Is Your City Ready To Be Novel?

Imagine for a moment that money is no issue, political and social barriers have been removed and before you is a path of complete and total potential. What would you do? Would you empower girls to learn valuable skills regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds? Help an adult learn to read so they could finally get their GED? Change the skyline of your city by providing economic and innovative incentives for business owners, city dwellers and future generations?

This is the question that the 2018 Social Feen Cafe event hosted by the Novel City Chamber of Innovation and facilitated by Monica Kang, CEO of InnovatorsBox in D.C posed to a group of 100 presenters, attendees and businesses. A representative from each invited initiative was given three minutes to show what they would do in Kansas City to change the future and challenge the status quo if money and politics were of no consideration. After an awesome kick-off by Mayor Sly James, the morning opened with an eye-opening talk by Monica Kang herself.

Monica Kang speaking on Creativity

She challenged everyone to “solve for creativity” by using the creativity function. She outlined the key components of tapping into and reaching our own internal creativity and showed everyone how business and social problems can be solved through the right mix of Knowledge, Imagination and Evaluation. Those three pieces get you to Creativity and that, she says, is the key to our individual and combined success.

Once the speakers took the stage, the results were inspiring and, ultimately, didn’t require that we dream all that big. The day was filled with diverse ideas that presented real problems with real results and goals that were organized, well thought out and entirely attainable. Interestingly enough, the majority of the ideas focused on the key concept of access. Access to information, to mentors, to grants and funding, to community itself.

“Our objective is to be a place that helps mold and encourage young ladies to talk freely about concerns or problems they may be facing. The Mentors at DREAMS “Girls Talk” program will educate young ladies on proper etiquette, financial awareness, leadership, success, worth value and introduce them to the powers of community service.” -T. EnStacia White

DREAMS Workshop in a Box Kits which are designed by T. EnStacia White to get educational materials and mentorship opportunities into the hands of young girls who are currently facing social and economic hardships. By providing them with access to resources at an early age, these girls can grow up to be women in leadership roles that break poverty cycles, glass ceilings and destroy social expectations. You can learn more about T. EnStacia and her initiatives here: https://www.dreamsorg.com/

“The Building Better Stories campaign will allow us to not only increase numbers served in all of our current programs, but also allow us to introduce two new programs…that will teach the skills needed to build a better story for everyone.” -Building Better Stories Campaign

John Teasdale & Tish Sjuts with LiteracyKC also had a theme of access. Access to mentors and the valuable skill of literacy and reading comprehension. Their presentation focused on their “Building Better Stories” campaign as well as their expansion into a new building at 3036 Troost Ave in Kansas City and highlighted key case studies from community members, entrepreneurs and parents who have had their lives changed by being given access to literacy. You can learn more about their initiatives and expansion, as well as how to become an active volunteer or mentor, here: http://literacykc.org/

“We’ve never focused on our riverfront from a business standpoint. It’s always been a dream but we’ve never quite gotten there…What we want to do is invite you to come and join us in your park. It is where Kansas City began. It doesn’t matter who you are, what your belief system or structure looks like, where your family comes from — we want you to come and join us.” -Stefan White

Friends of the River Kansas City took the stage as well with a vision of what Kansas City’s Berkley Riverfront Park was intended to be and how it was intended to provide access to commerce, entertainment and community on both sides of our beautiful city, not act as a barrier.

Executive Director Stefan White spread the message that by looking back at the dreamers and city planners of the 1940s, 50s and 60’s up through the 80s we can envision and define our future for Kansas City as a city of innovation. You can join the “park party people” down at the river for one of their many events and fundraisers by visiting https://www.forkc.org for more information!

Kansas City and cities like it across the globe are working tirelessly to lay the foundation for the next generation. We’re dreamers, builders and visionaries that want to see our homes and communities become the best they can be. The key to this future we collectively strive for and dream of relies on our ability to build each other up while advocating for equality, access and a strong sense of community for us all.

As the NovelCity Chamber states, “NovelCity is a term referring to the community of innovation and risk-taking that is necessary for a city to truly thrive and grow.” The thought-leaders and entrepreneurs at the SocialFeen Cafe event exemplified the kind of leadership and drive required to make Kansas City truly novel. You can learn more about their initiatives here: http://www.novelcitychamber.com/.

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