Sylvia Maria Gross

Reporter, Producer & Co-Host of KC Currents

Sylvia Maria Gross co-hosts and produces KC Currents, an award-winning weekly news magazine that covers news and culture in Kansas City’s diverse communities. Her stories have aired nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace, The World and Studio 360. Gross grew up in New York City, Brazil and the suburbs of Washington, DC. She studied English at Yale University, and then spent a year researching arts education in Brazil on a Fulbright grant. When she returned from Brazil, she taught middle school math and English while completing a master's degree in journalism at Columbia University in New York City. She reported in New York about education and culture before moving to Kansas City in 2004.

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Central Standard
4:57 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Reflecting On The Civil Rights Act Of 1964

Civil Rights March in Alabama
Credit Peter Pettus

July 2nd is the 50th anniversary of The Civil Rights Act of 1964. This historic piece of legislation outlawed race based discrimination, enfranchised voter registration rights, and desegregated businesses, public spaces, and schools.

On Wednesday's Central Standard, Rev. Nelson "Fuzzy" Thompson and Anita Dixon share their unique first hand experiences with the Civil Rights Movement in and around Kansas City, then and now.

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Central Standard
2:52 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Kansas City's Esther Honig Investigates Photoshop, Gains International Attention

Esther Honig sent a portrait of herself to Photoshop professionals worldwide. Here is a Sri Lankan designer's adaptation of the portrait.
Credit Esther Honig, Before and After

A young Kansas City journalist named Esther Honig, who contributes to KCUR, had an idea for a project.

She sent a simple, straightforward portrait of herself to Photoshoppers around the globe with a request to make her beautiful. She wanted to see what that would mean to people in different parts of the world, investigating how culturally specific definitions of beauty might play into the results.

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Central Standard
1:05 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Experts Say Dark Humor Has Always Been Part Of Kid Lit

Padron Me! by Daniel Miyares was published by Simon & Schuster.
Credit Simon & Schuster, Daniel Miyares

Local children's author and illustrator Daniel Miyares visited the Central Standard studio to discuss his recent picture book, Pardon Me!

The book, aimed at 4-7 year-olds, tells the story of a bird on a perch who is visited by several of his supposed swamp friends until the frustrated critter is so crowded he can't take it any more. In the end, the bird is (spoiler alert!) finally left alone, only to be eaten by a crocodile who finishes his meal with a burp. "Pardon me," says the crocodile.  

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Community
4:21 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Kansas City Woman's Project On Beauty Standards Goes Viral

Argentina
Esther Honig estherhonig.com

This week, KCUR freelancer Esther Honig had a giant shock when her project Before & After, a cross-cultural examination of beauty, went viral.

Honig sent an unaltered image of herself to freelance graphic artists in more than 25 countries and asked them to perform one task: make her beautiful. The result is more than 40 images that together tell a complex story of global standards of beauty. And the response has been enormous.

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Central Standard
3:45 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

The Awkward Business of Surveilling The Nelson Shuttlecocks

James Hymes, one of the guards at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, asks visitors to stay off the Shuttlecocks.
Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Kansas City residents have been known to, as Michael Cross likes to say, “cuddle,” on the grounds of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

What many of these lovers may not realize, is that there are always guards monitoring the museum and the lawn, both on foot and via video cameras.

Michael Cross, manager of security facilities and visitor services for the Nelson-Atkins, has been keeping an eye on the grounds for seven years.

“As long as nobody’s interfering with the artwork we try to leave people alone,” Cross says.

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Central Standard
2:06 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Movie Critics: Time Loopers

The current Tom Cruise blockbuster Edge of Tomorrow is the latest example of time warp cinema, a story with loops in time and narrative. Other examples include Sliding Doors, Donnie Darko, and, of course, Groundhog Day.

On Friday's Central Standard, Russ Simmons and the film critics return to review flicks currently showing at your local cineplex, and discuss the best time loop films.

Guests:

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Central Standard
3:26 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Glore Psychiatric Museum Is A Missouri Mental Health Time Capsule

Devices like "fever cabinets" (on view at the Glore Psychiatric Museum) were used to treat mental illness before medical advances rendered them obsolete.
Credit Gina Kaufmann, KCUR

On Thursday's Central Standard, we looked back at the history of intervention in mental health crises, going all the way back to the 19th century. 

The Glore Psychiatric Museum (formerly known as State Lunatic Asylum #2) captures both the treatments of the past and the controversies they sparked. Treatments in mental health hospitals once ranged from a "bath of surprise," which disrupted thought-patterns by dropping the patient into a shockingly cold bath, to lobotomies and fever cabinets.

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Central Standard
3:32 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Counting Kansas City's Pollen

Charles Barnes in his laboratory at Children's Mercy.
Credit Cody Newill / KCUR

On Wednesday's Central Standard, we speak with the person who can explain why you've been sneezing more than usual. Charles Barnes tells us everything we ever wanted to know about pollen, especially how much of it is floating through our air.

Guests:

  • Charles Barnes, Director of the Allergy and Immunology Laboratory at Children's Mercy Hospital
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World Cup KC
7:55 am
Thu June 12, 2014

Brazilians In Kansas City Watch The World Cup With Divided Hearts

David dos Santos is teaching his three-year-old daughter Ariana the best of Brazilian and American soccer.
Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

As the FIFA 2014 World Cup kicks off in Brazil, we have the first installment in a series checking in on some of Kansas City’s international communities and how they’re cheering their home teams from afar.

It’s been a rocky path to the World Cup for host country Brazil: there were questions about whether the stadiums would be ready; ongoing crime concerns; and mixed emotions from Brazilians. 

Many Brazilians in Kansas City are a little sad to be watching the championship tournament from a continent away, but some are quite ambivalent about the games.

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Sports
2:40 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

The Best Places To Watch The World Cup In Kansas City

An estimated 12,000 people gathered in Kansas City's Power and Light district to watch the United States take on Ghana in the 2010 World Cup.
Credit dustjelly / Flickr-CC

As the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off this week in Brazil, many soccer fans in Kansas City will be cheering for the U.S. men's team and Sporting KC players Matt Besler and Graham Zusi.

But many other Kansas Citians will cheer on teams from around the globe.

For optimum World Cup viewing, we've rounded up a list of local places to go for a more international soccer experience:

Brazil: Taste of Brazil Market, 25 E. 3rd St, Kansas City, Mo. 

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Central Standard
4:32 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Disparity In Kansas City Playground Distribution

Children prefer playgrounds with more than two colors.
Credit Listener42 / https://flic.kr/p/662EaZ

The memories of our childhood playgrounds remain with many of us as adults. A recent study of Kansas City's parkland revealed that low-income areas have fewer playgrounds in their parks than high-income areas.

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Central Standard
8:40 am
Mon June 9, 2014

Low-Income Neighborhoods In Kansas City Have More Parks, Fewer Playgrounds

Dion Hardiman goes five miles from home to take his daughters to Loose Park, because they love the high slides and sand pit.
Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Recently, Kansas State University researchers visited every park in Kansas City, Mo., to analyze the distribution of parks and park amenities throughout the city.

They found low-income neighborhoods, including Kansas City's east side, have fewer playgrounds than high-income neighborhoods. That’s in spite of having a higher concentration of parkland in those same neighborhoods. Researchers studied 219 parks and about 12,000 acres of parkland.

Green space in low-income areas

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Central Standard
3:12 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

Historic Northeast Neighborhoods: People, Art, Food

The Northeast Concourse Fountain is a gathering place in the historic northeast neighborhood of Kansas City, Mo.
Credit Charvex / Wikimedia Commons

As part of KCUR's Beyond Our Borders series, Central Standard met with a handful of residents of Kansas City's historic Northeast to hear about the people and projects shaping the future of that part of town. In particular, artist Hector Casanova told us about his project working with students to transform a boarded-up old school building in the neighborhood by treating its surfaces as a giant canvas.

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Central Standard
3:20 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

Highway 71: Connecting The Metro, Dividing Neighborhoods

Highway 71 was envisioned as "less than a freeway, more than a parkway."
Credit Tim Samoff / Flickr, Creative Commons

 

Highways connect people and places with a speed we've come to take for granted. But highways also have a history of dividing and sometimes nearly obliterating the very communities they intersect.

Perhaps the most controversial example of this phenomenon in Kansas City is U.S. Highway 71. 

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Central Standard
4:15 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Kansas City Crime Writer Shares Four Chilling Murder Locations

An old rundown barn is among the settings crime author Joel Goldman uses to stage murder scenes.
Credit Keva999 / Flickr--CC

Fourth-generation Kansas Citian Joel Goldman has set all of his crime novels in the Kansas City area, in places like the Country Club Plaza, the Quindaro neighborhood, and the historic Northeast neighborhood.

These places aren’t just settings. Goldman considers them characters in his novels. Strawberry Hill, the Kansas City, Kan. neighborhood where many Serbians and Croatians settled, is one of the backdrops in his book Shakedown.

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Central Standard
2:45 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

Glenn North: Fostering Raw Self-Expression At 18th And Vine

Poet Glenn North has held court at the American Jazz Museum's Blue Room for the past decade.
Credit Terance Williams / Facebook

When Glenn North read a poem at the grand opening for the American Jazz Museum in 1997, something clicked.

From that moment on, the poet and the museum grew in tandem.  In 2004, North officially joined the museum's staff, establishing a nationally recognized spoken word scene at the museum's Blue Room.

North recently left his post as education manager and poet-in-residence. He plans to finish his master's degree and focus on his poetry.

Upon his departure, Central Standard invited him to sit down for a talk. Among the highlights:

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Central Standard
12:25 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Does Our City Bring Strangers Together, Or Keep Them Apart?

This crowd on Kansas City's westside probably assembled lots of strangers; where else does that happen, and how often?
Credit Jean / Flickr, Creative Commons

A recent article in the New York Times compiled a growing body of evidence suggesting that the more frequent our interactions with strangers, the happier we tend to be. The findings apply to introverts and extroverts alike. In response to the enthusiasm around that article, Central Standard asked whether the people of Kansas City encounter strangers often enough in their day-to-day lives. Does Kansas City's built environment facilitate or prohibit these kinds of interactions?

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Central Standard
3:36 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Kansas Pride: Loving A Big State With A Big Reputation

Kansas: It can sometimes be quite pretty in its own subtle way.
Credit Anita Wood / Flickr, Creative Commons

Kansans sometimes get picked on. They've heard every joke in the book about Toto and Dorothy, and they're not amused.

On Central Standard, we met with two people whose love for the state is both unconventional and all-consuming. They discuss the many rewards that await those willing to explore a state so often dismissed as empty and flat, suggesting ideas for enjoyable daytrips (see below).  They also offer suggestions for how Kansas can overcome some of its less flattering stereotypes. 

Guests:

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Central Standard
1:12 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

Mother's Day: A Radical History, Plus Kansas Citians' Stories

Flowers are a nice gesture on Mother's Day, but there's more to this holiday than meets the eye.
Credit julie / Flickr, Creative Commons

You could be forgiven if you happen to believe that Mother's Day is a holiday invented by florists, candy stores and greeting card companies. In point of fact, however, this holiday has a hard-won, grassroots history that puts today's celebrations in context.

On Central Standard, a historian introduced us to three women who lobbied for a mother's day of sorts: the first out of a desire for peace, the second to decrease infant mortality through education, and the third in service of her own professional yearnings.

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Central Standard
12:38 pm
Wed May 7, 2014

Diversity Among Teachers In Kansas City

Our nation's classrooms are gaining diversity; is there a need for teachers to reflect that reality?
Credit US Department of Education / Flickr, Creative Commons

Recent studies from the Center for American Progress and the National Education Association point to what some are calling a diversity gap in American schools. While student populations are growing more and more racially diverse, the teaching pool isn't changing at a pace that reflects that reality.

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History of Sports
6:00 am
Fri May 2, 2014

KU Breaks Ground On New Center To House Naismith’s Rules Of Basketball

The 1899 University of Kansas basketball team, with Dr. Naismith in the back, right.
Credit Wikimedia / CC

Construction begins Friday on the DeBruce Center, a three-story building that will house the original rules for basketball, typed up by the game’s inventor, James Naismith, in 1892.

 The DeBruce Center will be connected to Allen Fieldhouse by a second-story walkway.

University of Kansas associate athletics director Jim Marchiony says the rules will be part of a display that tells the story of the sport of basketball and KU’s connection to it.

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Obituary
10:13 am
Thu May 1, 2014

Accordion Legend Don Lipovac Remembered In Kansas City

Credit Photo courtesy of Laura Krzyzanowski.

Musician Don Lipovac, internationally recognized for his prowess on the accordion, will be buried Thursday in Mount Calvary Cemetery in Kansas City, Kan.

The 79-year-old died on April 26.

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Programming
8:58 am
Thu January 23, 2014

KC Currents And Central Standard To Merge

Beginning this week, KCUR will no longer broadcast the newsmagazine KC Currents on Thursday mornings at 10 a.m., Sundays at 5 p.m. or Mondays at 8 p.m. But this isn’t the end for the nine-year-old weekly program and its community-focused content.

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KC Currents
7:13 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Kansas City Dialect, Labeling Sustainable Foods, Quindaro Quilts

A quilt by Nedra Bonds at UMKC Miller Nichols Library.
Credit Laura Spencer / KCUR

What Does The Kansas City Dialect Sound Like?

There is a general myth that Midwesterners, or even Kansas Citians specifically, speak without an accent. But that is not the case. Linguistic distinctions in Midland speech exist, and have been changing, perhaps without us even noticing, over the past 50 years.

TALK: Understanding Regional Accents

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KC Currents
10:01 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Do Kansas Citians Talk Funny?

Credit DavidGoehring / Flickr -- Creative Commons

Is there such a thing as a Kansas City accent or dialect? Researchers at the University of Missouri are looking into it.

Whether you’re from here, or relocated from somewhere else, are there things you notice that only people from here seem to say?

On KCUR's news program KC Currents, we explore these questions and other research being conducted on regional accents.

GUESTS:

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Education
7:43 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Kansas Citians React To Proposal For School District Overhaul

A new proposal for Kansas City Public Schools would dismantle the current system in favor for largely autonomous, non-profit schools.
Credit bigstock.com

People who care about public schools in Kansas City are reacting to a recently released plan from consulting group CEE-Trust to transform the district.

While questions remain about the process by which the consultants were hired, Kansas Citians are now debating the merits of the proposal, which is unlike anything any other school district in the country has tried.

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Central Standard
4:00 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Teaching Handwriting In The 21st Century

The Kansas Board of Education recently re-affirmed the teaching of cursive in Kansas schools. In this day and age, is this still an important skill or something that should fall by the wayside?

On today's Central Standard, Sylvia Maria-Gross discusses the how and the why behind teaching handwriting in schools.

Guest:

  • Kindel Turner Nash, Assistant Professor of Urban Teacher Education at UMKC
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Education
1:00 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Consultants Propose ‘Non-Profit’ District For Kansas City Public Schools

A fifth grade classroom at James Elementary in Kansas City Public Schools. All schools would be turned over to non-profit management under CEE-Trust's proposal.
Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

The education consulting group CEE-Trust (Cities for Education Entrepreneurship Trust) presented a proposal Monday afternoon to restructure Kansas City Public Schools. The consultants recommended a small, state-run district office which would set up and monitor a network of largely autonomous non-profit schools. 

These schools could be started and operated by current school administrators and teachers, local non-profits, or surrounding districts.

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Education
7:47 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Consultant's Proposal For Kansas City Public Schools To Be Unveiled

Troost Elementary School is one of the KCPS schools that could be transformed by the new proposal.
Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Kansas Citians will get a glimpse of what might be in store for Kansas City Public Schools Monday afternoon when a consultant’s recommendations for the unaccredited district will be presented to the Missouri State Board of Education.

State education commissioner Chris Nicastro has said she’s looking for a major transformation of the state’s chronically under-performing districts.  In August, the board hired consultant CEE-Trust to research the history and status of school reform in Kansas City, and effective practices from around the country.  

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KC Currents
8:19 am
Fri January 10, 2014

Undocumented Youth, Concealed Carry, Alvin Sykes

Edher Palafox was co-captain of his football team at Shawnee Mission South High School in Overland Park, Kan.
Credit Courtesy / Palafox family
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