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Rebuilding 9th Street Together

Please visit the official project website to keep updated with community meetings, project progress, and more information.


Rebuilding 9th Street

How to move forward with the East 9th Street project may seem fraught with difficulty due to its contentious past, but what if we viewed what happened as an event that allowed us to see circumstances anew, and act to change them for the better?

Like rebuilding after a storm, or adjusting to an unexpected tragedy, we could see the East 9th St. project not only as a failure or loss but as an opportunity to create new ties, fortify important relationships, and develop more sustainable and equitable planning processes.

Artists like scientists often learn most from experiments or projects that don’t go as planned. It is in those moments, when they reflect most deeply and honestly, and open themselves to solutions previously unseen. This also happens in the aftermath of some natural disasters as Rebecca Solnit writes in her book “A Paradise Built in Hell.” Communities are often at their most creative, collaborative, and empathetic at times of disaster, she says. Why? Because in order to recover and plan for the future, they need each other. And this can lead to new ways of working together and new solutions to formerly intractable problems.

We are in a similar situation with the East 9th Street project. New circumstances provide an opportunity to reevaluate and rebuild – the street, mutual trust, and a measure of shared agency and responsibility. The alternative would be to ignore or try to forget what happened, hiding the wounds but not trying to heal them. Instead, we could re-imagine this perceived failure as a platform to explore the fundamental issues that bind and challenge us, and then act to address them with new strategies led by artists and neighbors. The process of this work would likely be healing in and of itself. It also might reveal new pathways to more equitable and sustainable solutions to the questions East 9th Street has raised. By building new more equitable processes, developing better more transparent communication and empowering artists and neighbors to collaborate, this project could become a model for future arts-based cultural development in Lawrence.