I happened upon a Facebook post today from a longtime family friend. He posted about the East Ninth Project asking “how many homeless families would that money wasted on this project for Hipsters help?” After my expected initial confusion at this question (I definitely don’t consider myself a Hipster), I had time to reflect on some of the really positive outcomes this project will have on the community.
1) The East Ninth Project benefits families with children. When our nephew was born, my husband and I would take him for walks to Downtown Lawrence in his stroller. When you’re pushing a sleeping one-month-old, you notice every single crack and bump. Some parts of the sidewalk between Delaware and Massachusetts Streets are completely reduced to rubble, and we were forced to walk with him in the street.
2) The East Ninth Project benefits those on bikes. It provides a safe route from Delaware to Downtown Lawrence for adults and children at any skill level to ride their bikes without having to be on the street with cars. This is an important benefit, as it means that a five-year-old who just graduated from training wheels won’t have to bike down the street, shared with delivery trucks and other vehicles. And when that 5-year-old inevitably falls off his or her bike, they’re not going to be met with a face full of gravel from the deteriorated sidewalks.
3) The East Ninth Project benefits people with disabilities. Right now, I don’t believe there are any ADA accessible sidewalks or paths along this stretch of 9th Street until you get all the way Downtown. Neighbors in wheelchairs have no safe way to get Downtown without a car. This project will provide a fully ADA accessible path.
4) The East Ninth Project benefits the environment and health. Reducing the carbon footprint of East Ninth Street by providing safe walking and biking routes improves the air quality in the neighborhood and encourages healthy lifestyles. With each connecting path and riding option in Lawrence, individuals are much more likely to choose to bike, and yes, walk, versus choosing the car default.
These are only a few of the numerous benefits this project has. . . I’d say those benefits impact far more than just “the Hipsters” in the neighborhood.
To speak to the comparison my friend brought up, transitional and affordable housing is important to me. One of our good friends found permanent housing with the support of the homeless shelter and other local organizations. Previous City Commissions approved tax breaks for developers, sacrificing revenue, which could have otherwise been contributed to a budget that would have provided greater resources for affordable housing. Reversing these type of decisions will help. We also need to support efforts as part of the budget process to make sure that careful planning and consideration is given to housing. But that is the thing, we have budgets, we have planning around priorities, and every issue can’t be all or nothing. Thankfully we seem to have a commission who has taken the housing issue seriously while understanding that there has to be a balance and process.
After attending 15 months of meetings revolving around the East Ninth project (which is literally in my front yard), it is my belief that this is the best plan for the area and will provide a benefit to the largest population of people, both inside East Lawrence and outside. When my husband and I moved to our house in East Lawrence nearly 10 years ago, I was disappointed with the minimal maintenance of city infrastructure in our neighborhood. East Lawrence streets have been left with pot holes far after those in other parts of the city have been fixed. New York Street in particular north of 9th is one of the roughest bike and car rides in city.
I have lived in Lawrence my entire life and for the first time in my memory, aside from re-bricking a street that is now also in poor shape, the City is investing a large sum of money in East Lawrence infrastructure improvements. This is long overdue.
In light of some recent characterizations made about “new” people running for election to the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association Board and because there isn’t a forum to let my extended neighbors know who I am and what I want to contribute to the neighborhood, I thought it might be warranted to blog about my history, my love for East Lawrence, and what I hope to contribute.
First, a little bit about my history:
Below are a few examples of things I would try to bring to the table:
- Working cooperatively with the City to establish protections for residents who have concerns about being priced out of their homes
- Reaching out to all our neighbors to make sure that they feel comfortable sharing their opinions about neighborhood issues
- Treating everyone (city officials, neighbors, visitors, etc.) with respect
- Mobilizing volunteers to find ways to help neighbors who are struggling or need some sort of help that we’re able to provide
- Encouraging young people in the neighborhood to get involved by providing additional volunteer opportunities (possibly an “Adopt a grandparent” style program)
- Making meetings manageable for all who are interested in attending and having their voices heard
- Making all agendas and meeting minutes available electronically
- Focusing on and shaping positive change as we encounter it
- Continuing to build on the great print and email newsletters we currently have
- Encouraging continued active participation in City Advisory Boards, Committees and Task Forces
- Possible expansion of the use of our website, Facebook page and Twitter accounts (not placing this duty solely on the neighborhood coordinator, but spreading the responsibility among multiple board members)
East Lawrence is great community and ELNA has been a significant part of making it what it is. I hope to work as part of the board to continue that tradition and build on it.
Because of the desirable location, rich cultural history and deep-seeded love of our neighborhood, East Ninth Street, between Massachusetts Street and Delaware Streets received a prestigious ArtPlace Grant in 2014. More information about the ArtPlace Grant can be found HERE. Essentially, this Grant provides $500,000 for public art aspects (administration, design, fabrication, and installation) along 9th Street. In addition to the $500,000 Grant, the City of Lawrence has pledged approximately $3 Million toward additional design and construction surrounding the project.
For a neighborhood who has seen little infrastructure improvement in years, this is a huge opportunity to better the neighborhood and make it a desirable location to live for years to come.
In a memo dated August 4th, 2015, the City of Lawrence announced the final artists for the project. They are:
East Ninth Artists
The deadline for the Associate Artist program was August 3rd and selections for that program should be coming soon.
The design phase is just beginning and the excitement for the project is building. A website and Facebook group were recently started to encourage support for the project among neighbors and other stakeholders. If you are interested in the project and showing your support, please visit our website at www.eastninth.com or our new Facebook Page – Community and Culture on East Ninth.
The website includes a comprehensive FAQ page with information about the project, which is very helpful in getting caught up with the process.
We would love to hear your thoughts and what you’re most looking forward to about the project.
6 News Lawrence Story – August 3, 2015
Lawrence Kansas Live BLOG
After almost a six-month hiatus, the Lawrence Farmer’s Market is back this weekend. This is great news to those of us who prefer local, seasonal produce to what is available year-round at the grocery stores.
My husband Bryan came to appreciate asparagus late in life, at about age 30, and now he just cannot wait for the local asparagus season. For the last two years, he started asking around February if asparagus is coming soon. He’s like a little child waiting for Christmas and Santa Claus. “Is it here yet? Is it here yet?” he’ll keep asking. Even though we could be buying asparagus in December or January, store-bought asparagus tastes nothing like the local batches that start becoming available at the farmer’s market in early April. Farmer’s markets help us reconnect with where our food comes from and the cycles of Mother Nature that make it possible.
Here in Kansas, the market starts out slow with salad greens, spinach, asparagus and maybe a few peas. Following asparagus, if there isn’t a late cold snap, we’ll get rhubarb. After rhubarb, strawberries and other berries come in. Late June and definitely by the Fourth of July marks the beginning of local tomatoes. Then come all the other hot weather produce, cucumbers, peppers and eggplant. Late summer gives us a bounty of watermelons, cantaloupe and another favorite of Bryan’s, the charantais melon. Last but not the least, sweet corn arrives, oh the wonderful local sweet corn!
Most Americans aren’t aware of the fact that the majority of the produce we get in the grocery stores travels an average of 1,500 miles. The distance alone is proof that those vegetables and fruits cannot possibly be fresh. When the farmer’s market is in season, the produce available there is at most a day old. That is a considerable difference in freshness. That means a huge difference in flavor and nutrition, not to mention the local produce undoubtedly lasts longer in our fridges.
In the last few years, there have been some adventurous people, who have experimented with a strictly local diet where they only eat foods that are grown within a 100- to 150-mile radius (For more information go to: http://100milediet.org/). That diet may be easy to follow in places such as California or Florida but is a little difficult in Kansas. I’m not advocating that we all try to do that, but using more local, seasonal ingredients in the meals we prepare will make the food taste a lot better and cooking a little more interesting and fun. Plus, it’s a way to help out the local economy and make new friends with the people who grow our food.
The local farmers are great resources in cooking as well. When you come across an interesting vegetable or fruit, ask the farmer about it. Chances are, you’ll not only come away with great ingredients, but brand new recipes, too.
To find more information about the Lawrence market, go to www.lawrencefarmersmarket.com. There are more than 36,000 local markets across the country. If you want to find a farmer’s market near you, you can check out www.localharvest.org, which is a phenomenal resource of local producers and markets.
Happy local eating, everyone!