The last few months have seen an upswing in gun violence, burglary, car chases and more.
And perhaps I’m more of an optimist (although I prefer Optimistic Realist, thank you very much) because while I see the crime (or rather hear about it), I also see…
Local Kids Participating in NaNoWriMo
I was invited by my daughter’s teacher to come by an after-school session of NaNoWriMo. For those of you not in the know, November is known as National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) which is empowering for writers and aspiring writers alike.
I walked around the room, stopping to talk with the kids, answer questions on spelling, and more. There were at least fifteen of them in the room – snacking on chips, typing away, and having a fun time.
It makes me wish that NaNoWriMo had been a thing when I was a kid. I don’t remember being encouraged to write – certainly shamed for not writing in the assigned journals we all had to complete – but not encouraged to write in any other fashion.
This changed in high school in San Francisco when I attended a small private school where we primarily learned out of books through independent study. It was there that I was allowed to escape from the torturous diagramming of sentences and instead jump headlong into the creative process.
I love that my daughter’s fifth-grade teacher was hosting this and encouraging the kids to just write, in whatever form it took.
When we moved here four and a half years ago, we had been homeschooling our daughter for a couple of years. I joked that we were half committed before to it, and fully committed to homeschooling now that we lived in the city itself.
Circumstances changed and when we enrolled the kiddo this year, I had a great deal of mixed feelings and trepidation. I am, however, incredibly impressed with the kindness, involvement, and dedication that each of my daughter’s teachers provide to her and to her classmates.
As homeschoolers, we encountered and tried to dispel many myths about what homeschool is or can do. On the flip side, however, I’ve learned that not all public school is the same, and that there are some phenomenal teachers out there.
After Ms. L. told the group, “Christine is our visiting author” the kids came up, looked at my books, and asked questions.
“How long does it take to write a book?” was the predominant question.
They seemed a little daunted by the answer – “It depends. For me, anywhere from six weeks to several years.”
I can’t help imagining one or more of these kids in a few years – cranking out a YA masterpiece that will change their lives and start them on a writing path.
Harmony Project KC
I can’t say enough good things about Harmony Project KC!
From the phenomenal teachers and their smiling faces, to the difference they make in so many children’s lives, our community is lucky to have them.
My daughter was in the very first class, nearly three years ago now, and plays the cello.
In case you are new to the area, Harmony Project KC provides FREE music education to youth living in the Northeast area. This includes singing in a choir, learning to read music, play the recorder and other basic instruments, and then transitioning to classical instruments (again, all provided at zero cost) such as the cello, viola and violin.
They recently added more instruments, but I’ve been out of the loop on what those are.
Our Neighborhood Associations
As silly as it might sound, I had never heard of neighborhood associations before moving here. And I questioned the need or worth of them until I had attended plenty of meetings.
Even after my husband joined our neighborhood association in Lykins and eventually ended up as president, I remained dubious. What was it really for? What could it accomplish?
And until this fall, an evening class for the kiddo had prevented me from attending our Lykins monthly meetings on the 2nd Monday. I went to November’s meeting, the first in a year or two that I was able to attend, and was bowled over.
There were speakers, so many of them, and they were talking about investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in rehabbing existing structures (currently abandoned), building new housing in vacant lots, and revitalizing an area that I have come to love.
We also were lucky to have a police officer, one of those tasked with community outreach, available to give us a “Crime and Grime” update, as well as someone from the CID and NEAT, asking for help with creating more safe and crime-free destinations for our youth to go to on Friday and Saturday nights.
I found myself volunteering, having come straight from NaNoWriMo at our local elementary school, to host a writing class for teens. In the up and coming Maker Space on 12th, which is where we hold the neighborhood association meetings, there are classrooms being built that could eventually accommodate that.
I left the meeting so excited about the future of our neighborhood. In my mind’s eye I could see cute bungalows rising in the empty lots, decrepit and boarded up homes sparkling with a fresh coat of paint and new windows – and all of them filled with families of all ethnicities and walks of life.
If you want to see the future of our community, you need to attend one of your neighborhood association meetings.
Northeast Kansas City Historical Society
I moved here to live in an old home. I adore old homes and consider it a banner day when I get to see the inside of one and explore the changes the years have wrought upon it.
Each year, the Northeast Kansas City Historical Society holds a walking tour of around 4-6 homes. We were lucky enough to be one of those homes on the 2016 tour. All of the years (all six) have been phenomenal and it is a joy to hang out with others who share my love of architecture and want to help preserve it.
If you love the older architecture here in Kansas City and would like to:
- See and learn more about it
- Attend a home tour (or serve as a docent – you get to see them for free when you do!)
- Meet others (including a historian) who share your interests
- Support a group dedicated to preserving our architectural history
Then I strongly recommend you consider a membership with NEKCHS. It’s just $20 per year and you will get reduced prices on tickets for the Homes Tour the second Saturday of October, as well as a discount on their books and merchandise.
They also have an amazing book out that highlights so many of our historic properties and a second one coming out in February 2018!
These Are Only a Few
I’ve listed a small handful of organizations and activities that are occurring. Half a dozen more have occurred to me while writing about these!
There are so many good things happening in our area. And I hope to continue to focus on the positive, not the negative, even as we take steps to stop the negative from occurring.
I count myself as lucky to live here and I hope that you do as well.
I write about everything from gardening and community, to education, the writing process, DIY, and more. I maintain four blogs, write fiction and non-fiction books, and I am a community educator.
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