STREET
CENTURY II WATERWALK
OLD TOWN WEST
# 1 ARENA
COMMERCE STREET ARTS
OLD TOWN SOUTH
“Businesses and property owners really lead,” says Messer, noting, for example, that merchants started the farmers’ market but the city dedicated resources as the market’s growth required more resources to manage it. “The city is really set up to react and help implement people’s dreams and visions. When they want to sell pie, we want to make it easy to sell pie. That’s what our job is, to work together.”
town stretch in nearly four decades. The center and the Kansas Health Foundation next door share use of the facilities. The hotel, with its street-front restaurant, and the leadership center, with its beckoning glass, are buildings that “live and breathe the street,” says Jeff Fluhr, president of the Downtown Wichita Development Corp. “The activity around the leadership center, people coming to work, people coming for training, it will create a whole new dynamic not only for that block but for Douglas,” he says.
Messer points to the creation of the Downtown Overland Park Partnership as a leadership example. “That particular arrangement is one that downtown owners put together to do things in addition to base services provided by the city,” he says. “They collect fees from themselves to do things like pick up garbage, take care of landscaping, market the area and put on events. It’s a powerful example of organized civic duty and self-reliance in an effort to improve and to achieve a better place.”
But making big changes in downtown doesn’t come without value-laden controversy and conflict. In Wichita for instance, free-market supporters have criticized public incentives for private projects downtown, saying they amount to giveaways to developers and the government picking economic winners and losers. They successfully forced a public vote last year that resoundingly blocked one of the incentives – the developer receiving a portion of the hotel guest tax – that had been promised to the Ambassador Hotel.
Focus and put together a plan Unlike smaller cities, Wichita has, in a sense, several downtowns. The business one radiates from Main Street and Douglas Avenue. Not far away is the Old Town entertainment district of restored warehouses and new development. Jumping back across the train tracks, there’s the Commerce Street arts district, itself in the shadow of Intrust Arena. West across the Arkansas River lies Delano, an arts, retail and entertainment district.
“As we move forward and talk to developers, we’ll advise that we have used the incentive in the past but that you must understand that it can be challenged,” Fluhr says. “Things may not have gone as well as we have anticipated, but we back up and say, What do we need to fine-tune? What is it we may not be seeing?” Downtown projects require multiple tools to pull off, he says, such as historic credits and improvement districts and other special tax mechanisms that can spur community scrutiny. In a healthy way, the hotel vote “heightened the conversation of how do we continue to improve that process, answer the questions and communicate the complexities?” he says.
The downtown master plan approved in late 2010 sought to connect those dots. It envisions Douglas Avenue, stretching east to west from Old Town to Delano, as the spine. By strategically filling empty buildings, adding new ones, fostering residential development and creating an environment conducive to walking, separate areas could gradually be seen as one and thrive together.
The value of planning is exemplified by Parsons, which went from a nearly empty downtown burdened by a traffic-blocking pedestrian mall in 1999 to a Great American Main Street Award in 2006. The community had assembled a group of under-50 residents to study the city’s future, including downtown. When a tornado struck Parsons in 2000 and rendered moot the ‘removeit-or-keep-it’ mall debate, the framework existed to tackle downtown as part of the city’s overall rebuilding. And, in a twist of fortune, the tornado delivered funding.
Block One is the kind of glue that can firm those connections. Entailing the full block on the south side of East Douglas between Broadway and Topeka, the development area includes the new 117-room Ambassador Hotel, which fills the long-vacant, 14-story Union National Bank Building on the Broadway corner of Douglas; the empty Henry’s department store building, which awaits a development plan; and a publicly built parking garage supporting the block.
“There’s more pride in the community because of the effort spent in downtown. Kids are more willing to come back and settle here after college. There’s more hope,” says Carolyn Kennett, the city’s economic development director and a board member of the Kansas Leadership Center.
On the east corner of the block, the Kansas Leadership Center’s headquarters, completed in July, is the first completely new construction along Douglas’ down-
Essential Ingredients for Reviving a
DOWNTOWN PARTNERSHIP WITH LOCAL GOVERNMENT. • STRONG DOWNTOWN UMBRELLA ORGANIZATION. • PASSION MUST BE PAIRED WITH A DETAILED PLAN. • BUSINESSPEOPLE MUST ACTIVELY LEAD. • SUPPORT HAS TO COME FROM THE WIDER COMMUNITY. • DON’T FORGET TO MAKE DOWNTOWN FUN. • LISTENING AND ADDRESSING PROBLEMS SUCH AS THE PERCEPTION OF PARKING SHORTAGES.
A night scene in downtown Hays. 59.
Seek broad support
“We have all those different views and experiences. Just because you are a store owner, you might not know what those customers want,” says Sarah Cearley, who owns Bella Luna Boutique, a maternity, baby and children’s store on Main Street, and recently bought the business next door, Simply Charmed.
Hays’ revitalization story begins with the vision of one person, but it unfolds through the efforts of many. Chuck Comeau, a native of nearby Plainville, chose to base his internationally known interior design and furniture firm, Dessin Fournir, in his hometown. After restoring buildings there, he saw an opportunity to remake Hays’ downtown. That kick started Hays’ renewal more than a decade ago, but others’ support was essential from the start.
Cearley, 25 and a Downtown Hays board member, chose downtown for her first retail business because the area fit its specialty nature. In Garden City, revitalization began “with about five people who said we really have to do something” – an architect, a bank president, a person active in the arts, a politician and a “retailer who had been there forever,” Glass says.
With downtown organizers sharing their vision of a revitalized core, money was raised to buy six “catalyst” buildings, which Comeau’s development company, Liberty Group, renovated, including space for a trafficgenerating restaurant. Gella’s Diner and Lb. Brewing, which fill an extended, once-mothballed stretch of East 11th Street, got their start with a built-in clientele, as Comeau and brewmaster Gerald Wyman had 62 investors.
The retailer built support among downtown merchants, the architect worked to make the area more appealing, the banker found others in the financial and development communities willing to invest, the arts supporter worked in fine and performing arts circles, and the politician hunted for outside help. The outside group turned out to be the Kansas Main Street program, which until its elimination by the state in 2012 provided structure, advice and loan support for communities. Parsons, Overland Park and Hutchinson are Main Street communities, and the state program is reorganizing as a nonprofit.
“People come down for a reason; they own part of the restaurant,” says Kelli Hansen of Liberty Group, adding that the business plan was well thought out and that many saw it as an investment in the community instead of a traditional financial one. The makeup of the board of the Downtown Hays Development Corporation (DHDC) illustrates an intent to be inclusive. Members have come from Fort Hays State University, city government, the medical center and banks, as well as downtown businesspeople.
“Once the merchants were behind it, they took it to the public. At that point, they knew they needed to get local and county government behind it. They went to schools, the Chamber, everybody had to come to the table,” says Glass, recalling how organizers used terminology that others could relate to. “How we ap-
LEFT TO RIGHT: Kaedin Juhl, of Kansas City, sleeps on the bed of a truck as his family sells produce at the farmers’ market in Overland Park. The Kansas Leadership Center & Kansas Health Foundation Conference Center represents the first new construction on downtown Douglas in nearly four decades.
proached business owners was different than how we approached community members. We talked economic development with businesses, and we talked heart and soul of the community with residents.”
tracks into surface parking – and enlisted the centennial-celebrating Downtown Rotary in the effort. The result was a project that moved ahead several years earlier than envisioned, and spurred development along St. Francis Street.
An evolving process
Another case of evolution is the city’s investment policy, which brings not only dollars but also resulting jobs into play when weighing a project and what government might contribute. The policy generally works well, Fluhr says, but “if you’re looking at a residential project, the kind you want, it doesn’t work well in that model as far as jobs created. We didn’t anticipate that. You want the residential because it’s a cornerstone as far as the vibrancy of downtown. It fosters the retail and the service industry. We need to work on what criteria are important.”
Never sitting still is a common theme for downtown organizers. In Garden City, adapting has sometimes involved punting. The difficult, disappointing decision to shelve Third Thursday at the end of this year – after taking a break this spring and summer – came largely because of difficulty persuading businesses to stay open into the evening and fully embrace the event that began in 2012. Glass has followed up with businesses, asking what she should tell residents asking why shops couldn’t stay open after 5:30 p.m. Good answers didn’t come, but something positive is being attempted: Downtown Vision plans focus groups with residents of all ages to ask about downtown shopping. The hope is, with merchants present, to collect better answers that will help in the future. “One of the things I thought was I need to get out of the middle and have consumers talk to retailers,” she says.
In Wichita, the downtown plan is designed for flexibility, Fluhr says. Realizing that development could shrink surface parking for the Intrust Bank Arena, the city and county seized an opportunity to raze a crumbling, environmentally hazardous building along the railroad
Listening is a key element. Like in many downtowns, parking is a common complaint in Overland Park, driven more by the desire to park right near businesses than by an actual shortage, Messer says. Still, the perception was that it was a problem, and that made the issue a problem in itself. And that meant city officials had the responsibility to reach out to those believing parking was a problem and talk with them to determine why they held that view. Overland Park has recently obtained a grant to study parking. Among the possibilities are the city creating more on-street parking close to businesses, city management of private parking to open it to broader use or even to build parking structures. “It would have been easy for the city to say, we don’t have a parking problem,” Messer says. “Even if you know professionally that we don’t have a problem Jacob Neyer and to Anthony here, you have to figure out Miller, how Jacob we are going deal Haberman watch “Jack the Giant Slayer” with that.” in 3-D at The Star Theater in Tribune.
Downtown program’s decisions move to
MAIN STREET By Brian Whepley
When the state of Kansas eliminated funding and staff for the Kansas Main Street program in fall 2012, downtown directors in Main Street cities did what they do best: They organized. “The thing that a lot of people didn’t take into account is that Main Street directors are grass-roots organizers,” says Casey Woods, executive director of Emporia Main Street. “There was never a mindset to quit when the state pulled out.” The program, formerly part of the Department of Commerce, named officers and became a taxexempt nonprofit. The state’s approximately two dozen Main Street communities committed funding, and the group hired a director to handle startup and fund-raising through the end of 2013. The goal is to hire a full-time director and raise money to finance ongoing work. The state program began in 1985 and led to more than $600 million in community reinvestment in its state-run years, Kansas Main Street says. Twentyfive communities became designated Main Street ones, having adhered to the national program’s four tenets of organization, promotion, design and economic restructuring. As a practical matter, those tenets meant communities built consensus, formed organizations to oversee downtown efforts and promotion, underwent training and analyzed their financial and other impacts. A key piece was the Incentives Without Walls revolving loan program, which provided zero-interest matching loans to businesses for façade makeovers, business equipment and other improvements.
Maintaining the loan program, building business and organizational partnerships and providing training are among the new organization’s focuses. “There will be more of a tiered program,” says Woods, the organization’s secretary, noting the different membership levels and services offered. “It will be more effective if you subscribe to all the tiers, but a lot of communities need to dip their toe in. Once people understand that it’s a sustainable process, they buy into the program.” “We are real aware as we build the new organization that it has to be an organization that could appeal to all communities,” says Beverly Schmitz Glass, executive director of Garden City Downtown Vision and president of Kansas Main Street. “You can come to our quarterly trainings, whether a member or not, and you might learn about funds for streetscapes or facades. You might not be ready to apply for Kansas Main Street but will walk away with one good idea that will attract businesses.” Experience has taught downtown advocates that their strongest argument is the economic development the program generates. “We hope that we can take what we’ve done and expand upon it, and at the end of the day we hope to have a public-private partnership that resembles the local organizations and is an engine for progress in the state,” Woods says.
Artist Freyja Field, 13, of Hutchinson, works on her sketching at the Third Thursday in downtown Hutchinson.
Fourth grade student Kailen Oâ€™Brien chases the hogs after feeding them during the morning chores at the Walton Rural Life Center Elementary School.
Melding music, scenery and history, the Symphony in the Flint Hills was performed at Fort Riley this summer. Despite the threat of thunderstorms, the event went on without one drop of rain.
Haromy in the flint hills
CLOCKWISE: James Masoner, 12, of Lenexa, tries to play the trombone at the musical instrument petting zoo, where kids can try out various musical instruments; Members of the Commanding Generalâ€™s Mounted Color Guard demonstrated cavalry riding skills and shooting skills; The audience consisted of those who chose to watch and listen and those who chose to nap and listen to the music on the lawn at Fort Riley; Josh Childs of Junction City plays his guitar to entertain those attending the symphony; Attendees of the event could explore Fort Riley's history and take walks along the river and prairie; The Kansas City Symphony provides the music for the 2013 Symphony in the Flint Hills; 5,000 tickets were sold for the 8th annual event, drawing spectators from across the region; The historic grounds of Fort Riley, celebrating its 160th year since being established, provided a unique setting for the 2013 symphony.
when all the pa r t s come
Together One instrument alone can make beautiful music. But it takes many instruments – winds, strings, percussion -- to perform a symphony. A movement at a time, distinct sounds cohere together in harmony. But the Symphony in the Flint Hills this past summer at Fort Riley fed more than the ears by melding music with both scenery and history. The event once again brought thousands to the region with the nation’s last great expanse of tallgrass prairie. The historic fort, in its 160th year, provided a distinct setting from the pastures of years’ past. The Commanding General’s Mounted Color Guard added to the spectacle by demonstrating cavalry riding skills and shooting skills. Audience members formed a sea of color against the backdrop of white tents. It was more than a symphony. It was a reminder of the beauty we as Kansans can produce from our many disparate parts when we choose, in moments of great opportunity, to act in concert together.
The Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard that performed at the symphony was established in 1992 and provides a link to Fort Riley's historic past. The unit's troopers and horses are decked out in uniforms and equipment of the Civil War era.
OCTOBER SKIES BY KRISTIN GOERING
Kristin Goering was born and raised in Hesston, a rural community in central Kansas. Inspired to pursue art from a young age, she received her fine arts degree with an emphasis in printmaking from Bethel College in 1992. Her early career was spent as a freelance artist and illustrator with Mennonite Press and Hearth Publishing. Her paintings can be found in public and private collections throughout the U.S. and abroad. She currently spends her days painting in her studio in Kansas City, where she resides her husband and two children.
THROUGH ARTIST EYES Through painting I get to explore the beauty and process of color — not only the way colors evolve as one brushstroke builds upon another, but also by watching the colors in the landscape as the day progresses or the seasons change. Through my work I have even developed an appreciation for winter; the mellow gold of winter grasses next to the grayed lavenders of their shadows, trees bared against the blues and grays of winter skies and even brilliant colors of the afternoon sun reflected on snow-covered hillsides. My most recent works feature spring and summer colors from the Kansas prairie and will be on exhibit in the group show “Through Artist Eyes” at the Flint Hills Discovery Center in Manhattan, Sept. 13-January 2014. A coinciding landscape exhibit will be at Strecker-Nelson Gallery. I am constantly looking; looking out the window as I drive, sometimes missing a turn as I imagine how I would paint what I’m seeing. What colors would I use to convey what I feel? What sort of brushwork would I use? In the studio I work from color sketches and photographs made onsite; generally I have numerous references taped around the canvas. At some point in the process, these are discarded or forgotten, and I respond more to the canvas in front of me as the brushwork and colors cause the painting to evolve. What I end up with is not a literal translation but my own interpretation. I am inspired by the land around me, the trees, my garden and even the fruit-filled blue stoneware bowl from my kitchen. My work is often not about one of these places, but about a combination of places in my memory and feelings I had as I experienced them. I strive to find the elements within a landscape or an experience that tethers them in our memories as a reality. These elements are not always visual but when they are, they often have an intensity that borders the unreal. It is these exaggerated colors, patterns and lighting that transform the ordinary into the unforgettable.
WALKING A DIRT ROAD BY WILLIAM SHELDON
I kick up a rock, ask my son, who is six, What’s this look like? Arrow, he says. I was thinking heart. Suddenly, the whispered trill of quail from the brush at our right. We turn watch them make their short way into grass behind the fence. There was a time when, gun or not, my hands came up right eye sighting a point where a bird was about to be. Now, my hands stay but a place in my heart’s beating tries to remember—pick a single bird. Remembers the confusion of the covey’s pattern and the patterns of shot touching nothing. And a boy’s anger. What are they? Tyler asks. I breathe once, choosing carefully my first word.
WILLIAM SHELDON lives with his family in Hutchinson. For the last
22 years, he has taught writing and literature at Hutchinson Community College. His poetry and prose have been published widely in journals and anthologies such as Blue Mesa Review, Columbia, Flint Hills Review, New Letters and Prairie Schooner. He is also the author of three collections of poetry, “Retrieving Old Bones” (Woodley, 2002), “Into Distant Grass” (Oil Hill, 2009), and “Rain Comes Riding” (Mammoth, 2011). “Retrieving Old Bones” was a Kansas City Star Noteworthy Book for 2002 and is listed as one of the Great Plains Alliance’s “Great Books of the Great Plains.” 78.
THE BACK PAGE TIME AND SPACE
I’m tucked beneath the staircase of the newest building in downtown Wichita. The Kansas Leadership Center professional staff has been in this new space since early August, and while the new ‘no walls’ office space is great for collaboration, when it comes to writing, I need some alone time and space. This new space is the evolution of a conversation that began a generation ago when the people of Kansas communicated to the Kansas Health Foundation that if we really want to improve the health of Kansans, then let’s add some value to the leadership capacity of those who show up to do that important work. That led to a series of leadership development efforts under the foundation’s auspices and evolved to a conclusion that when it comes to actually moving the needle on health issues in the civic arena, the capacity of those in the community to lead and effect actual change is pretty much the ballgame. Six years ago, the Kansas Leadership Center set up shop in the oldest working office building in Wichita. The Occidental began life in 1876 in Wichita’s Cow Town era as a hotel for cowboys and cattle barons. That space reeked of history. My penny loafers made the stairs creak, and historical photos on hallway walls were testament to the building’s origins. I was a daydream away from checking my six-shooter at the front desk, pardner.
I was the Heights High yearbook photographer, we dragged the varsity cheerleaders downtown to pose next to the chrome bumper horse sculpture on the building’s west side. Three years later I was in the bank courtyard in a throng of green T-shirted political rally-ers supporting a diminutive 46-year-old former member of the Maize school board wearing glasses and a huge smile. The placards read, “A woman’s place is in the House … and in the Senate” and “Run, Nancy, run.” Back in those pre-driver’s license Douglas-dragging years, my friends and I would board a city bus for the journey downtown. We’d cheer for Wichita Aeros Chris Chambliss and Buddy Bell at then-Lawrence Stadium, listen to records at the new Wichita Public Library and just knock around downtown. The bus to get back home stopped at the corner of Broadway and William, directly in front of the former Henry’s department store, right around the block from me now. So I guess in a tangible way, it’s the space between my ears, in my heart and in my gut that’s really impacted by this physical space where I find myself. Here under the stairs. As others spend time in this new building, gaining knowledge and expanding their capacity to lead, my bet is it’ll happen to them.
This summer, the Kansas Leadership Center moved from the oldest working space in Wichita to the newest. In fact, this new space in which I’m sitting, the Kansas Leadership Center & Kansas Health Foundation Conference Center, is the first new building in downtown Wichita in 40 years.
Mike Matson is Director of Innovative and Strategic Communication for the Kansas Leadership Center.
I’ve been in this space before. I was in Pleasant Valley Junior High when what was then the Fourth Financial Center building went up right across Douglas from where I’m sitting. A glance to the right and the memories wash over me. When
"So what is the truth of Kansas? This is what: Kansas is a complexity of moving points, a land of tilts and shifts, a region full of lives and ideas going this way and that and not infrequently colliding." â€“ travel writer William Least Heat-Moon in "The Great Kansas Passage"
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