words by ROBERT HELLWEG
Downtown’s “Fountain of Youth” will be built on a prized plot of land immediately south of the iconic Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in the heart of the Crossroads Arts District.
That is where the University of Missouri- Kansas City will build a new home for its world- renowned Conservatory of Music and Dance. The Conservatory, founded in 1906, has been praised by The New York Times as “one of the country’s liveliest academies.” It has a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and four Guggenheim Fellows among its faculty.
The Conservatory has outgrown its existing home on UMKC’s Volker Campus, just south and east of the Country Club Plaza. So the university
will build a new, state-of-the-art $96-million facility downtown where the next generations of world-class musicians, dancers, choreographers, and composers will hone their artistic skills.
Building the new Conservatory directly across from the Kauffman Center is a strategic decision designed to benefit the community as much as it does the university and its students. That’s why it was included in the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Big 5 list of top civic priorities.
“This project is downtown’s fountain of youth, because it will perpetually forever bring 18 to 35 year olds to downtown,” said Warren Erdman, executive vice president, Administrative and Corporate Affairs for Kansas City Southern, and a former curator of the University of Missouri system.
THE IMPACT OF ARTS
The new Conservatory will stimulate economic activity by bringing approximately 700 students, faculty, and staff to the district as a daily, daytime presence, complementing the event-driven and largely evening-based activity at the Kauffman Center. The site – a full city block, bounded by Broadway, 17th, 18th and Central streets – is a two-block walk from Kansas City’s streetcar line, Bartle Hall, and the planned new Loews convention hotel.
The arts have much more economic impact than many people realize. Americans for the Arts notes that arts and cultural activities in Missouri create 33,000 full-time jobs and annually contribute $743 million in household income and $110 million in state government revenue to the economy. The UMKC Conservatory is an intrinsic component in making the Kansas City region one of U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Places to Live in the U.S.” The region has 8,346 jobs in the arts sector, contributing $273 million in annual economic activity, $9 million for local governments, and $12.8 million in state revenue.
A RENOWNED CONSERVATORY
At the downtown arts campus, Conservatory students will have increased opportunities to work alongside professionals in the Kauffman Center, Kansas City Symphony, Kansas City Lyric Opera, Kansas City Ballet, American Jazz Museum, and the Crossroads Arts District. This will strengthen student-professional collaborations and emulate successful urban arts education programs like that of Juilliard and the Lincoln Center in New York.
The new campus also will satisfy accrediting organizations by almost tripling the square footage of the Conservatory, making room for additional students to study there, and freeing up much-needed space on the landlocked Volker campus for other academic disciplines. The campuses will remain connected; Conservatory students will continue to take non-music classes at Volker and will continue to perform there.
For more than a century, the UMKC Conservatory and other performing arts programs have been foundational drivers of the city’s artistic heritage. The Kansas City Symphony, Lyric Opera, Kansas City Ballet, Bach Aria Soloists, Kansas City Chorale, newEar Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, and Wylliams/ Henry Contemporary Dance Company are among the many outstanding local artistic institutions founded by UMKC Conservatory faculty and/or alumni.
“As much as we appreciate our access to such talent on grand stages, that is not the primary place where the Conservatory’s impact is felt. Stages exist for the arts, but the arts do not exist for stages; they are for people,” said UMKC Chancellor Emeritus Leo E. Morton. “The arts are an essential component of our communities, and the Conservatory is a community builder through arts education.”
Generous local donors raised $48 million for the project, led by a $20-million gift from Julia Irene Kauffman on behalf of the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation. By raising half of the $96-million cost of the facility from private donors, the university sought matching funds from the state government — essentially delivering a permanent asset to the state’s university at half price. Both houses of the Missouri General Assembly approved a funding measure by wide margins.
When the legislation was stymied by an unexpected gubernatorial veto in June, civic and university officials vowed to forge ahead with the project. An alternative funding plan will be presented to the University of Missouri Board of Curators in December.
“This approach will allow construction to begin sooner and save money by avoiding construction cost inflation on a project that will benefit the students of UMKC, the people of Kansas City, and the state of Missouri,” UM System President Mun Choi said. “This is a strategic investment to support our key goals in academics and scholarship. That makes it a priority for the UM System and UMKC.”
UMKC has selected the design team of Helix Architecture + Design and HGA Architects and Engineers to proceed with the programming and concept-design process. Their renderings show the iconic Kauffman Center and the downtown skyline as its neighbors.
UMKC DOWNTOWN CAMPUS OF THE ARTS
Who and what: A much-needed new home for the Conservatory of Music and Dance, a world-renowned program of 700 students
Where: A city block bounded by Broadway, 17th, 18th, and Central streets next to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
How and when: Generous local donors raised $48 million for the project. A plan for the next steps will be presented in December to the University of Missouri Board of Curators.
Why: The Conservatory has outgrown its space and has the opportunity to contribute even more to the community. The arts deliver a major economic impact of $850 million in income and revenue annually in Missouri.
words and photos by TOM STRONGMAN
The GLC 300 is an excellent example of why crossover utility vehicles continue to gain popularity, because it drives like a taller, slightly longer version of the C 300 sedan. But when you need to carry things such as a bicycle, bags of mulch, or DIY materials for a weekend project, flipping down the back seat creates plenty of room. A power liftgate is standard.
Redesigned in 2015 as the replacement for the GLK, the GLC 300 has a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four- cylinder that pumps out a lively 241 horsepower. That might seem to be a pretty small engine for a vehicle of this size but the GLC 300 is 176 pounds lighter than the GLK, due to the use of aluminum for the hood, front fenders, and roof panel. Aluminum is also used for the front and rear suspension and rear-axle subframe.
The strength of the engine is its ability to deliver maximum torque from 1,300 rpm to 4,000 rpm. High torque at low rpm makes the engine drive as if it were much larger. Throttle response is crisp right from a stop. The 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic transmission plays a role in making the vehicle feel energetic because there is a gear for every speed and situation. It also contributes to a fuel economy rating of 21 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.
Five selectable drive modes — Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus, and Individual — let the driver tailor the vehicle to personal preference. Each mode is as its name implies: Eco gives the best fuel economy, although at a slight drop in performance; Comfort is the default setting and good for everyday use; Sport livens things up a bit, with sharper throttle response and tighter suspension settings; Sport Plus is slightly more aggressive; and Individual mode lets the driver mix and match settings according to personal taste, such as choosing the comfort suspension with the Sport Plus engine tuning.
Prices begin at $39,150 for rear-wheel drive and $41,150 for all-wheel drive. The test vehicle was equipped with numerous options, such as a panoramic sunroof, metallic red paint, head-up display, heated steering wheel, 19-inch AMG wheels, Burmester surround sound system, and heated front and rear seats. The Premium package included keyless ignition, blind- spot assist, navigation, illuminated doorsills, and Sirius XM radio. The Sport package includes AMG body styling and AMG perforated front brake discs. The sticker price was $53,875.
While the GLC 300 is available in rear-wheel or all-wheel- drive 4MATIC configuration, most buyers in our climate will want the 4MATIC version. This system delivers optimum traction in a wide variety of conditions, from rain and snow to sand and mud. Because the system has a slight bias toward the rear wheels, dry-road handling feels neutral.
Befitting its C 300 heritage, the GLC 300’s cabin is cozy and plush. The Cardinal Red test car had a black interior with wood-grain trim on the instrument panel and console. A large, sweeping panel connects the dashboard to the center console and armrest. The front seats have proper support in all the right places and the test vehicle was equipped with the optional heated seats, front and rear, as well as a heated steering wheel.
A seven-inch color LCD screen sits in the center of the dash like a tablet computer. It is not a touch-screen because Mercedes-Benz feels operating a touch- screen can be distracting. A mouse-like touchpad and a rotary knob on the center console control various navigation, audio, and the vehicle’s settings. The touchpad permits letters, numbers, and special characters to be entered in handwriting. Voice commands can also be used. Fingertip controls on the steering wheel control the trip computer, audio, and hands-free phone use. The navigation system has five years of traffic and weather services provided by SiriusXM.
Head-up Display (HUD) projects important information directly in the driver’s field of vision on the windshield, thus helping to reduce the driver’s need to avert attention from the road ahead. The system provides information on speed and navigation instructions.
Advances in semi-autonomous technology continue to play an increasingly important role in automotive design and the GLC has the following safety features:
Attention Assist learns a driver’s habits and then sends an alert if it feels the driver is getting drowsy or not paying attention.
Collision Prevention Assist Plus sends an audible warning if it senses the driver is closing on a vehicle too quickly. At speeds up to 31 mph, the vehicle will apply the brakes to avoid a stationary object.
Pre-Safe tightens seatbelts, closes windows, and closes the sunroof if it senses a collision is imminent. Brake Assist applies maximum braking force in an emergency.
The blind-spot monitor is a light in the side mirrors.
Electronic vehicle stability assist with trailer stabilization.
Available options include an adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, a 360-degree camera with a bird’s-eye view, and Pre-Safe Plus that can sense a rear impact and activates the rear hazard lights at increasing frequency and initiates preventive braking.
words by PATRICK MULVIHILL | food photos by ANNA PETROW
When your city is known as “Cowtown,” it’s sometimes difficult to differentiate one steakhouse from another. Fine cuts of beef and expansive (and expensive) wine lists are a dime a dozen in Kansas City, but nowadays, the white-tablecloth vibe seems more stuffy than it does stimulating. Head just a stone’s throw west into Lawrence, and you’ll find a uniquely impressive dining experience well worth the drive.
Located at the corner of 8th and Massachusetts (Mass) streets, the RND Corner Grille opened in late 2015 with a special focus on even the smallest details. It all starts with
the building itself, which dates back to 1866. The Round Corner Drug Store was the longest continuously operating pharmacy in the state before closing its doors in 2009. When the wheels started turning to pave the way for RND, an interior mural depicting the building in its glory days was commissioned immediately. The bar is adorned with eye-catching black and white tilework, which stands in strong juxtaposition to the polished hardwood floors. The facade, the interior, and the atmosphere are refined yet unpretentious, from its modern- classic furnishings all the way down to the polished flatware.
RND’s wine list can appeal to diners on a budget, but even the most serious connoisseurs will find a number of impressive bottles that can’t be found anywhere else in the entire state. The bar program boasts a couple heavy hitters, as well, including the absinthe-infused Sazerac and a show-stopping margarita that’s tough to sip slowly. A rotating list of beer taps is mercifully free from the Heinekens and Sam Adams of this world, opting to replace the “macro” craft beers with a curated list from local and regional breweries, including Lawrence’s own Free State Brewing, which is located just one block north on Mass Street.
Whether you’re dropping in for lunch or sitting down for a long dinner, RND’s menu will pique any diner’s interest without overwhelming or intimidating. Every ingredient is sourced as locally and ethically as possible, so not only will your palate be appeased, but your conscience will too. This attention to quality is noticeable in every dish, from the carpaccio to the calamari. However, you might not be able to tell this from the prices. Nearly half the entrees won’t even break a $20.
Consider the house-favorite, the Braised Beef Short Rib, which is served with herb-roasted fingerling potatoes, red cabbage puree, and horseradish cream. Or get the Cedar Plank Salmon, which always makes for a great Instagram photo, if you have the self-control to wait that long before diving in. A word of advice: don’t sleep on the salad and sandwich menus, which both include well rounded arrays of seasonal classics and unexpected options. Order the Brussels Sprout Salad, which comes adorned with roasted pecans, apples, toasted Brussels sprouts, and goat cheese on a bed of arugula, lightly tossed in bacon dijon vinaigrette. For a heftier appetite, the short rib sandwich packs a punch without breaking the bank.
It should be mentioned that first and foremost, RND is a steakhouse. And it’s a great one at that, one much deserving of its list of red wines. The cuts themselves are among the best you’ll find in Lawrence if not the greater Kansas City metro area, paired with unforgettable sides of seasonal vegetables that will make you think, if only for a second, that you could be a vegetarian. The filet mignon and Kansas City strip are both crowd-favorites, perfectly cooked and immaculately plated to your liking. For bigger
MAPLE BOURBON CAKE
appetites, the espresso-chili-rubbed ribeye is the call, as long as you save room for dessert. Split an adult ice cream float with your dinner date or order a maple bourbon cake to share from the skillet for the table.
If you’re looking for expected takes on traditional dishes, RND might not be your cup of tea. There are more predictable restaurants with more predictable dishes out there —though, it should be noted that the Caesar salad, BLT, and cheeseburger are all worth ordering, if only once. Though the building itself is incredibly old, the menu reflects a new look into what classic American dishes can be. The mashed potatoes are torched. The brunch menu is diverse, and the mimosas are bottomless. The Steak Frites come with whipped herb goat cheese, and it works. The restaurant does nothing to disparage our history as a culinary species, but it improves upon traditional dishes that we know and love. The corner drug store might be a thing of the past, but RND Corner Grille is here to stay.
by BILL JOHNSON | photos by ANDREA FREMIOTTI
On August 26, Mercedes-Benz Stadium hosted its first major event — an NFL preseason game between the Arizona Cardinals and Atlanta Falcons. The 2-million-square-foot, $1.5 billion stadium is home to the NFL’s Falcons and MLS’s Atlanta United and will host some of the nation’s most significant sporting events, including the College Football Playoff National Championship Game in 2018, Super Bowl LIII in 2019, and the NCAA Final Four in 2020. And it was designed right here in Kansas City.
The stadium’s innovative design includes a first-of-its-kind retractable roof that opens from the center. It also features the world’s first halo video board. HOK’s Bill Johnson, senior vice president and design principal for the Kansas City practice and Sports + Recreation + Entertainment, describes four innovations fans — even here in Kansas City — won’t want to miss.
HALO VIDEO BOARD
The team designed the halo video board to bring to life the theater-in-the-round experience. The scale of the video board is hard to comprehend without seeing it in person. It’s three times larger than any other video board in the NFL, measuring 58 feet high and 1,075 feet long. It’s equivalent to three football fields end to end. This halo video board immerses fans in the game and provides a canvas for digital media to be presented in ways fans have never experienced.
The story of the video board begins with the roof. The team had gone to great lengths to design a venue with a roof that could retract so it could function as an open-air stadium. We quickly realized that a center-hanging scoreboard would impede our original vision. We decided to configure the video board’s size and geometry based on the roof opening, resulting in the halo form. Based on this integrated approach, the final product feels embedded and complementary to the stadium’s design.
The mega column is more than 6,700 square feet and 101 feet high, providing more square footage than the main video displays at 19 professional football stadiums and 24 Major League Baseball parks. The column offers unprecedented programming opportunities. It can be used to supplement the halo video board content with, for example, a larger-than- life video of a player. We thought strategically about the comprehensive experience fans would have. The mega column is another unique way fans can consume digital media content.
The stadium was designed to rely on digital platforms for advertising. This means the facility serves as a blank canvas that can be transformed depending on the team playing, event being hosted, or sponsors being promoted.
WINDOW TO THE CITY
The shape of the facade follows the roof’s form, with angular, wing-like sections inspired by the shape of a falcon. We wanted the design to be unique to Atlanta, connecting visitors and fans to the city skyline. On the stadium’s west side, the window to the city spans more than 16 stories and 22,500 square feet, offering unforgettable floor-to-ceiling views of Atlanta. ETFE, the same transparent material used in the roof petals, provides visual connectivity and natural light while supporting the stadium’s ambitious sustainability goals.
The roof of Mercedes-Benz Stadium is pure innovation. I strongly believe that innovation can’t occur if you aren’t willing to be brave. Arthur Blank and his team were willing to be brave. The roof contains eight petals resting on 16 tracks. Though they appear to rotate as they open, that’s actually an optical illusion. Each petal structure is clad with air-inflated ETFE pillows that contain more than 143,000 square feet of ETFE in the petals alone.
The roof has captured everyone’s imagination. It challenges all of us to think differently about the role of design on the human experience. It provokes and inspires. It suggests that if we’re willing to look beyond what has always been done, we can establish new standards. Mercedes-Benz Stadium is iconic because the client and members of the design team were willing to dream big.
by LANIE DRAPER
Simple, sophisticated, timeless. Nope, I’m not describing the infamous little black dress hanging in your closet. It’s actually the newest color to hit the home decor scene…matte black. Though this trend initially made its debut in fashion, it didn’t take long for it to cross over to home decor. Black finishes and accessories have always been cool and versatile, but the lack of shine offered by this new color gives this moody hue the perfect pinch of edginess. The best thing about this color is that it’s considered neutral. Whether paired with wood accents, shiny metallics, or pale pastels, matte black adds striking contrast while still creating balance and grounding your mix of styles.
Are you ready to add a little edge to your home? Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Modern: Modern homes are known for their sleek and minimalistic style. Often times, there’s not a particular area that stands out more than another, but as a whole, the uniformity is breathtaking. For example, the use of large kitchen appliances against black cabinetry will create a totally flush look, making your kitchen resemble that of a five-star restaurant.
Just want to add a few modern touches to your home? Light fixtures such as matte-black pendants lined with gold are another small, yet mighty way to showcase this hot new trend in your home.
Farmhouse: Wall-mounted faucets are a staple in farmhouse bathrooms. And due to the rising popularity of matte black, manufactures have made faucets mimicking that of one found in an old farmhouse. This sleek color paired with a vintage- style faucet is a definite yes in my book!
Another gorgeous way to add some not-so-traditional farmhouse charm to your home is to paint a shiplap wall matte black as opposed to the traditional white. It will make a huge statement paired with white furniture and wood tables.
Traditional: Move over oil-rubbed bronze; matte black is in the house! Replacing old original hardware and light fixtures are a quick way to give your home a major spruce up.
Black pearl granite has been around for a long time. Though functional and pretty, it’s a little too “dressy” for some. Selecting a honed black countertop will take out the shine, allowing you to get a little more bold with your light fixtures.
Midcentury: Midcentury vibes are hot right now. Minimal furniture in vibrant colors, white walls, and geometric-shaped floor tile… hello, gorgeous! Lucky for us, tile shops now carry matte-black tile in fun shapes with a lot of dimension.
Furniture is another great way to add this trend to your home. Midcentury furniture pieces certainly stand out with their clean lines and unique legs. Try visiting your local vintage stores to find a pretty piece and start painting.
So, is it too early to say there’s a new black in town? Maybe. But it’s definite.ly a gorgeous trend and worth incorporating into your home.
by MARCI LINN | photo by JULIEN & LAMBERT PHOTOGRAPHIC SERVICES
Today’s contemporary spaces, more and more, seem to incorporate a little bit of Mother Nature right alongside the modern conveniences and styles. A great method of bringing some of that great outdoors to your indoors is to set up and maintain a miniature underwater habitat, complete with live, growing plants and aquatic life.
There are many methods of creating an underwater biotope, and tomes have been dedicated to the art and science of it, so please explore all those options if the idea strikes your fancy. For the sake of brevity, here’s a simple, inexpensive project to help get your thumb wet in the wonderful world of planted aquaria. Not only will you benefit from the soothing ambiance of a tiny underwater world, but you just might discover a whole new hobby that you really enjoy and move on to larger and more complex systems.
To set up a basic freshwater, planted aquarium, choose a small glass or acrylic container, be that a ready-made aquarium or a uniquely shaped clear glass or acrylic receptacle. Just ensure that your chosen aquarium has as large a surface area as possible, which enables more oxygen exchange at the surface (in other words, no tall, narrow vases, which, despite the popularity of the “vase betta” craze, are just not good for the fish).
Place your chosen habitat on a flat, level, sturdy surface near an electrical outlet. A countertop in the kitchen, a bar top, side table, dresser, nightstand, or even a bathroom vanity are all good choices. Add an aquatic soil substrate, formulated specifically for growing plants, about three inches deep.
Fill the tank carefully by pouring water gently into a saucer to avoid disturbing the soil. Any cloudiness will likely clear overnight. Be sure to add water conditioner to neutralize any chemicals added by the water treatment plant. Your local pet store can help you select the appropriate one for your area. Next, you’ll need to add a very small heater to keep water temperature stable. Again, your local pet store can assist you in choosing the correct-sized heater for your needs, based on size of your aquarium and your ambient room temperature.
Your mini aquatic jungle will require a suitable light source to help your plants thrive and grow. For the scope of this project, I recommend a small, clip-on, full-spectrum LED lamp. Long lasting, efficient, and cool running, they come in a vast array of styles, shapes, and colors to appeal to all tastes and can be purchased for less than $30. A simple air-driven sponge filter will complete your required equipment, which can be obtained for around $25.
Fill your aquarium with easy-to-grow, forgiving, hearty species such as the following:
• Shorter Plants: Java fern, Java moss (Vesicularia dubyana), Dwarf hairgrass (Eleocharis parvula), Anubias nana.
• Taller Plants: Bacopa caroliniana, Wisteria (Hygrophila difformis.)
• Free-floating plants: Water sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides), Marimo moss ball (Aegagropilalinnaei).
Plant utilizing the taller plants in the back and shorter plants in the front. Accessorize to your heart’s content: perhaps an Asian theme with little red bridge or a Buddha statue; a magical fairy garden; your child’s favorite cartoon character; an ever-changing holiday theme; or a scattering of pretty trinkets from your travels, like seashells, pebbles, or driftwood (fish safe, of course).
Mini aquariums are rather limited in what types and the numbers of fish they can house, but some possible options, depending on your container’s water volume and surface area, are small tetras, rasboras, endlers guppies, killifish, dwarf cories, or tiny ornamental shrimp, which all come in an kaleidoscope of patterns and colors! A single male betta is also a great choice, often becoming so tame it will take food from your fingers.
Small, regular water changes, plant trimming (scissors work), and a bit of liquid aquarium fertilizer are all that are required to maintain this setup. Until you’re ready to invest in water-quality test kits, most local aquarium stores will test a sample of your water for little to no charge.
Mini planted aquariums are really quite simple to set up and easy to maintain, without the expense or time andspacecommitmentofalargeraquarium.Theseren.e beauty they bring into your home more than repays what little effort is required to maintain them. Give one a try!
by KARLA NICHOLS
Three of the most frightening words to hear: “You have cancer.” A cancer diagnosis can turn a person’s world upside down. There is a place in Kansas City where cancer patients and their families can turn to when they hear that devastating news. That place is Cancer Action.
Cancer Action is a local nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of those living with, through, and beyond cancer in the Kansas City area. Our belief is that no one should face the challenge of cancer alone. We “go the extra mile” to offer vital services and support throughout the cancer journey. We offer programs and services that address the physical, emotional, social, and financial needs of cancer survivors and their families.
Cancer Action takes a very personal approach to care. Each person’s journey is unique. The caring staff of Cancer Action — operating from three locations within the metro — help people navigate through every step of their personal journey. Here is just one woman’s story and how Cancer Action came alongside her during this difficult time.
Mary’s world, and that of her 9-year old child, changed dramatically three years ago when Mary was diagnosed with lymphoma. At the age of 40, Mary began the fight of her life: experiencing times of aggressive cancer treatments and times of cancer remission. The disease took its toll on Mary financially, physically, and emotionally; so she turned to Cancer Action. We have been at Mary’s side, going the extra mile with her, providing the services she desperately needs, such as:
• Transportation to life-sustaining treatment appointments.
• Nutritional supplements to maintain her strength and energy.
• Medical supplies she needed but could not afford.
• Holiday adoption program to provide happiness and hope for her and her family.
• Guidance to help navigate the difficult challenges she faced.
Each year, thousands of cancer patients just like Mary come through our doors. As the only local organization offering the comprehensive services we provide, we could not do it without the support of our community. One group who “goes the extra mile” on behalf of those with cancer has been Sunflowers to Roses (S2R). They are dedicated to helping cancer patients through their love of cycling. Through their hard work to put on the fundraising Sunflowers to Roses Bike Ride, S2R has raised over $250,000 over the past 14 years, supporting cancer survivors through its financial support to Cancer Action.
Together, we go the extra mile!
by ROBERT HELLWEG
Anyone who has ever slept on the floor knows the negative effects of a restless, uncomfortable night of sleep: focus is lost, productivity goes down, and emotions run high. These effects are especially harsh on children for whom sleep deprivation can contribute to emotional, health, and developmental problems. Did you know that approximately one in every 42 children in Kansas City struggles with these issues because s/he sleeps nightly on the floor, sofa, or shares a bed with parents or multiple other siblings? It is Sleepyhead Beds’ unique mission to serve this overlooked need.
Through her work as a CASA (court-appointed special advocate), Sleepyhead Beds’ founder Monica Starr regularly encountered children suffering the effects of sleeping in less-than-ideal conditions. In many cases, children in the foster system were unable to be reunited
with their parents because the family lacked the resources to provide those children with their own bed (mattress and box spring). Monica thought by reaching out to her network and securing gently used beds and bedding that she might be able to help get these kids back home.
What started as the simple efforts of one Kansas City woman in 2011 has turned into Kansas City’s only non- profit dedicated to improving the quality of life for children and their families by providing clean, recycled beds and bedding. Supported by two full-time staff, a board of 14 community members, and a small army of volunteer labor, Sleepyhead Beds was able to distribute over 2,000 beds to kids and their families in 2016. It hopes to do even more in 2017 and beyond.
Sleepyhead Beds’ initial focus was on children in the foster care system. But as word of this work got out, the demand for beds continued to grow. Sleepyhead Beds now responds to the needs of Kansas City area children in a variety of difficult situations. These include homelessness, return from foster care, recovery from abuse and/or drug dependency issues, refugee relocation, and families recovering from other life-altering challenges. Our current waitlist is over 500 families and totals more than 1,000 Kansas City children in need.
In order to stock our warehouse, Sleepyhead Beds accepts new and gently used mattress and box spring donations from anyone within the Kansas City area (for information about its coverage area, please visit sleepyheadbeds.org). Of all household items, mattresses and box springs are possibly the heaviest and take up the most space. They are difficult to transport and store. By offering pick up of these items, Sleepyhead Beds not only helps supply children and their families in need of beds, but it also prevents these items from going into local Kansas City area landfills. A successful by-product of our work is the diversion of more than 150 tons of waste — including non-biodegradable foam, synthetic fibers, and steel coils – per year. Any mattresses accepted by Sleepyhead Beds that are not deemed fit for redistribution are recycled through our SLEEPYHEAD VOLUNTEERS area partner, Avenue of Life.
This provides a secondary, and invaluable, service to those in the Kansas City area.
Our process is fairly simple. Anyone interested in donating a bed can register via our website to schedule a pickup. For a relatively nominal fee (currently $30), Sleepyhead Beds will pick up the beds, take them to our warehouse for sanitization, and then redistribute them out into the community. We currently accept crib, twin, full, and queen sized mattresses and box springs as well as bedding (sheets and blankets). We also accept used pack ’n play-style playpens, which our families utilize for babies and small toddlers who are not yet ready for a “big kid” bed.
Sleepyhead Beds could not provide these services to Kansas City without the generous support of the local community and our partners. It is so grateful to have been supported since its inception by the Soave Automotive Group and since 2013 by the Auto Dealers Association of Greater Kansas City. With their help, it has been able to increase the number of beds distributed each and every year since its founding. Sleepyhead Beds’ hope is to eventually be able to ensure that no Kansas City child goes to sleep at night without his or her own safe and clean bed.
by JENNIFER LAPKA PFEIFER | profile photos by SAMANTHA LEVI
Where can we look for inspiration, for a positive example of collaboration?
When relationships on the national and international strata could currently be described as frazzled, greed- powered, and brooding, Kansas City residents need only to look in their own community for an incredible example of collaboration.
Rightfully Sewn is a new organization that is bringing jobs and opportunity to our community through the business of fashion. Its mission is provide seamstress training for at-risk women so they can thrive in a specialized workforce that will reestablish Kansas City as an epicenter of garment manufacturing, while at the same time, propel Kansas City fashion designers to market so they can supply the burgeoning demand for high-quality, American-produced garments.
Rightfully Sewn has launched its pilot Seamstress Training Program, which is training six women in industrial sewing and alterations and then helping to place them in full-time, living-wage paying jobs with locally sewn product businesses. Over the past three years, Rightfully Sewn staff researched resources that already existed in the area, created relationships with those entities, and engaged them in the conversation when creating its program.
The following is an overview of the critical relationships:
CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT: In order to develop a curriculum that teaches participants the most sought- after skills in the industry, Rightfully Sewn amalgamated a credentialed, 14-person panel to help develop the Seamstress Training Program. Individuals included leadership from social service agencies, professionals who teach sewing, women’s business development organizations, and sewn-product businesses based in Kansas City who need to hire skilled seamstresses.
VENUE PARTNER: The Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts has a well-appointed sewing room for its robust high school fashion-design program, which the Kansas City Public School District is allowing Rightfully Sewn to use for its Seamstress Training Program.
INTERPRETATION AND CULTURAL SENSITIVITY TRAINING:
We knew interpretation and cultural sensitivity would be elements to plan for after we selected the participants and understood their needs. We are working with Jewish Vocational Services’ Language and Cultural Services department to provide these critical elements to our participants, staff, and volunteers.
SEWN-PRODUCT APPRENTICESHIP PARTNERS: The following businesses have expressed interest in hosting the Seamstress Training Program participants in apprenticeships following their graduation: Elevé Dancewear, Arrow Cleaning, WomenSpirit and Abiding Spirit Vestments, Asiatica, and ContourMD.
SOFT-SKILLS DEVELOPMENT PARTNER: Seamstress Training Program participants can attend a professional skills-development program available through Women’s Employment Network, which focuses on workplace etiquette, financial management, and more.
“I cannot tell you how generous everyone has been of his and her time, energy, and resources — from the initial panel to the staff at the Kansas City, Missouri, school district to the social service agency case managers who helped us identify program candidates,” said Rightfully Sewn founder and president Jennifer Lapka Pfeifer. “Strong communication and organizational skills have been used to make war; together we are using these tools to make opportunities for women.”
Considering their nationalities, “we have nicknamed this first class the United Nations of Sewing,” said Pamela Lucas, Rightfully Sewn Director of Curricula and Instruction, who has nearly 30 years of teaching experience in fashion design and construction. “These women are inspirational in many ways, and we have been enjoying watching them bond with one another and develop their skills.
Our expectations for the program are very high: we have a rigorous curriculum and we require 100-percent attendance and homework turn-in rates. In return, we promise to give the seamstresses all the resources they need to become gainfully employed in this growing industry.”
Please follow the seamstresses’ progress by signing up for Rightfully Sewn’s e-newsletter at rightfullysewn. org and help support.the organization’s initiatives by marking your calendar for its Golden Gala taking place on Saturday, December 2.
by JENNIFER LAPKA PFEIFER | photos by BONJWING LEE
“Always dress yourself out of respect for whom you are spending time with,” my beloved, late grandmother once told me. She shared those words of wisdom while I was in my teenage years and their meaning becomes more and more sharply focused with each passing year. Essentially, as I would when preparing a speech, I aim to “know my audience” when dressing my body each morning by reviewing my calendar appointments for the day. Do I have lunch with my best friend? . . . a meeting with a potential funder? . . . a cocktail hour with colleagues? — or perhaps all of the above. I tailor my day’s look accordingly.
My husband and male friends frequently ask me for advice on how to best adhere to this or that dress code, especially business casual. As our society continues to shed formality, in general — think shrinking lexicons, the loss of cursive writing, RSVPing via text message, etc. — business casual has slowly become the modus operandi in workplaces around the country, starting with Silicon Valley CEOs in the 1990s. Even behemoth businesses like J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and American Express have opted in, in order to attract young and seasoned employees alike who want to express their individuality while being as comfortable as possible.
So what does the code constitute? Because the meaning of business casual is different according to geography and industry, what do I advise my husband and male friends to wear? I talk to my wealth manager about investing; I talk to my doctor about health; therefore, I sought the advice of a professional clothier on this matter, Tom Paolini of Paolini Garment Company, so I could help them. I share his knowledge with you, too, here.
Tom says, “The key to dressing for business casual, or any level of formality or casualness, is being mindful of time, place, and your personal brand. It could be defined as “familiar dressing.” You dress more formally typically when you have a new client or a board meeting. But dressing more familiar means that you are comfortable with your client base and peers and can literally loosen your tie.”
To Palolini, business casual is simply expanding an existing mode of dress — essentially how you already dress for the country club, for business travel, and for dinner on Friday night, but adapting that look to the work week. These adaptations can include keeping your suit but removing your tie and unbuttoning your shirt a bit; pairing high-quality denim jeans with a blazer; finding a unique bomber jacket and putting it with structured trousers; switching out serious socks with whimsical ones; maintaining manicured stubble on your face; and wearing bright shoes.
I have the greatest respect for Tom and his passion for elevating our community’s level of dressing and understanding of the fashion industry. Pop by his shop — which, interestingly, is located in the former home of Lawrin — the Kansas-bred 1938 Kentucky Derby-winning horse — in the Corinth South shopping center in Prairie Village. He and his team can offer men (and women) plenty more advice on custom suiting and shoes,.tuxedos, high-end textiles from historical, international mills, and more.