KCMO Street Grid Shirts, Round 2

The time has come!

Five (5!) years have passed since the first run of KCMO street grid t-shirts and, after several requests, it’s time to do another run.

This time I’m working with the folks over at Normal Human and handling it a little differently. There are more options to choose from! More details on the form link below, but basically you’ll have a choice of a unisex tri-blend tee, a unisex v-neck tee or a women’s v-neck tee and in a wide range of colors. Two options for ink color this time – blue or light grey – on your choice of tee style and color.

$16/shirt for all styles and colors to cover cost of shirt, setup fees, etc.

The color options are listed in the form, but here’s a mockup of each style of shirt available:


Here’s the link to order:

(orders closed)

I’ll send paypal invoices in waves, so please pay those promptly – I have to put down money at the beginning to get the order going, so anyone who hasn’t paid their invoice won’t be included in the order. (edited to add: venmo or the cash app are also options – just indicate a preference on the order form.)

Let me know if you have questions! And, if this isn’t your part of town, send me an email and I can tell you how I made these so you can make your own!

The State Line Hoodie

Update 2: Form is reopened here until 6/1: [form closed!]

Update: we’ve reached the minimum order! Closing down the order form Sunday night, 4/13. If you’ve already ordered, expect an invoice early next week.

It’s been a year since the KC Street Grid shirt made its debut and there was always a second project I wanted to do – the state line hoodie. Finally, I’m getting off my butt and doing it!




This is a mockup – it’ll be on a very lightweight American Apparel hoodie and only offered in black. Please note: this is basically a long-sleeved t-shirt weight – this is not a fleece-lined sweatshirt. More of an overshirt, if you will.

The lines are county and highway. Notably, the only line that doesn’t actually exist on the design (until it jogs along the Missouri River) is the state line. That’s on the zipper – symbolic of the line that so well divides us but is physically invisible.

Pricing on this one will be around $25 and I need a minimum order to make it happen, so let me know if you’re interested by filling out this handy dandy form: (form closed)

walking a mile in someone else’s paradigm

People always seem to be going up and down aisles and streets looking for closer parking – except when they’re at sporting events. Somehow, the sea of parking is comforting – you’ll walk in a lot for an undetermined distance and it seems okay because you’re headed toward the stadium. Get to a downtown area or a shopping mall, though, and if you’re more than 10 spots back you’re sure there’s another spot somewhere closer.

I used RunKeeper to determine how far I walked from the car to the gate at two separate games at Sporting Park in the past week, both times parking in season ticket holder parking. The first game, we were 0.51 miles from the gate. The second, 0.83 miles. I took a (sort of) average of 0.70 miles and said, as the crow flies, how far away could I park from other venues in Kansas City and still have walked the same distance?

Here we have it – 0.70 mile radius circles over Sporting Park (Kansas City, KS), the Sprint Center (Kansas City, MO), the Truman Sports Complex (Kansas City, MO) and Oak Park Mall (Overland Park, KS).

Context is everything.

Loop_tracts1Sporting Park

Loop_tracts2Sprint Center

Loop_tracts3Truman Sports Complex

Loop_tracts4 Oak Park Mall

KC Street Grid Shirts

3/29 update: Miss out on the original order? Get yours here! http://lacucarachapress.bigcartel.com/product/kansas-city-street-grid-t-shirt

3/9 update: Form is closed for orders – pay your invoices!

3/8 update: Today is the last day to order! The form will stop taking replies around midnight tonight. Please pay the PayPal invoice when you receive it – this order is huge and requires a deposit, don’t leave me hanging! ūüôā

I’ve tried to post info a few places on this, but I needed to be able to put it all in one place, so here it is!

I wanted to buy a tshirt with the Kansas City street grid on it. I searched for one and couldn’t find one, so I decided I was going to make one myself. I told a few people and they seemed interested in one as well, so I decided why not make a whole bunch and let people order them too? And here we are.

Two options: blue with white ink or grey with black ink – like so:



These will be on high-quality 100% ringspun cotton tees (Alternative Apparel), and the price will be $15/tee. I will leave the pre-order form open until Friday, March 8th, so if you know someone you think might be interested, send it to them quickly! If you’ve already ordered before both color options were available, never fear – I’ll be in touch soon regarding which option you’d prefer.

Here’s a link to the form: [order period closed]

Order away!

Edited to add: The lovely gents over at La Cucaracha Press are making these for me, and have so far been fantastic to work with!

the automobile: the original individual mandate?

Ever since the Affordable Care Act was passed, there have been people fighting to repeal it, arguing that it will raise the cost of pizza, and the “individual mandate” made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court (and survived). The Individual Mandate was a controversial piece of the legislation, in short requiring that everyone carry health insurance or pay a fine for not doing so.

I was thinking about a trip I’m making to Wichita later this month and how my options are limited on how to get there. How it seemed like government policy over the years, starting with the “greatest public works project in history,” the Interstate System, is considered one of government’s greatest accomplishments, but how it has ended up reducing funding available for other forms of transportation, thus requiring Americans to own cars to make it from place to place even within their own city boundaries.

And it makes me wonder.

Is the automobile the original “individual mandate”?

Prior to the rise of the automobile, streetcar systems existed, municipal buses ran frequently, and pedestrians and bicycles were accepted and expected on streets. Once the car began taking over, the streets became less hospitable to non-motorized transportation and the cries of public transit not funding itself often drown out those that understand that the highways also don’t pay for themselves.

So where does that leave someone who doesn’t want to own a car, especially in a place outside the five boroughs or downtown Chicago?

Seemingly rather short of luck.

The average American way of life has evolved to a point where it is nearly necessary for a person who wants to be able to travel between destinations on a schedule to own their own vehicle. The Interstate System has made it easier to travel between cities on an individual basis, and the popularity of cars (among other things) ate away at the availability of passenger rail service. ¬†Intercity buses don’t run nearly as often. Federal funding has long supported the roads-and-highways approach over a more holistic view of transportation that considers the movement of goods and people, not just the movement of vehicles.

Public transit is making a comeback in a lot of places, and the generational differences in many realms are beginning to show as Millenials enter the workforce and property-buying market in higher numbers, but it is still incredibly difficult to exist in many places without a car. I couldn’t make it to my soccer games, dance classes, or graduate classes using mass transit right now, and I live in the middle of the city. This also speaks to the sprawling development that has taken place, and without requisite density, transit just doesn’t make sense. All of this piles on to make an automobile a must-own for residents of most places. The “fine” in this case is either the increase in the amount of time spent traveling between destinations because of limited transit service, or the cost of ownership of a vehicle (which, when examined, really is staggering).

So, has policy over the years essentially made the automobile an unofficial “individual mandate”? Maybe with a little more active transportation, we wouldn’t need quite so much health care in the first place.

A Day of Firsts in Joplin, MO

Today I went to Joplin.

First number one: I had never been to Joplin, MO before.¬† I have a good friend here in KC who is from there, and her family still lives there, but I hadn’t made the trip yet.¬† Sort of wish it had been under better circumstances, but it is what it is.

Last Sunday, May 22nd, Joplin was hit by an EF-5 tornado.  I had to force myself not to go down to help sooner, but respected the wishes of the city that called for only first responders and trained medical volunteers for the first 5-6 days after the storm.  Finally, on Friday the email came down to all who had registered online to volunteer that they were now welcome.  I signed up for a shift for Monday afternoon and proceeded to acquire work gloves, release forms, and other volunteer necessities.

First number two: I have never volunteered on the ground immediately following a natural disaster of this magnitude.¬† The pictures don’t really prepare you to be standing in the middle of what used to be a neighborhood.¬† Sifting through personal belongings of a family I’ve never met, looking up and seeing nothing but blocks of similar devastation – it’s surreal.¬† Driving into town, the north side of Joplin was virtually untouched by the storm.¬† In some neighborhoods, houses were swept off foundations across the street from houses with minimal roof damage.¬† Then there were scenes like this:


That red object is a couch wrapped around a tree – and two patio chairs immediately behind it, arranged exactly as they were before the storm hit.¬† Driving through Joplin today was interesting – traffic moved slowly, as though everyone was just stunned to be driving through and seeing the damage on all sides.¬† I didn’t take nearly as many pictures as I could have – I wanted to capture everything, but I was there to help, not to gawk, so I tried to keep my photo-taking to a minimum.

First number two point five: Sort of related to the above, but I had never seen some of the practices towns use in the aftermath of a storm like this for insurance assessment and safety purposes.¬† Each house had a giant spray painted X on it to indicate it had been searched for survivors, which I had seen before.¬† One I hadn’t seen, though, was the practice of writing the insurance company each vehicle and structure is insured by to make it easier for the assessors to determine what to look at, like so:

This car had part of the house in it – a pile of bricks in the front passenger seat, and if you look closely, a brick wedged in the steering wheel.¬† There was evidence that the residents still have a sense of humor, though.¬† In front of one destroyed business, a sign that said “Closed for Remodeling.”¬† Spray painted on the front of a house – “For sale cheap – open floorplan, natural lighting.”¬† It was refreshing to be able to smile, and to know that people were still joking, amidst a landscape of such devastation.

First number three: Someone in my busload of volunteers asked me why I had come down to help, and I had to explain it for the first time.¬† When the storm hit on Sunday, I felt this eerie sense of deja vu from Greensburg, KS 4 years ago this month.¬† I was working at the television station at the time and watched the tornado move through Greensburg on radar in 2007 just as I watched the tornado move through Joplin last Sunday, this time from home.¬† Having visited Greensburg two years later and seeing how much work was still to be done, I felt an incredibly strong pull to go help in Joplin as much as I could.¬† Other than my friend that lives in KC, I have no ties to Joplin.¬† However, as someone who chases storms and did a stint as a meteorologist, I couldn’t ignore the videos, stories and photographs.¬† Working there for several hours today, it was incredibly rewarding to feel as though I had helped, but equally as frustrating to see how it barely scratched the surface.¬† I’m still not sure I’m able to put my reasons for wanting to help into words, but that’s about as close as I can get.

First number four: I helped reunite a older couple with their cat.¬† Granted, this had something to do with being at the right place at the right time, but my group of volunteers helped a woman find her cat in the basement of their demolished house.¬† The woman hadn’t seen her cat since the storm came through over a week ago, and seeing her hold the cat in her arms for the first time was more touching than I would have expected.¬† We were only able to find one of her two cats that were missing, but the fact that the cat was alive was incredible and gave me hope that others will still be reunited with their animals despite the length of time that has passed since the storm.

First number five: This one seems trivial compared to the others, but this is the first time I’ve solely used the camera on my cell phone to take photos of an event.¬† I brought a point and shoot with me, but it stayed in my bag.¬† It was also remarkably easy to upload the photos from my phone to picasa, which I was pleasantly surprised about.¬† The entire gallery can be found here.

There are huge pieces of today that I’m leaving out for brevity’s sake, but the work being done by the volunteer coordinators in Joplin is thankless and impressive. Americorps, United Way, American Red Cross, the city of Joplin – they’re all doing an amazing job doing important work and keeping people informed on the progress.¬† To be able to drive down every street to reach houses a few days after a storm of that magnitude is impressive by itself, let alone the speed at which infrastructure is being replaced to make cleanup safer.¬† So, thank you to those groups for making it possible for someone like me to come help out for a day.¬† I will most definitely be back.