The ART SQUAD goes to Hollywood!

The ART SQUAD goes to Hollywood!

Actually they didn’t but I did go to the NeighborWorks Conference in Los Angeles last month to give a presentation about CHWC’s Art Squad and all the wonderful things they do for our neighborhood but lets start from the beginning.

It all started nearly 4 years ago when I took the Community Organizer job at Community Housing of Wyandotte County here in Kansas City, Kansas. My goal from the first day was to engage youth in our community through the Arts and to help them use Art as a tool to engage their community. First there were after school Art classes about creativity, technology and self-expression. We started an Art club and quickly had a small following.

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Transforming a neighborhood

Great story about the changes in the St Peters/Waterway neighborhoods in Kansas City, KS. About some of the amazing folks that live there and the organizations that have provided resources and support to allow the citizens that live there to make changes in what they want their neighborhoods to be. A true story about new beginnings and the hope of a bright future!

Observations in Philadelphia

Just returned from a 3 day visit to Philadelphia by way of a program sponsored by NeighborWorks America. It’s a peer to peer site visit to learn more about how other organizations operate. Some organizations function more like construction companies or property managers providing affordable housing to urban and rural populations that are otherwise underserved primarily because of their location or their per capita income. I chose the New Kensington Community Development Corporation(NKCDC) in Philadelphia because of the neighborhoods they represent and their emphasis on community organizing.

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It’s About Creating An Environment

Ever wonder about why you feel more comfortable in  some places then in others? Why some neighborhoods feel more friendly or safe then others? Why politicians always have pictures of flags, babies, and seniors on their brochures? Your favorite date place has soft lights, maybe candles and friendly service? Offices have cubicles or some churches smell of incenses, or even why policemen wear uniforms. Its all about creating an environment, establishing a sense of order, who the players are and what their role is.

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Code for America in KCK

Code for America? Whats that and what are they doing in Kansas City, Kansas? Well let’s start with who or what is Code for America?  The Washington Post described Code for America as “the technology world’s equivalent of the Peace Corps or Teach for America.” The article goes on to say, “They bring fresh blood to the solution process, deliver agile coding and software development skills, and frequently offer new perspectives on the latest technology — something that is often sorely lacking from municipal government IT programs. This is a win-win for cities that need help and for technologists that want to give back and contribute to lower government costs and the delivery of improved government service.” So what are they doing in KCK? To be fair the team is actually working in KCMO and KCK.  Both cities are lucky to have been assigned Code for America’s “A”team, Andrew, Alison and Ariel. They will work as a team conducting listening and work sessions with community leaders and neighbors and with city government in a collaboration to develop a web application to solve a civic problem identified by the city in their project proposals.

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