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Mary Rupert webMary Rupert
Mary Rupert web
This spring brings a renaissance of ideas to Kansas City, Kan.
A couple of idea-generating programs are currently taking place. If nothing else, they will be an opportunity to stretch one’s mind and apply creative thinking to the community.
One is a TEDx Wyandotte program planned on April 2 at Kansas City Kansas Community College. Another program visiting Kansas City, Kan., within the past few months was Code for America, a national nonprofit that works with local governments to create new solutions for civic innovation using technology. As the city becomes more wired with the Google Fiber project, it will be in a good position to try some innovative technology ideas.
The TEDx Wyandotte program, according to its curator, Shari Wilson, has the theme “Core Impact: Exploring Ideas that Enrich a Community.”
Among the speakers April 2 are Mike Brown, who will talk about “Diversity and Ideas in the Porous Community,” the local band, “Making Movies,” to address “Sustainable Cultures in a Disposable Culture,” Sheri Hall, of Spoken Word Artists, who will speak on, “Super Heroes,” Mary B. Lucas, author of “Lunchmeat and Life Lessons: Sharing a Butcher’s Wisdom,” who will speak on “Remember the Comeback Sauce: The Secret Recipe to Creating Lasting Relationships,” Brett Ramey, “Converging Rivers: Refreshing Place-Based Food Systems,” Adam Arredondo, co-leader of the Kansas City Startup Village, spurred by the Google Fiber project, “Minds on Fire – Inside the Mind of an Entrepreneur.”
Lucas’s book, “Lunchmeat and Life Lessons,” was about her late father, John Bichelmeyer, a Kansas City, Kan., butcher and small businessman. According to Wilson, Lucas used her dad’s secret recipe, “Comeback Sauce,” to achieve success. She wrote the book as a tribute to her late father. While he had just an eighth grade education, Bichelmeyer was the smartest person Lucas ever knew.
The TEDx Wyandotte event will be held will be held from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. April 2 in the Performing Arts Center, KCKCC, 7250 State Ave. The cost is $15 and refreshments will be served. Registration is required to www.kckcc.edu, select Workforce Development from the QuickLinks, then select TEDx registration.
A second program sparking ideas here in Kansas City, Kan., recently was the Code for America. Three Code for America representatives recently made a presentation at a Unified Government meeting about their work here. They focused on how technology could be used to foster economic development and entrepreneurship in the region. They met with people in both Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas City, Kan.
They said they have been able to help other governments to achieve results with their open source civic technology work. In some other cities, students and geeks have created information sites that will, for example, list all information in one place for the public about delinquent properties; or create a tracking system so the public can see exactly where their bus is and when their bus will arrive.
Their ideas also can be used in helping residents and the local government communicate with each other. In Philadelphia last year, a program called Textizen was developed so that the government and the people could send text messages via smart phones, with residents answering with yes and no answers. Mayor Joe Reardon tried a Textizen survey during his State of the UG speech recently. The technology can be used for getting feedback from the public on planning and zoning issues or future plans for locations of parks and facilities, he noted in his speech.
Several other programs were described by the Code for America Fellows, such as a program that helps people get funding for their projects; or even just a better way to report potholes and make 311 calls. According to Code for America representatives, Kansas City, Mo., is already using some of these programs, such as an open data portal showing budget information, or showing traffic counts and signals.
While the tasks are nothing that couldn’t have done otherwise, if they work correctly they could be less labor-intensive and faster for the local governments. The UG is still working with Code for America and more programs through it are expected to be announced later. A volunteer program is expected to continue this work after the Code for America Fellows leave.
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