the troost market collective
This week on the blog, we are featuring a guest contributor! This article was written by the delightful Kara J. of her blog, Keeping Up With The City. You can read more of her posts on her website and you can follow her on Instagram @keepingupwiththecity.
Though, perhaps unspoken, Troost has often been considered the dividing line between the have’s and have-not’s and, consequently, predominantly white neighborhoods from black neighborhoods. The era of Jim Crow and segregation is over; Kansas City is experiencing its largest renaissance in recent memory, and yet we are still among the most economically segregated cities in the US. Troost seems to be the hard separation.
Even as a child, a small black girl trying to fit in with life in the Northland, I remember kids at school and even my mom say, “Troost isn’t a place you want to be at night.” I never knew why. Embarrassingly enough, I still don’t know why, but the uneasiness I felt toward Troost and its phantasmagoric dangers was enough to keep me away.
I should be clear here: crime does, indeed, take place on Troost. Crime takes place everywhere, but the eminence of crime on Troost always sparked visions of a war zone where bullets fly through the air, gang violence is rampant, and sex work is abundant. Perhaps these very rumors of hyperbolized crime inspired Katie Mabry van Dieren, founder of Strawberry Swing, and Crissy Dastrup to create the Troost Market Collective, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to “create equitable economic opportunity for creative entrepreneurs, inspiring future generations through innovative partnerships and programming.” It is a unique revitalization project that leverages the ever popular age of entrepreneurship in an attempt to address the economic, social, and cultural disparities on either side of Troost.
Collaboration as a tool to strengthen communities.
The Troost Market Collective is all about the collaboration of ideas across cultures, ethnicities, race, socioeconomic status, etc. By revitalizing Troost, the Collective hopes to not only restore the area’s rich history, but also create a space for people from all walks of life to share and enjoy creative ideas. The annual fundraiser, Troostapalooza, is the perfect example in which the community comes together to raise funds for the buildings, studios, and store fronts that will eventually line this street. It also serves as an opportunity to showcase lesser known businesses and makers along Troost.
Density of creative ideas that encourage financial stability in historically blighted neighborhoods.
I remember as a kid how Troost used to be so busy and fill of life, decorated by the murals lining the sides of buildings. Driving down Troost now is like navigating a ghost town until you reach the Plaza. Many storefronts have now sat vacant for years, decades, or even perhaps since the beginning of Kansas City’s metropolitan renaissance.
Now that the Troost Market collective decided to take on the challenge, they have plans to install artist studios, community spaces, store fronts, and loft spaces. These additions will not only encourage foot traffic, but also stimulate the economy along Troost and inspire more opportunities for small businesses to set up shop in the area.
Community preservation through economic diversity, mobility, and the entrepreneurial opportunity.
It’s important to note that the Troost Market Collective is seeking to redevelop and revitalize Troost, not gentrify it. To gentrify an area causes a certain level of resistance within the community, especially since it generally takes place in impoverished areas, sending signals to current residents that they are not as important as the money developers stand to make.
Instead, the Collective seeks to install local structures that will not only keep more money in the local economy, but within the Troost community itself in order to promote further growth and self-sustainability.
Equitable development and entrepreneurship that contributes to a vibrant and thriving community.
The Troost Market Collective is looking to preserve the historical significance of Troost while continuing the history of the major thoroughfare by incorporating creative entrepreneurs into the artistic legacy. The hope is that, through community activities and classes, entrepreneurs will provide artistic and business expertise to members of the community and ultimately inspire future generations from all walks of life to pursue their creative passions, whether it be for fun, a side hustle, or day job.
We work diligently to address social and cultural inequity and build authentic relationships.
I don’t think anyone would disagree with me if I were to say that the number of people frequenting shops in Brookside is drastically higher than the number of people frequenting shops along Troost. The small businesses already in operation are pretty amazing, such as PinkLipps Cosmetics, Harvest Moon Botanica, Ruby Jeans Juicery, Blip, and so much more. Is Troost really so notorious that we are too nervous to support the local businesses that populate it? Meanwhile, the Plaza was the subject of a shooting several years ago and people still fill the parking garages nearly every weekend. Is it that anything east of Troost is considered the “black” part of town and white people feel less comfortable penetrating those borders? Whatever the case, building authentic relationships in the community will do the most good to address these disparities.
As the Troost Market Collective continues construction, be on the lookout for updates. Alternatively, visit their website to see how you can help.