a charlotte street 15 year anniversary project considering the history and future of artist-driven pioneering in Kansas City and the changing nature of the city's "frontiers"
Kansas City settlers came in droves from old Europe, and met with the unimaginably vast areas of the American Wilderness.
Although they brought with them a heritage that included the notion of common wealth, the drive that has preoccupied most citizens since that time has been the accumulation of personal property and its associated withdrawal from general use. To be fair, this is clearly a global phenomenon in many respects, but it seems to be particularly marked in pioneer cultures in which either the concept or the reality of a frontier has called out the urge to civilize, tame, enclose and commodify. The last step of commodification almost always trumps common rights.
As this city has changed from a meeting of the trails, to a cowtown, to an increasingly sophisticated urban center, we are more often encountering phenomena such as gentrification, the privatization of public space, and restrictions on “intellectual property” associated with professionalization within the “creative industries”.
Are the boundaries between public and private spaces shifting, or changing in nature to become normalized as exclusive rather than inclusive? Are Kansas City’s urban boundaries changing from edges that define a community to ones that fragment it? Who will remember where the boundaries of common rights used to be, who will notice the erosions and call them out for public scrutiny? Where are watching and resistance happening that will avoid such outcomes in our city?