Beyond Our Borders

KCUR wants to know more about how Kansas Citians divide themselves and come together in a bi-state metropolitan area.

In the coming months, we will answer this key question: How do these geographic borders affect our daily lives in Kansas City?

KCUR will go Beyond Our Borders and spark a community conversation through social outreach and innovative journalism.

We will share the history of these lines, how the borders affect the current Kansas City experience and what’s being done to bridge or dissolve them.

HOW YOU CAN CONTRIBUTE: Volunteer to host a community listening session with KCUR. We are looking for partners to help us run neighborhood forums that will fuel the stories for Beyond Our Borders. If you are interested in KCUR visiting your community or would like to help us coordinate one of these sessions, please email Ron Jones, KCUR community engagement director, at ron@kcur.org.

STORY IDEAS: If you have tips or story ideas for Beyond Our Borders, reach out to Laura Ziegler, community engagement reporter, lauraz@kcur.org, or Briana O’Higgins, digital content editor, at briana@kcur.org.

BE A PART OF THE DIALOGUE: Use the #KCborders hashtag on Twitter to ask us questions, share Beyond Our Borders stories with your networks, raise community concerns, tell us how we’re doing and suggest opportunities for coverage. We’re all ears.

FOLLOW THE CONVERSATION: Check back at kcur.org/beyondourborders for updates. Follow us on Twitter at @kcur and on Facebook to keep a pulse on the conversation.

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Beyond Our Borders
4:49 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Meet The Eyes And Ears Of Kansas City's Ivanhoe Neighborhood

Florence Hayden (left) and Ida Dockary have kept tabs on their block in the Ivanhoe neighborhood in Kansas City, Mo., by meeting every month since 1980.
Credit Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Ida Dockary and Florence Hayden have seen it all during the 55 years they’ve lived on the 3800 block of the Ivanhoe neighborhood in Kansas City, Mo., just a few doors down from one another.

At 81 and 86 years old, respectively, they were there when Ivanhoe was a thriving residential and business community. They watched as U.S. Highway 71 bisected the neighborhood, eliminating whole blocks of homes. They saw their streets become infested with crime and blight, and change from a mix of races to mostly all black.

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Beyond Our Borders
12:52 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

The Story Behind Kansas City's House Of Cards

As a part of a community effort to eliminate neighborhood eyesores, artists transformed this abandoned apartment building into a house of cards in 2012.
Cara McClain KCUR

Have you ever driven through the Historic Northeast neighborhood in Kansas City, Mo., and seen a building with playing cards instead of windows? 

That's the house of cards, an abandoned apartment building at 7th and Indiana streets, that community members used to create public art. After a couple of years of dormancy, there's now some renewed interest to continue the effort.

Here's the story of how that project began: 

A couple years back, the Historic Northeast neighborhood in Kansas City, Mo., had a problem.

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Central Standard
4:50 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

Transforming Ivanhoe

Ivanhoe is a neighborhood on Kansas City’s east side with a rich history. Though recent decades have brought on hard times, the community, led by spokeswoman Margaret May, has rallied to restore its former glory. Some residents are frustrated by vacant houses on their blocks, while others love the new farmer’s market and point–with a sigh of relief—to reduced crime rates.

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Beyond Our Borders
3:45 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

How Residents Turned Things Around In Kansas City's Ivanhoe Neighborhood

Margaret May helped host KCUR's community listening session with the Ivanhoe neighborhood.
Credit Alyson Raletz / KCUR

Few neighborhoods in Kansas City. Mo., have faced as many problems as the Ivanhoe neighborhood in the city's urban core.

Crime, drug houses, frequent vacancy, and trash buildup have plagued the area for decades, but neighborhood residents have been working towards change. 

Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council Executive Director Margaret May has worked in the neighborhood since 2001, and has seen it blossom as residents like Ida Dockery take ownership and responsibility for cleaning it up.

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Beyond Our Borders
10:15 am
Wed July 2, 2014

3 Challenges Of Transforming A Vacant Lot Into An Edible Landscape

This section of a vacant lot in the Ivanhoe neighborhood is envisioned as the future site of an orchard.
Credit Laura Spencer / KCUR

There are thousands of vacant lots in Kansas City, Mo. In the Ivanhoe neighborhood, from 31st Street to Emanuel Cleaver Boulevard and Prospect to Paseo, the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council owns more than 150.

"Every lot can't be a community garden. Every lot can't be an urban farm. So it's like, what else can we do with these lots?" asks Dina Newman, who's coordinating a project in Ivanhoe called LOTS of Love.

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Beyond Our Borders
11:19 am
Tue July 1, 2014

Neighborhoods In Kansas City's Historic Northeast Move Beyond City Ordinance

Neighborhoods say there are hundreds of homeless camps throughout the woods along historic Cliff Drive.
Credit Laura Ziegler

The Historic Northeast has a concentration of social services such as soup kitchens, shelters and health centers.

And the services tend to draw large numbers of the homeless to the area.

During the past year and a half, residents have been organizing to deal with some of the accompanying issues, like excess trash, sanitation and property damage. 

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Beyond Our Borders
10:37 am
Fri June 27, 2014

School Slated For Demolition In The Historic Northeast Gets Community Support

Community leaders in the Historic Northeast want to preserve the 115-year-old Thacher School off Independence Avenue. But the district is ready to demolish the school, which closed in 2009.
Credit Elle Moxley / KCUR

A rusted metal "No Trespassing" sign hangs on a post outside the boarded-up Thacher School in the Historic Northeast in Kansas City, Mo.

On the other side of the tall fence, the grass is neatly trimmed and the empty parking lot is litter-free. The brick exterior, once a popular canvas for graffiti artists, has been scrubbed mostly clean. A single blue doodle is the only evidence of vandalism neighbors say was once common at the vacant school.

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Beyond Our Borders
9:52 am
Fri June 27, 2014

How School And District Boundaries Shaped Education In Kansas City

Street map of Kansas City showing grade school and high school districts as well as the locations of schools. "Red Lines Indicate High School Boundaries" and "Colored School Districts" are marked in green.
Credit Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library / Kansas City, Mo.

Earlier this year, we embarked on a year-long investigation of the lines that divide and unite us — starting with a look at Troost Avenue.

The road has been used as a border for many things, including neighborhood associations, census tracts, political districts and public schools. 

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Beyond Our Borders
1:56 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Cliff Drive Began With Aristocratic Kansas City Family

This 1903 photo shows a portion of Cliff Drive near an overhang.
Credit Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library / Kansas City, Mo.

Cliff Drive in Kansas City, Mo., hugs the limestone bluffs that separate the stately turn-of-the-century mansions in the Historic Northeast neighborhood from the industry and train tracks of the Missouri River bottoms.

The road was purchased from the estate of Reverend Nathan Scarritt around 1900.

Scarritt and his family were early settlers in Illinois, and moved to Missouri in the mid-1820s as pioneers.

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Arts & Culture
12:15 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Artists Explore Possibilities Of Vacant Lots In Kansas City

LOTS of Love coordinator Dina Newman points to the future site of an orchard in the Ivanhoe neighborhood.
Laura Spencer KCUR

Artists have a reputation for moving into places others don’t – turning areas once full of empty buildings into thriving districts, such as the Crossroads Arts District in Kansas City, Mo. So, it’s not surprising they’d take a look at the thousands of vacant lots and vacant houses in the city, exploring everything from sculpture parks to art galleries on some of the least desirable lots.

Creating a new space with a purpose

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Beyond Our Borders
7:39 am
Wed June 18, 2014

KC Anti-Crime Leader Says The Black Church Needs New Message For Grieving Teens

Anti-crime activist and minister Alvin Brooks at a recent meeting on how the church can better serve siblings of murder victims.
Credit Peggy Lowe / KCUR

The homicide epidemic among young black men on Kansas City’s east side is leaving a generation of grieving teens in its wake, and some in the crime-fighting community feel black churches need to change their message to better help these young people deal with their loss.

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Beyond Our Borders
2:11 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

Three Prized Possessions From Kansas City's Black Archives

A bumper sticker advertising the first documented Juneteenth celebration in Kansas City is a part of the collection honoring the 40th anniversary of the Black Archives of Mid-America. Juneteenth celebrations remember June 19, 1865, the day the last slaves heard about the Emancipation Proclamation.
Credit The Black Archives of Mid-America

The Black Archives of Mid-America has provided a place to learn about African-American history in Kansas City, Mo., for the past four decades.  

And during that time, it has amassed a vast collection of papers, photographs and even physical structures to show what life was like as a black Kansas Citian. 

As the organization celebrates its 40th anniversary this week, we wanted to know more about the types of materials in the collection that started in 1974, when Horace Peterson III founded the Black Archives.

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Beyond Our Borders
5:33 am
Wed June 11, 2014

Program Offers Grief Counseling For Kansas City Teens Affected By Homicide

(From left) Tanee, 14, Makala, 14, Mantez, 17, and Audrey, 17, speak at a forum at a Kansas City public library at 30th and Prospect streets. All have lost siblings to homicide.
Credit (Peggy Lowe/KCUR)

There’s a hush in the community room at the Lucile H. Bluford Public Library at 30th and Prospect streets, something like the quiet in a church just before the service starts.

The two dozen folks gathered here at 6 p.m. on a Monday night in June want to hear from the four sitting as a panel in the front of the room, people that despite their young ages, have years of mourning to share.

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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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Beyond Our Borders
4:14 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

Kansas City's Historic Northeast Balances History With Urban Reality

Lisa Donnici
Credit Alyson Raletz / KCUR

Kansas City’s Historic Northeast is known for its great cuisine and iconic old homes.

But it also grapples with a reputation of vandalism and other crime, says Lisa Donnici, who moved to the Historic Northeast roughly 14 years ago.

Her relationship with the area — made up of six distinct Kansas City neighborhoods that are just south of the Missouri River — goes back much farther, however.

She grew up there as a child, but her mother moved the family away so Donnici could attend schools in the suburbs. Marriage brought her back to the area.

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Beyond Our Borders
11:16 am
Fri June 6, 2014

The Story Behind The Lost Song About Fairyland Park

A commemorative postcard from Fairyland Park features lyrics from the song.
Courtesy Brancato family

Thousands of dancers flocked each week to the Fairyland Park Dance Pavilion in Kansas City, Mo., in the decades between opening day in 1923 and when the park closed in the 1977.  The park was owned by the Brancato family, a family of Italian immigrants and successful business people who'd come to the United States at the turn of the century.

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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
2:42 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

The Best Eats In Kansas City's Historic Northeast

Authentic tacos, African cuisine, and pastries are just some of the diverse food options available in Northeast Kansas City.
Credit Russell Mondy / Flickr-CC

This year, KCUR is embarking on a project called "Beyond Our Borders," an attempt to take a closer look at the cultural and geographical borders in Kansas City.

The first border we are examining is Troost Avenue, which acts as a racial and socioeconomic diving line in Kansas City's urban core. 

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Beyond Our Borders
8:04 am
Thu June 5, 2014

Kauffman Charter School Sets High Bar, But Can It Be Replicated?

A student at the Kauffman School shows his work to Principal Hannah Lofthus. Lofthus, who has been principal for three years, will transition to the school's chief executive officer this summer.
Credit Elle Moxley / KCUR

It’s a lofty goal for any charter – be the premiere public school in Missouri and a model for the rest of the country.

And for a new school, it’s especially bold. Yet that’s been the vision of the Kauffman School since before it opened.

This week while other metro-area kids were enjoying that first taste of summer, sixth graders at the Kauffman School were sitting in science class. It's quiet except for the scratch of pencil on paper.

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Community
5:30 am
Tue June 3, 2014

Highway 71 And The Road To Compromise

Mamie Hughes in May took a walk on the Mamie Hughes Bridge at Meyer Boulevard and looked down on Highway 71.
Credit Suzanne Hogan / KCUR

Mamie Hughes, 85, stands in the middle of a bridge that’s named after her, and she marvels at the power of the road below. The power of Highway 71.

“Sometimes I just like to stand here and look and watch the traffic,” she says as cars and semis zoom underneath. “Seeing how much goes, and it’s just kind of fun.”

The Mamie Hughes Bridge crosses Highway 71, or Bruce R. Watkins Drive as it’s also known, at Meyer Boulevard.

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Tell KCUR
3:24 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

Why Kansas Citians Are Fed Up With Highway 71

How has U.S. Highway 71 helped or hurt Kansas City, Mo.? Chime in on Twitter with the #TellKCUR hashtag.
Credit Alyson Raletz / KCUR

U.S. Highway 71 in Kansas City, Mo., is here to stay.

But that doesn’t mean Kansas Citians are happy about it.

When we asked this week: “How has Highway 71 helped or hurt Kansas City?” some listeners, tweeters, Facebookers and callers praised the highway’s convenience for being a main north-south thoroughfare in the metropolitan area.

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Beyond Our Borders
10:25 am
Fri May 30, 2014

Years Ago, Summer Meant (Almost) Everyone Headed To Fairyland Park

A roller coaster at Fairyland Park cost 10 cents a ride.
Courtesy photo Crawford Family Collection- Judy Long

  

From the 1920s through the 1960s, summertime in Kansas City meant a thrilling trip to Fairyland Park.

The 80-acre amusement park in Kansas City, Mo., offered daring rides, an outdoor dance pavilion, a large swimming pool, and later, a drive-in movie theater.

As we move into the summer of 2014, we take a trip back to the heyday of a local summer ritual for many, but not all, Kansas City residents.

Every child's dream

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Beyond Our Borders
2:42 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

Cycling Group Gets Women Pedaling East Of Troost

The female cycling club, Sisters That Are Riding Strong, takes a 10-mile ride every Sunday. It sets off from the Southeast Community Center, at 4201 E. 63rd Street Trafficway in Kansas City, Mo.
Credit Courtesy photo / Denesha Snell

Denesha Snell remembers the first time her cycling club rode through Swope Park and down the Paseo.

"There was a guy in the park, and he said, 'Somebody told me there was a bunch of black women on bikes.' And he didn't believe it. We rode past him, and his mouth dropped to the floor because he could not believe it," says Snell. "The myth is that we don't work out and we don't exercise."

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Tell KCUR
1:26 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

Tell KCUR: How Has Highway 71 Helped Or Hurt Kansas City?

How has U.S. Highway 71 helped or hurt Kansas City? Tweet us with the #TellKCUR hashtag.
Credit KCUR

U.S. Highway 71 has become one of the most prominent north-south arteries of the Kansas City metropolitan area.

But when it was built on the east side of Kansas City, Mo., in the 1990s, the construction sparked controversy because of the way it bisected existing neighborhoods.  

Earlier this year, when we asked you what were Kansas City’s biggest dividing lines, Highway 71 emerged as one of them.

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Community
3:55 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

How Long Does It Take To Get To Kansas City's Major Employers On Public Transit?

Kara McGowan, of Kansas City, Mo., takes two buses to her children's day care facility every day before hopping on two more buses to work.
Credit Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Earlier this month, we ran a story about the accessibility to jobs in the Kansas City metro by public transportation. It takes Kara McGowan, of Kansas City, Mo., more than 90 minutes to get to her job in Westport once she drops off her children at day care.

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Transportation
8:43 am
Tue May 20, 2014

Kansas City Public Transit Among Nation's Worst In Connecting Workers To Jobs

Kara McGowan takes two buses to Operation Breakthrough where her kids go to day care, then two more to her job.
Credit Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Just after 7:15 a.m. in the morning, Kara McGowan rushes out of her house, carrying her baby, Airis, on one arm, a bulging diaper bag on the other. Her four-year-old, Addison, trails behind.

"We got eight minutes. Come on!" McGowan pleads.  She doesn't want to miss her bus. She doesn't have a car, so her only option to get her kids to daycare and to herself to her job as a receptionist in Westport is to take public transit.

McGowan's bus rolls away from the intersection before she and the children arrive, so she reroutes them to catch the 12th Street bus across town.

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Beyond Our Borders
4:01 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

How One Kansas City Neighborhood Opened Doors, And The Leaders Who Called It Home

Google Street View shot of Sheraton Estates, a neighborhood on the east side of Kansas City, Mo., has been home to many influential African-Americans in the community.
maps.google.com

Sheraton Estates was the first place in Kansas City, Mo., where African-Americans sought out to build new homes south of 27th Street. The suburban-style subdivision was built in 1957. It was marketed to, and, historically, home to many influential African-American leaders in the city.

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Beyond Our Borders
8:00 am
Fri May 16, 2014

Data Maps Show Troost As Racial, Economic And Educational Divide

Credit Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service / University of Virginia

As KCUR examines how Kansas Citians divide themselves in our Beyond Our Borders series, we wanted to look at the demographics of the areas where we are focusing our reporting.

Earlier this year, we asked the community which lines were the most divisive in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Troost Avenue was cited as one of the most prominent racial and socioeconomic borders

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Beyond Our Borders
1:52 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Prospect MAX Bus Decision Expected From Court Soon

An approval of a transit plan involving the streetcar and a new MAX bus line would send a taxing district question to voters.
Credit Kyle Gradinger / Flickr--CC

Any day now, Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Marco Roldan is expected to hand down a decision that would allow an election to create a special transit taxing district.

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Community
9:43 am
Wed May 14, 2014

Then And Now: Pictures Show Changes In KC's Blue Hills Neighborhood

Credit Suzanne Hogan / Google Street View 2011 / KCUR

It's been three years since the Google Street View camera made its way through the streets of the Blue Hills neighborhood between Prospect Avenue and Paseo Boulevard, and 47th and 63rd Streets.

In that time, as the community has tried to shake the stigma of being filled with blighted homes, the community has seen a lot of visible changes. (See how Blue Hills has been trying to change its reputation.)

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