Kansas City, KS (KCK) sits at the heart of a nation but lacks a central home to showcase the Orenda or spirit of a place in the Wyandotte dialect. KCK, like many urban communities, suffers population decline, property devaluation and decreased public health and is working to redefine and to energize its depressed downtown. To help redevelopment, KCK and its many partners are creating a community gathering space that hosts a farmer’s market, performing, culinary and visual arts that reconnect surrounding neighborhoods on a pedestrian scale.
This square will host the full spectrum of the arts, from visual to performing. Rotating sculpture exhibitions will be incorporated around the “town square”, welcoming local and regional artists to showcase their work to the adjacent neighborhoods and the entire KC region. Murals will be added to reflect the rich immigrant history of the area and the deep cultural heritage and attract visitors to the space. In addition, the pavilion’s design and the streetscape will reflect the area’s natural heritage to further the connection to place. All art aspects of the project will be managed by a design committee for the arts formed as part of the development process for this front porch to KCK. The committee will ensure the spirit of the community lives beyond the timeframe of the initial art programming funded through the grant. The Orenda Square project brings sustainable art programming into a community with the lowest health ranking in the State of Kansas. A new coop grocery store development planned on the same block supports the farmer’s market, much needed access to healthy foods, and community event space.