Phase I began with a partnership between the Foundation for Regeneration (“FFR”), Industrial Development Authority (“IDA”), and Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City (“EDCKC”) to take another look at the Blue River Valley. The key deliverable was the Phase I Discovery Report. The BRV report studies the last 100 years of history integrating perspectives of industry, community, and nature. It updates the 2017 completion status for all recommendations in the 2017 Redevelopment Opportunity Assessment and shares notable developments and the status of regional assets within the BRV footprint. The document proposed changes to the boundaries to include the surrounding neighborhoods and added depth to the concept of Ecodustrial with national comparables and applied economic theory. Finally, it offered a revised intervention roadmap going forward; citing building blocks for the next economy and pilot projects worth investing in to create generational value.
Phase II followed with a series of 10 Pilots meant to stimulate momentum using a methodology Bob has utilized called “urban acupuncture” prototyped by him and the late Jaime Lerner who authored a book of the same name. These urban acupuncture points focused at the intersection of economic development, community empowerment, and ecological health in the BRV footprint. See maps here.
You can read about the pilots here. We believe these transformational pilots will serve as catalysts to build regenerative economies in Kansas City’s Blue River Valley and beyond. That brings the total raised to date to be $875k.
Download the Blue River Valley Report
Mapping the Terrain
The Place: Historically, the Blue River Valley was once a source of abundant clean water, rich soil for farming, and a favorite playground for Kansas Citians enjoying fishing, water sports, houseboats, and restaurants. The industrial age brought great change to the river and surrounding neighborhoods; where industry (Ford, GM, Fisher Body) selected riverside sites and brought jobs and economic activity but, over time, converted the once pristine river and surrounding land into a toxic wasteland. As the industrial businesses left, so did the jobs supporting the surrounding neighborhoods. The Blue River Valley – which was once a nature lover destination and thriving industrial community – is now in serious economic decline with an uncertain future. This is ground zero for our work.
Focus: The outcomes of the ongoing dialogue of discovery and pilots inform our emergent approach to scale. We believe that by focusing on understanding the hyperlocal in Kansas City within the greater Midwest region, we can make sense of and iterate on nature based solutions and the corresponding programs that are relevant nationally. We are focused on enabling “Climate Smart Economic Development” or “Building Regenerative Economies.” As such, the Foundation for Regeneration’s portfolio focuses at the intersection of Regenerative Land Management, Circular Economy, and Financial Innovation.
BRV Pilot Highlights (non exhaustive list):
- Microgrants: So far $2,500 1x and $12,500 2x provided to each of Eastwood Hills, Dunbar, and Noble neighborhood associations. These funds have supported school meals, urban agriculture, revenue generating venues, and basic needs like wifi, printer, security. Each neighborhood self defined what they most needed for use of funds.
- National Center for Economic Gardening (6 companies): Completed the inaugural cohort of Stage 2 Companies (more than 10 employees and USD $1 – 50 million in revenue) to participate in the National Center for Economic Gardening Program. Includes Missouri Organic, Urban Lumber Co, Habitat Architects, Ruby Jean’s Juicery, Blue Chip Waterproofing, and Clay & Bailey. There is a short presentation on deliverables for each company.
- Circular Economy Venture Studio: Agreements between Metabolic.nl and KCMO Public Works to build a Material Flows Analysis for the entire city of Kansas City, MO. See an example Metabolic’s report performed for Charlotte, North Carolina here. The material flows applied research will be combined with a venture development studio for local waste stream diversion into value added products/uses with a working group of multidisciplinary subject matter experts and business owners.
- Seed Eco-home Affordable Housing: In December 2022, OSE led a workforce development program where 17 people were paid $30-$50 to construct the world’s first production Seed Eco-Home within city limits—an affordable, rapidly built, high performance single family home. The donated funds combined with a private loan of allowed OSE to do two builds at different sizes. Expectations for sale for the first house is Summer 2023. BNIM provided feedback with support from Novo Foundation.Worth watching Dr. Marcin Jacoboski’s TED talk.