Sunday, March 22, 2009

Castles in the Sky over Kansas City

Moving from California to Kansas City, I noticed that space is less of an issue. But after the last couple weeks I'm beginning to think that space is no issue at all. If you have a idea for a project that thrives in the public eye, but doesn't have a budget, then you can set up shop in Kansas City's finest unused storefronts rent-free "until something better comes along."

I've been super excited about Westport recently. For those who don't know, Westport is a district of Kansas City. It was a launching point of the Oregon, Lewis & Clark, Santa Fe and California trails. It is home to the best coffee shop, movie theater and ice cream in Kansas City. It's a 10 minute walk from our apartment. But like many commercial districts, it hasn't been doing so hot recently. I think Westport's master cleanse has gone far enough!

Informal community projects and formal business communities can build relationships that let everyone get to work. Awesome projects keep storefronts bright for the passing public. They fill the gaps in a district's smile. They can drive traffic for neighboring businesses. There is even potential for rent-free occupancies to reduce a land owner's tax and insurance liability. Everyone gets to do what they do best.

Our favorite faux-public access kids show Whoop Dee Doo built a float for the St. Pat's parade in Westport...

Books for the Planet and Operation Breakthrough each collected then sold donated materials in Westport storefronts. Sales from Books for the Planet benefited the Kansas City Gay & Lesbian Filmmaker's Fund.

Operation Breakthrough's sales "help children who are living in poverty develop to their fullest potential by providing them a safe, loving and educational environment."

I want to build Castles in the Sky over Kansas City. I am serious about this.

I want to inflate full-scale castles on Kansas City's most prominent vacant lots. I'm talking about multi-story bounce-houses, Crystal Palaces that glow emerald at night and sustainable biodome residences for public living. (Post your inflatable castle design in the comments!)

I want to develop a way of rolling plastic grocery bags together into very long sheets. I anticipate working with neighborhoods, real-estate companies, city departments, friends and strangers to design, produce, install and maintain iconic block-parties over Kansas City.

And a healthy workstyle will continue support our Sunday family dinners and breakfasts in the conservatory.

This is similar to:
A London suburb's response to empty storefronts.
The media collective Ant Farm's inflatables of the 1970's.
The annual ice palaces of Montreal.
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  1. these are great ideas and very inspirational. i should talk to you about what implications these possibilities these could have for the infoshop, if anything.

    i'm not sure if something like the infoshop can get that kind of support! but we certainly could use help with paying the bills.

  2. of interest?:,29307,1884100_1854539,00.html,28804,1884779_1884782_1884756,00.html

    lots of love,

  3. Flannery: these links are awesome. i tagged them both. The first was so beautiful. I want to see that "Value City" building turned into a movie studio.

    Stephanie: I'll message you to set up a meeting.

  4. i can has leave brooklyn NOW!

  5. heya jamie and julia! i just discovered your blog and am overwhelmed with how much neat stuff i have to sift through this afternoon!

    if either of you feel inclined:

    i post under both galaxy san juan & arlan igo. miss seeing you guys!