The power of youth: Young adults should lead the push for sustainability

Johanna Poppel

How can young adults change a stubborn society?

Last Thursday, the local City Planning and Development Department held a meeting to discuss the Midtown and Plaza areas at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at 11 E. 40th Street.

Between 1950 and 2010, the area has lost 60 percent of its population.

While 40 percent of the area’s population is from ages 20-34, that group was poorly represented at the community meeting.

City planners and attendees emphasized the importance of the opinions of the younger generation. After all, it is our home for the future and our opinion carries weight in how our community develops.

The area plan is under the policy of the FOCUS Kansas City Plan, to develop future land use, zoning, public improvements, transportation, housing and economic development.

Approximately four-to-five groups of about 30 people formed to share their opinions of future development, which were recorded and will be used as a reference for city planners.

Three questions were asked:

  • Why do you choose to live and/or do business in this area?
  • What concerns do you have for the future of this area?
  • What do you want to see in the area for the future?

It was an interesting experience to see community members interact and share why they love their neighborhood and what they want to see change.

I was happy to see environmentally sustainable infrastructure and resources were common themes among the few young people there.

Many suggested the need for bike lanes, improved sidewalks more accessible public transportation and more trees along streets. The interest for sustainable infrastructure was there, but the representation and voice were missing.

The Midtown and Plaza areas have many cultural assets and a diverse realm of people, businesses and public space.

They have the potential to develop into thriving neighborhoods supportive of students and young adults.

I encourage students to engage in the community, address concerns to city leaders and discuss urban issues..

We, as young people, have the power to improve our neighborhoods and mold them into the change we want to see in the world.

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