August 3rd, 2004


visioneering wichita

The city is having these cute little town meeting things for this program called "Visioneering Wichita". I'm not altogether sure what the point is... mostly it's coming up with ideas that would make our city better and areas we need to improve in and then prioritizing like crazy. Anyway, there was a meeting in my area tonight so I thought "what the heck" and joined in the fun.

There were like 200 of us and we broke up into 15 groups or so. In our small groups, we thought of ideas and things that our city needed. I was actually pretty happy with the results. Part of me was afraid it'd be filled with parents who wanted better education ("hold teachers accountable, education is blah blah blah") but it wasn't, it was just random concerned citizens like myself. We decided Wichita needed better public transportation, a recycling program, more housing options, a more diverse workforce (right now we really still live and die with the aircraft industry, which nobody is happy about), even preventing urban sprawl. Shit, I thought everyone besides me loved urban sprawl!

Someone said that we needed to kill Wichita's "inferiority complex" and it was like a new light in the room... we all knew exactly what he was talking about. We're practically conditioned here to think that this is a little, crappy, blue-collar town with nothing to do, when there's nothing further from the truth. Wichita is a really great place to live. Nobody in the country would think of us that way... we're ultra-conservatives and under-educated, I hear it all the time. But the visioneering consultant guy said we're well ahead of the national average in terms of the percentage of adults with at least some college education. He also told us that Wichita was weird because everytime you ask someone in Wichita how big we are, we answer, "350,000 people," because there are in fact 350,000 people living in the Wichita city limits. Other cities in the nation usually "see" their population differently though - as the outlying areas. Kansas City people even claim outlying states. We're a community of 500,000 people when you look at it that way, but nobody here ever looks at it that way, we're all just stuck.

So, just for the fun of it, and to remind me and everybody how much I love my town (and after tonight I know I'm not the only one), here's a list:

Spacefem's Eight Great Things About Wichita

  1. Fly 92.7 is the coolest radio station ever, and it's even still local, not corporate-owned.
  2. Warren Theaters the owner would have made a bad mayor, but he makes a great movie theater. it's still $7.00 a ticket max ($5.00 for matinee and students, $2.00 at the cheap theaters) and concessions are reasonable.
  3. Riverfest the annual festival. You can't miss it - there's parades and art fairs and concerts and the whole bit.
  4. Old Town we still have a single downtown place to party, where all the bars are. Lots of cool local places, bands that play outside, ample parking.
  5. Villiage Flea Market maybe I just love flea markets, I dunno, but this is the biggest and best one ever. no better way to spend saturday.
  6. The Zoo I love zoos - I've been to the sacramento one now in addition to Kansas City, Topeka, and St. Louis. St. Louis still has a mighty fine zoo, but the others are nothing in comparison to the Sedgwick County zoo, right up the street from me. It's perfectly laid out with tons of exibits.
  7. The Eagle Our newspaper does a fantastic job of making this feel like a close-knit community (of half a million people). They publish my letters (yay for that!), have the funniest most random opinion line ever, do a great job on the Friday GO! section so we know what's going on. They're a little biased sometimes (earlier this week they quoted Kerry as saying, "I do not want to claim that God is on our side". and that was the quote. they left off the other half. they got a letter about that... not from me, but it was funny)
  8. The River The Arkansas (pronounced are-kan-sass, thank you very much) winds through the west side. my usericon pic is of one of the bridge sculptures. there's a bike path so you can go all the way down it. very fun.

I can think of lots of other great things... the fact that you can drive anywhere in the city in 30 minutes, the Chelsea restaurant, the museums on the river, but it all boils down to the fact that I'm reminded again and again how nice this city really is. I'd be happy never leaving here. Sure, other cities have good zoos and rivers and newspapers but I've lived in those cities, they're not like Wichita. Here, you feel like you know everybody. You go to the theater, and run into people you work with or go to church with. Everyone has circles and winds into what's going on. It's really nice and I really like it.