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

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

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 for updates. Follow us on Twitter at @kcur and on Facebook to keep a pulse on the conversation.


Beyond Our Borders
5:30 am
Wed May 14, 2014

After Recession, Blue Hills Neighborhood Works To Change Its Reputation

Helen Bryant of Bryant Real Estate likes to call herself an 'affordable housing real estate agent.' She's been working in Blue Hills and the urban core since she started her business 20 years ago.
Suzanne Hogan KCUR

Kansas City has a reputation for being one of the most affordable cities in the country to buy a home, and as the metro emerges from the recession, some of the most affordable neighborhoods are trying to draw in buyers.

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5:30 am
Tue May 13, 2014

Looking At Kansas City's Vacant Land As Opportunity

A close-up of green spaces on a map called "Blue River Country Fingers." It's placed on top of a vacant land map, with Land Bank properties in red.
Laura Spencer KCUR

Vacant lots are a problem for cities across the country. They’re costly for city budgets, as the lots have to be mowed and cleared of trash. For neighborhood residents, they can affect quality of life, and decrease property values.

There are thousands of vacant lots in Kansas City, Mo., including at least 3,000 parcels in the city’s Land Bank, and most of them are located east of Troost Avenue. A team of University of Missouri-Kansas City students spent the semester investigating vacancy and mapping out creative solutions.

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Beyond Our Borders
1:10 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

What It’s Like To Live In Walt Disney’s Childhood Home In Kansas City

Walt Disney moved to this house at 3028 Bellefontaine Ave. in Kansas City's east side when he was 9 years old.
Alyson Raletz KCUR

The view from Roberta Long’s white rocking chair on the porch of her Kansas City, Mo., house has taught her it’s a small world, after all.

That’s where she sits and meets people from Europe, California and everywhere in between.

 They stop by the house and take pictures at all hours of the day and night. In the summer, buses roll by with more gawkers, Long says.

And it’s all because of the legend who used to live in her home more than 100 years ago — Walt Disney.

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Beyond Our Borders
11:20 am
Fri May 9, 2014

Two Maps That Show The Concentration Of Lot Vacancies In Kansas City

UMKC seniors Sean Partain and Karie Kneller were part of the team investigating vacant land in Kansas City, Mo.
Credit Laura Spencer / KCUR

It's estimated Kansas City, Mo., has at least 4,000 to 5,000 vacant lots. These sites, sometimes weedy and filled with trash, contribute to neighborhood blight and lower property taxes.

This semester, 11 seniors in the Architecture, Urban Planning and Design department at UMKC documented the parcels of vacant land scattered across Kansas City, Mo. They zeroed in on an area with the highest rate of vacancies, predominantly in the urban core and east of Troost Avenue.

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Beyond Our Borders
6:06 am
Fri May 2, 2014

Walt Disney's Role In Transforming Troost

A view looking west to Troost from the Laugh-O-Gram Studio at 31st and Forest, Kansas City, Mo.
Credit Laura Spencer / KCUR

An attempt to breathe life into a building near Troost Avenue with ties to Walt Disney could help erase the corridor’s stigma as a key dividing line in Kansas City, says Butch Rigby.

Rigby, chairman of the non-profit Thank you Walt Disney, is behind an effort to revitalize Laugh-O-Gram Studio, which is just east of 31st Street and Troost.

Read more
Beyond Our Borders
11:09 am
Thu May 1, 2014

In Ivanhoe, Food Helping Neighborhood Rebuild

Terry Glenn re-stocks shelves at the Harvest Learning Center Market. The store is in the basement of the church where Glenn is pastor.
Credit Jeremy Bernfeld / KCUR

Terry Glenn’s neighborhood was hit hard by the recession, and it wasn’t booming before the rough times.

He saw houses crumble, get boarded up and left to rot. He saw neighbors moving away. And he worried that Ivanhoe, on Kansas City’s east side, was dying.

“We said, ‘We’ve got to look inside of this and see exactly what the problem is,’” Glenn said. “And once we did, we found out that the families were moving to try to find better schools, find healthier food, find different places that their family can go and have a good community.”

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9:22 am
Tue April 29, 2014

After Tulips Bloom, Rockhurst University Puts Bulbs Up For Taking

Tulips bloom along the edge of the Rockhurst University campus.
Credit Courtesy / Rockhurst University

Rockhurst University planted 33,000 tulips as part of the Tulips on Troost program this year. Now that the blankets of flowers are finished blooming, the university is giving the tulip bulbs away.

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10:55 am
Thu April 24, 2014

Troost Avenue Festival Will Celebrate 10 Years This Weekend

The Troost Ave Festival features crafts, music and food.
Credit KCUR

A handful of volunteers gathered earlier this week at Reconciliation Services, a social service agency at 31st Street and Troost Avenue in Kansas City, Mo., they ate stuffed grape leaves around a small table, talking about what needs to be done for Saturday’s 10th annual Troost Ave Festival. But, not much comes up.

"We need to figure out the color of our T-Shirts,” says Rae Peterson, the de facto group leader. The T-shirt will bear an image donated by local artist D.J. Burton.

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4:02 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

Federal Transportation Dollars Boost Infrastructure And Transit

Runners help celebrate opening a bridge across Brush Creek, the final project of a $50 million federal infrastructure grant.
Credit Ron Jones

It was a backslapping moment for federal and local officials Monday morning as they celebrated the end of a $50 million federal transit and infrastructure grant.

A group of runners broke through a green crepe paper ribbon on a pedestrian bridge over Brush Creek, a block east of Troost and just north of Volker in Kansas City, Mo.

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Beyond Our Borders
6:48 am
Thu April 17, 2014

Kansas City Grocer's Hand-Painted Signs Are A Lost Art In The Modern Age

Grocer William Rosser has been painting signs for his independent grocery stores in Kansas City for more than 50 years.
Briana O'Higgins KCUR

Every morning, William Rosser starts his day painting signs.

The 77-year-old butcher and owner of Wild Woody's Happy Foods on 31st Street and Myrtle Avenue in Kansas City, Mo., has been painting grocery signs for more than 50 years.

"I make sure every display's got a sign on it. That's my whole goal," he says.

Rosser's store is one of few remaining independent grocery stores in the area. It serves Kansas City's east side — an area largely considered to be a food desert.

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3:49 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

The History Of Troost

For decades, Troost Avenue has symbolized racial separation, income disparity and vast differences in home value as well as frequency of crime. But it's only a street. And at one time, it happened to be quite a prosperous street.

Hosted by Monroe Dodd, this discussion explores the specific decisions, both national and local, that laid the groundwork for Troost's transformation into a major metropolitan divide. Personal stories from a longtime resident contribute to this conversation.  


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Beyond Our Borders
5:30 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Tulips On Troost Still Blooming, But Efforts Are Dying Out

The Tulips on Troost program has struggled in recent years, but streets near Rockhurst University reflect the school's continuing participation in the program.
Julie Denesha KCUR

When the first blankets of tulips bloomed along Troost Avenue as part of the Tulips on Troost street beautification program, national, even international press paid attention.

But the program was never supposed to be just about flowers. It was also an effort to reimagine Troost, which for years has been thought of as an economic and racial dividing line.

Today, the program is all but defunct, lacking funds and human capital to keep it alive.

Driving north along Troost from 75th street, there aren't many signs of tulips. 

Read more
Beyond Our Borders
12:22 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

We Want Your Photos Of Awesome Things East Of Troost

This plate at a popular breakfast spot on Troost Avenue is featured on KCUR's new Tumblr, Awesome Things East of Troost.
Credit Alyson Raletz / KCUR

We’re finding lots of cool things on and east of Troost Avenue in Kansas City. And we know you are, too.

As KCUR continues its look at Troost as a dividing line in Kansas City — part of our Beyond Our Borders project  — we’re posting photos of our cool finds on a new Tumblr site called Awesome Things East of Troost.

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Beyond Our Borders
1:45 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

What Matters To One Of Kansas City’s Oldest Neighborhood Groups

Les Cline, president of the 49/63 Neighborhood Coalition
Credit Alyson Raletz / KCUR

Les Cline is highly aware of a street in Kansas City that dissects the 49/63 neighborhood in Kansas City — Troost Avenue.

But it’s just the name of a street, says Cline, president of the 49/63 Neighborhood Coalition.

“There’s no wall or fence or force field running down Troost,” Cline says. 

Founded in 1971, the coalition’s borders run from 49th to 63rd streets, and Paseo to Oak. Brush up on the neighborhood in this profile on 49-63.  

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Beyond Our Borders
9:36 am
Tue April 1, 2014

Kansas City's 49-63 Coalition Unites Residents On Both Sides Of Troost

A home in one of the neighborhoods that are part of the 49-63 coalition.
Credit Courtesy / 49-63 Neighborhood Coaltion

Right off the bat, you know one thing about everyone who’s part of the 49-63 neighborhood coalition  — a collective of residential associations in Kansas City, Mo. They all  live between 49th and 63rd Streets.

It’s their east–west borders that may be most interesting, however. Those lines are Paseo and Oak.

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Beyond Our Borders
7:30 am
Mon March 31, 2014

Life East Of Troost Through The Eyes Of 5 Kansas Citians

Mary Williams Neal
Credit Alyson Raletz / KCUR

As KCUR begins its in-depth look at how Troost Avenue divides Kansas City, we wanted to talk to people about their perceptions of the area east of the thoroughfare.  

We spent some time east of Troost this month, asking about the realities and misconceptions of life near one of Kansas City’s most prominent racial and economic dividing lines.

Here are some of the highlights of what we heard back:

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5:23 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

KCUR Is Coming Soon To A Neighborhood Near You

KCUR's Up To Date Host Steve Kraske, left, leads a discussion with members of the 49/63 neighborhood during a March community listening session at Rockhurst University.
Alyson Raletz KCUR

KCUR wants to turn the tables and listen to listeners for a change.

But we’ll need your help.

We want feedback from community members to drive our content as we examine how geographic borders affect our daily lives in Kansas City in our yearlong “Beyond Our Borders” project.

We’re looking for partners to help us host community listening sessions that we’re conducting to help us reach Kansas Citians on their own turf.

Read more
Beyond Our Borders
9:26 am
Thu March 27, 2014

How Troost Became A Major Divide In Kansas City

Mansions, like this one belonging to Flavel Tiffany, established Millionaire's Row on Troost between 26th and 32nd streets.
Missouri Valley Special Collections Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri

Eds note: This look at the Troost corridor is  part of KCUR's months-long examination of how 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. 

Read more
3:32 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Where You Draw The Lines In Kansas City

Listeners cited the Missouri River as one of the strongest geographic dividing lines in Kansas City.

A metropolitan area that straddles a state line provides plenty of fodder for a discussion on how Kansas Citians choose to divide themselves.

This week, we wanted to know where you draw the lines in the metropolitan area.

We went on the air and used social media to ask: What are the Kansas City metro’s strongest dividing lines? How do they affect your life?

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Central Standard
4:00 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Exploring The Borders And Boundaries In And Around Kansas City

How do we define ourselves, Kansas City? Are we a community made of rich and poor, black and white? Are we defined and divided by the languages we speak at home? Do neighborhoods, suburbs or rural communities signify who we are?

On today's Central Standard, we’ll explore the ways our communities have changed and are changing. Also, we'll talk about the lines that separate and unite us as the beginning of a longer conversation between KCUR and the greater Kansas City about borders and boundaries.


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