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IndieFit Magazine - the Voice of the New Kansas City » Features http://indiefitmagazine.com The Voice of the New Kansas City Fri, 08 Jan 2016 16:32:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.3.21 http://indiefitmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/cropped-icon-150x150.png » Features http://indiefitmagazine.com 32 32 Sandra Hillen’s Wild Ride to the 2018 Winter Olympics http://indiefitmagazine.com/2015/12/01/sandra-hillens-wild-ride-to-the-2018-winter-olympics/ http://indiefitmagazine.com/2015/12/01/sandra-hillens-wild-ride-to-the-2018-winter-olympics/#comments Tue, 01 Dec 2015 04:00:29 +0000 http://indiefitmagazine.com/?p=3429 Overland Park Snowboarder Fosters Olympics Dreams on Both Side of the Broder

by Japhi Westerfield

AT THE TOP OF STONEHAM MOUNTAIN OUTSIDE OF QUEBEC CITY, CANADA, OVERLAND PARK NATIVE Sandra Hillen crouched down low and tried to get a better read on a crazy shape-shifting wind that couldn’t decide whether to become a full-force gale or remain a measly upslope annoyance. She jumped around to keep warm, to keep loose, to do something with the energy she’d carefully bottled up for this day. But mostly she just waited, and if you’re an elite athlete used to flying down mountains faster than some people drive, waiting can be dangerous.

She’d made it here – to the pinnacle of slope-style snowboarding – because of a gift, an affinity for rocketing down heart-pounding mountain runs interrupted by steep jumps, jibs, bumps, and rails. For years she’d organized her life around time on the mountain. But she was also here because, as child growing up in Kansas, she quickly outgrew the puny sled hills near the Oak Park Mall, watched the Winter X-Games so many times her family hid the remote, and nearly wore out her Playstation playing Cool Boarders 2. When she got her first taste of mountain adrenaline on a prairie ski run north of Kansas City, her fate was sealed. So she stood on that mountain – on the brink of qualifying for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia – because the unusual path that had taken her from Overland Park to Boulder, Breckenridge, and the Cascade mountains also took a very unexpected detour through a country indelibly written into the DNA of her family, though not into the mainstream of elite winter sports.

Sandra Hillen’s mother, Gloria Hillen, was born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico. Along with her uncle and sister Clara Reyes (founder of Kansas City’s Dos Mundos Hispanic newspaper), Gloria moved to Kansas City as a young woman. Sandra grew up in Overland Park and attended Holy Spirit Elementary and St. Thomas Aquinas High School. She was an exceptionally active kid, driven to sports. She tried basketball and soccer. She was a decent cross country runner. She liked sledding, but like the other kids in her neighborhood, was nothing more than a serious hobbyist. For some reason she had a fascination with mountains and thought she might like alpine sports. But she didn’t set foot above 8000 feet until she turned 15.

Kansas City in the 1990’s was not a nurturing place for budding alpinists. Those years included some of the warmest winters on record, including the winter of 1999-2000, which had an average high of 48 degrees between October and April and virtually no snowfall.

But Winter sports were making their way into the mindsets of Americans whether or not they lived in the Snowbelt. The Winter X games — a melding of MTV and ESPN that showcased a punkinspired array of adrenalinefueled events — came along and helped launch snowboarding into the mainstream. Watching the X Games, Hillen first saw the half pipe, an event with more kinship to skateboarding than traditional alpine events. She also saw slope-style, which combines the acrobatics of half pipe with the downhill velocity of skiing. Hillen fueled her growing attraction to the idea of mountain sports with a healthy dose of Cool Boarders 2, an early Playstation game developed in Japan. She begged her parents to try snowboarding, for real this time, but her parents weren’t the problem.

“We didn’t have much snowboarding in Kansas City,” she said.

“None really.”

Kansas City didn’t have any snowboarding culture, but it did have Snow Creek, a small clutch of lifts and trails carved into loess hills along the Missouri River outside of Weston, Missouri, a tiny hamlet better known for tobacco farming, O’Malley’s subterranean Irish pub, and an annual Apple Festival than the culture of extreme sports or Winter X games. Parents take note: feed your children’s dreams. When Hillen told her parents she wanted to snowboard, they started taking her to Snow Creek. There she got a taste of what the riding life could be. It was like sledding, but now she had control. Snow Creek was great but had its limits, so the next winter her family organized their winter vacation around Sandra’s new passion and made a ski trip to Colorado. It was Hillen’s first actual trip to the mountains, and they exceeded her expectations. She was smitten with the dry brittle air, the dramatic clouds that swirl up like fog and then dump furies of snow, the porcupines that hang out at the tops of beetle-killed white pine. After a few runs on traditional skies, Hillen jumped on a snowboard for the first time. Soon she was riding every winter.

After high school, she moved 500 miles west to Boulder to study film production at the University of Colorado. At the time, Boulder was the center of a running scene started by resident Olympic Marathon gold medalist Frank Shorter which was quietly developing into a trail running mecca that would go viral in the mid-2000s with the release of Christopher McDougall’s classic book Born to Run. But it was also a descent snowboarding town. At CU, Hillen joined the school’s snowboarding team. Though technically not a collegiate sport, the team allowed athletes to learn the sport and train with coaches. Soon Hillen said snowboarding was “consuming my life.” She adjusted her class schedule to get as many days on the mountain as possible. She read zines, hung out with other riders, watched YouTube videos, hit dry land practice hard before the snow fell, and jumped for hours on trampolines. Every day she made sure to do something to improve her riding.

The hard work paid off. She entered her first USASA (United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association) regional contest in Colorado. At the time, USASA was the only real governing body putting on regional contests in the Rockies. The Winter X Games have made snowboarding popular as an exciting new extreme sport for adrenaline junkies, but regional competitions put on by groups like the USASA helped solidify it as a respected sport.

Hillen quickly made an impact on the scene and towards the end of her college years became a regular on podiums in the slope-style event. By the time she was 23, Hillen had stepped up her game and won a series of USASA events. She created a video resume, landed her first sponsor, and decided after college to spend winters in Breckenridge, a town known for altitude-tipsy tourists, an iconic brewery, two of the best alt format radio stations in America, and a culture of elite competitive riding. She found summer work at High Cascade Snowboard Camp in Oregon. By splitting her time between Breck, Kansas City, and Oregon, she was able to ride and train year-round.

High Cascade Snowboard Camp has a week-long school for adult riders, and one night Hillen found herself talking to a camper named Francis Dirren. He knew of Hillen’s reputation as an up-andcoming rider. After a few beers he asked her if she planned to make a run at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Hillen knew those Olympics would debut her event, slope-style, but she’d never seriously considered it. Though she was improving, USASA events were a level below World Cup, which Hillen hadn’t yet broken into. At least a half dozen girls had more experience and success than Hillen in Colorado.

That’s when Hillen’s unexpected detour came, and instead of slowing her down, it put her on the fast track to a shot at the Olympics. Dirren wanted to know if she was gunning for the Olympic team but not the US Olympic team. His friend Alberto DelaRoca was assembling a Mexican National team in Colorado. Winter athletes from all over the world train in the Rockies, and Mexico currently had no woman slated for slopestyle. Hillen considered it for a moment, then had another beer. The idea might have legs, she thought. If everything fell into place quickly, she wouldn’t have to wait six or ten more years to get enough experience for a real shot at the team. She could be there in time for Sochi. Hillen’s mother was born in Mexico, and Hillen herself had spent several summers there as a child. Since she qualified for dual citizenship, she could represent her ancestral Mexico in the Olympics. If she could qualify.

After a round of tryouts back in Colorado, DelaRoca made Hillen’s case to the Mexican Olympic Committee. They decided to back her. Joining the Mexican national team was a paradigm shift, like a band moving from Stage 5 at Winfield to Saturday night at Coachella. Companies like Zeal Optics, GNU snowboards, Vans boots, Airblaster, Celtek, and Wend Waxworks sponsored her. Hillen doubled down on her training, got a new coach and a shot at her first World Cup competition, which coincidentally was held in Colorado.

People came from all over the world to compete in the weeklong event at Copper Mountain. Eighty women alone entered in slopestyle. In that first competition, Hillen finished 40th. Not dead last or the bottom third but 40th out of 80. In the middle. She was up there. She’d come a long way since her intermural days at CU, but even though she was Mexico’s sole competitor, she needed a top thirty World Cup ranking to qualify for an Olympic berth. So she kept working. She hung out with fellow Olympic hopefuls from Australia, Chile, and Brazil. Even though snowboarding is a solo sport, athletes know the difficulty and danger behind it. Along with the hours spent in the sheer awe-inspiring majesty of the mountains, this creates a strong camaraderie. The group became Hillen’s support system in her quest to make the Olympics.

Nine months before Sochi, Sandra made a whirlwind tour of World Cup competitions in New Zealand, Europe and Canada that would establish her final ranking and eligibility to compete in the Olympics. Each contest lasts a week, split between practice runs, two days set aside for bad weather, and the actual competition. Hillen explained that the weather day is critical. “If the wind is too intense, you can’t get the speed to hit the jump. When you’re hitting 70 foot jumps you need to make sure your speed is dialed in. If you come up short, you’ll get hurt. If you go too big, you’ll get hurt. It’s both an art and a science. You need a couple of days to scout, to navigate in your mind what speed you’ll need, to get the lay of the jump, to talk things over with your coach. After a couple of days you can start to try the runs, and only after that can you gauge what you’ll need to stick it on the day of the competition. It helps you mentally as much as anything. It’s a head game to be up there. You know you can do it, but there’s a lot of pressure. There’s a lot of elements that depend on the weather and what order you get and how long it takes for the girls before you to finish.”

The final competition was held in Canada, on Stoneham Mountain. Hillen was doing well but not well enough yet to make the Olympic cutoff, and the last stop was critical in her quest to make the team. That’s how she found herself stuck on the mountain, waiting for a line of eighty women to make their runs. “It’s pretty tough to stand at the top of a frozen mountain and wait,” she said. “Training days for snowboarders consist of a lot of action, going up and down the mountain, running the hills, doing tricks, warming up and cooling down. Waiting is not part of our normal routine.”

Hillen did well on her runs but in the end finished 45th in the World Cup standings. She was the top snowboarder in Mexico, but narrowly missed the top thirty required for eligibility, so she didn’t make the Sochi Olympics (normal winter events take the top fifty, but since this was the first Olympics for slope-style, only thirty were allowed to compete). It was a disappointment, but she took solace knowing that her friends were on the global stage, and now the whole world knew how great they were. Back home in Kansas City, her family was excited about her accomplishments and proud that she represented Mexico. Hillen said, “At first they didn’t understand the potential I had, but once they saw what I was doing, they said, ‘Holy cow, you’re really good.’”

A film crew from Mexico City came out to shoot a promo for Sochi about Mexico and Latin American countries. The video ran as pre-roll for movies all across Mexico, and her family back in Guadalajara got to see her on the big screen. Since her run at the Olympics two years ago, she still competes for the Mexican national team and, at age 31, is gearing up for another shot when the Winter Games return in PyeongChang, South Korea, in 2018.

Hillen made it back for a playoff game in October in the run up to the Royals 2015 World Series championship. If everything lines up, Sandra Hillen might join some of the Royals as another KC-area athlete competing on the world stage.

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IndieFit Gift Guide http://indiefitmagazine.com/2015/12/01/indiefit-gift-guide/ http://indiefitmagazine.com/2015/12/01/indiefit-gift-guide/#comments Tue, 01 Dec 2015 03:20:43 +0000 http://indiefitmagazine.com/?p=3425 Gift Ideas Compiled by Submission from IndieFit Staff.

INDIEFIT BELIEVES THAT SHOPPING FOR FRIENDS, THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE, OR THE GUY AT WORK WHOSE NAME YOU PULLED OUT OF A HAT SHOULD BE FUN. Here’s a list of gift ideas — local products, stores, and services — that our shopping buffs at IndieFit central put together. Whether you’re a bargain shopper, a researcher, an impulse buyer, a negotiator, a loyalist, a woman with a wish list or a man on a mission, we hope this guide will get your creative juices flowing. It seems like everywhere you look you see the term “buy local” these days. Because IndieFit Magazine is 100% locally owned, it’s more than just a catch phrase to us. Shopping at local, independently owned businesses helps the whole community, whether you buy online from these local sites or at stores across the metro that carry independent local products.

Whether you pick something from our staff’s eclectic list or stay up late at night with your elves in the attic fashioning your own crafts by hand, everybody at IndieFit Central wishes you a warm and happy Holiday Season!





Reading their mission statement, “Groom Regularly, Wander Naturally, and Empower Women” had me all in a lather thinking what a great gift shaving soap would make for my husband. Or maybe it was the earthy tailings of their product line, the masculine hair pomades made from raw beeswax, the beard oils in scents like trailhead and hemlock spruce, the mustache wax and shaving products that could make any guy feel like he’s the most desirable man in the room. Imperial Drifter donates a dollar from each sale to an organization that creates entrepreneurial opportunities for women in the third world. Put their Conifer Beard Oil under the fir tree this holiday and keep an eye on the mistletoe.





Laura Wittmer and Mike Prentice started Wild Wash Soap company in 2014 because the ingredients in most commercially available soaps weren’t what they wanted on their skin. Their products contain absolutely no bad stuff: no synthetic chemicals, artificial scents or palm oil. Their rosemary and peppermint shampoo bar creates a rich, exhilarating lather that everyone can enjoy.






Scent alchemist and founder, Jill McKeever, is fascinated with the ability of scent to transport you emotionally to a different time and place. Her line of perfumes and botanical essences (Decadence and Debauchery, Rosehip Elixir, Southern Moongarden, London Fog Amulet, Tuberose, and many others) might take you – or the person you are buying a gift for — to a landscape somewhere deep in your subconscious. Or at least to a place in the present where you can’t ever remember smelling so fantastic. Strange Women perfumes are all created and produced in the KC Crossroads District and have been featured in Oprah Magazine, NYLON, and BUST Magazine, to name a few. They also carry a line of perfumed pendants and amulets.






KU students have been flocking to Waxman candles to buy cannabis room defoggers for decades. Nothing purifies the air better than a tall patchouli column candle. But the best thing about Waxman is their affordable variety of moodmelding votives that can be purchased in bulk. Stocking stuffers and secret Santa’s take note.






You work out hard to hone your hiney. Show it off in a pair of fancy panties from Birdie’s in the Crossroads District. The panty of the month club offers 12 different panties wrapped with a special note. If you’re buying for your honey, just make sure you get the right size! Feeling less than intimate? They also have a sock of the month club.





Once upon a time, a high school student at Shawnee Mission East made a wooden bowtie and started wearing it to school dances. Now he has an online company with an awesome motto: “Lumber never looked so good.” Against the Grain bowties come in a variety of hard and soft woods and sport locally-inspired designs such as the Plaza skyline and a line of hipster cuts like the Meadowlark, Jungle Fire, Royal Wood Crown, Blossom, and Padauk. Why would you want a wooden bowtie? They don’t wrinkle and never need to be dry-cleaned.





Loyalty KC believes that Kansas City area is a land of flat prairie vistas, tumbling tumbleweeds, and a constant IV-drip of BBQ-sauce jabbed straight into pickline of the Metro. Need proof ? Check out their sports-inspired line of KC Loyalty Tees such as the “Wizard of Hoz”, “No. 5. Pinetar”, and line of Loyalty KC, Mizzouri, and Kansas City Champions to name a few. We can never have too many spirit T’s in a town with so many champions!






Donna’s Dress Shop on 39th Street in KCMO features both vintage and new designers inspired by retro fashions. An eclectic selection of seasonal clothes and accessories, shoes and hats, scarves, glasses, jewelry, girdles. Donna’s got you covered. Buy a dress from Donna for NYE and you won’t run into anyone else with the same outfit! We guarantee it.





Put your dog on the cutting edge of popular culture. Slik Hound sells dogs collars with themes that would double as great lunch boxes. Wonder woman, Batgirl, Superwoman, Camo, London Plaid, American Byways, Aaarrrgghh Pirates. My grand dog, Maverick, will be getting this f or Festivus.





Local running guru Eladio Valdez has helped thousands of local runners go faster, farther, and most importantly, run more injury free for over 18 years now. Valdez offers the perfect gift for the runner in your life, whether they are just getting back into running, trying to take their game to the next level, or gunning for a new milestone like a marathon or an ultra. Classes take place in a group setting. You’ll work on form and learn how to correct common biomechanical mistakes. Each week participants meet up to run iconic courses throughout the metro. No detail is left to chance: at each session the Runner’s Edge provides everything you need to run including drinks, mid-run fueling, and all the motivation you’ll need to succeed. Pick your goal: a race, a training distance, a pace, and Valdez will chart your course to success. In addition participants get a 25% discount at Gary Gribble Running.





Lansing’s Pioneers Press is Kansas City’s one-of-a-kind Indie press that started when former Microcosm Publishing founder Jessie Duke went “back to the land” and moved her underground press operations — and a half dozen goats — from the West Coast to Lansing, Kansas. Part homesteader and “punk farm” and part Zine publishing empire, Pioneers Press titles and authors are featured regularly in publications like Fast Company, Utne Reader, Maximum Rocknroll, and Bitch Magazine. Check out titles like “Spell Skulls and Their Uses,” “Sacred and Mysterious: Herbal Wisdom and Healing Lore for Those Who Menstruate,” and “Read Once & Destroy.”






With product lines like Da’Bomb, Pain is Good and G.Love’s Special Hot Sauce, Original Juan has plenty of testosterone-inflaming goodness to choose from. Fiesta Very Berry Chipotle Marinade and Dipping Sauce is a good choice for anyone at your holiday party. The sauces are available throughout the metro, and they have a specialty shop where you can buy direct on Southwest Blvd.





What’s a “shrub”? Let me enlighten you. A shrub from the KC Canning Company is a hand-crafted, scientifically and artfully blended mixer for the mixologist (or lush) on your list. The Meyer Lemon Lavender Shrub is a great complement to gin and vodka for the holiday season. The Watermelon Habanero Shrub will transform Tom Collins into Tomas Collinsica! Find other delicious (and niftily packaged) jams, jellies, and pickles at retailers such as the Sundry, Westside Storey, Nature’s Own Health Food Market, and other locations across the metro.





The Kansas City Communiversity is a UMKCsponsored collection of informal classes on everything from how to buy a house to West Coast Swing dancing to personal accounting to letting horses help you through life transitions. There’s soap making, bread baking, bike fixing and elixir mixing. Learn a new language, quit smoking or get your aura read. Communiversity has classes for singles, parents, teens, kids and older folks at shops, studios, museums and community centers and schools all across the metro. New classes start in January.






The Tea Market is a great local online resource for an enticing line of loose-leaf and sachet teas you won’t find at the grocery store. The sampler includes organically grown Energizing, Sweet Dreams, Tummy Tamer, Flu Fighter, Detox and Totali-tea. Founder Staci Robinson is a holistic health coach and has researched and focus-tested her blends for the last ten years.





The Kansas City Food Circle connects local farmers with local eaters. An “Eater Membership” isn’t a CSA membership; its farmto- stomach VIP card entitles you to a host of healthy benefits including the KCFC Dining Card (card holders get a 10 percent discount at restaurants in the circle). Member restaurants serve sustainably sourced, often local products.






Simple Science Juices, located in the former Villa Capri restaurant space near downtown Overland Park, features hydraulic coldpressed juices with a minimum of mixing, which results in a more stable product with a slow oxidation rate. Sound like Breaking Bad? You betcha. The juice at Simple Science is better than Walter and Jesse’s blue, and the fact that they don’t treat their juices in any way guarantees the freshest raw experience in the KC metro. Kick off your Christmas morning with a Simple Science Juice in everyone’s stocking.






The name says it all. You Only Better provides effective, natural weight loss and wellness services like endermologie lipo massage, colonic hydrotherapy, non-injectable HCG, Sudatonic infrared body wraps and other services under supervision of Laurie Black, who has over 23 years experience in the business. These treatments really work!







Hobbs is hipster central for gag gifts, super cool clothing, skinny jeans, and unusual finds tailormade to impress anyone in your life who is too school for cool. Soaps, watches, barware, inflatable things, T-shirts with deep vees, Elvis Presley ties, Beatles T towels. Across the street from the Eldridge Hotel in downtown Lawrence.





Custom-made print towels by Green Bee KC are cute and cool at the same time. The buck antler handmade sack flour towel sports the majestic head of a deer in black and white print and works in both masculine and feminine kitchens whether it’s deer season or not. Buck antler’s not your thing? Try a chicken towel, a seahorse towel, or a butcher cow towel.





BikeWalkKC’s mission is to provide a unified voice for active living and to promote a healthy, safe, and accessible outdoor experience for all in a vibrant, engaged community. With student, individual, household, supporter, and elite memberships available, this gift pays dividends not only to the lucky recipient but to everyone Bike Walk KC helps in their outreach mission across the metro, especially the students in their BLAST bike safety program, their Safe Routes to School program and all the changes in how we bike and walk throughout the KC region.





What’s not to like about those Kansas City B-cycle bikes? With stations located all across the city core, you can hop on a B-cycle and ride to a host of convenient destinations. It’s a great way to see the city from the vantage point of a bike – without owning (or hauling) your own wheels. Plus, with expansion plans to more places in the metro in the next two years, supporting them will make it easier for you to cross state lines on your own two wheels.


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Scoby Do’s & Dont’s http://indiefitmagazine.com/2015/12/01/scoby-dos-donts/ http://indiefitmagazine.com/2015/12/01/scoby-dos-donts/#comments Tue, 01 Dec 2015 03:12:43 +0000 http://indiefitmagazine.com/?p=3422 And who put the KAN in KANbucha?!

by Liz Weslandar

WHEN IT COMES TO KOMBUCHA, IT SEEMS THAT PEOPLE EITHER LOVE IT, HATE IT, OR DON’T UNDERSTAND IT. However, if you’ve purchased a beverage from a cooler at a grocery or convenience store lately, it’s clear that the kombucha lovers are winning out over the skeptics. Elliot Pees, founder of the Kansas City area kombucha company, KANbucha, was an early adopter of the kombucha movement in the Midwest and has found his vocation in creating and selling this old-world craft beverage with benefits. Kombucha is a fermented, probiotic-rich tea drink that originated hundreds of years ago in China, but it has only been sold commercially in the U.S. for about a decade and has only really caught on in the past few years. According to market research firm SPINS, kombucha sales saw 29 percent combined growth across all channels from February 2013 to February 2014. For this period, total scanned sales were $122.7 million. A 16-ounce bottle typically costs between $3 and $4.

Pees got into the kombucha game ahead of the curve. After trying a bottle of the sour beverage that his sister brought him from Austin, Texas in 2009, Elliot decided to try brewing his own kombucha. In 2010, he started selling his kombucha on-tap from a kegerator at the Lawrence Farmers Market. From there, Elliot started selling bottled KANbucha at health food stores, coffee shops and gyms around Kansas City and in Lawrence, where he’s based. Business has gone so well for Elliot that he recently partnered with Ben Farmer, owner of Lawrence’s Alchemy Coffee & Bake House, to lease a 25,000 square foot production space.

D e s p i t e k o m b u c h a ’ s popularity, plenty of folks out there are still mystified by the fermented c o n c o c t i o n . Perhaps part of kombucha’s mystique is that the key ingredient is a suspicious sounding substance called SCOBY, or “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.” A SCOBY, which looks like a disc of mucus, is sometimes called a “mother,” because it reproduces an additional SCOBY layer with each new batch of kombucha. In other words, it takes a SCOBY to make a SCOBY. Kombucha is its own self-perpetuating process.

“The SCOBY isn’t the foreground mascot for most kombucha companies because it isn’t appetizing in appearance,” said Elliot. “In fact, some literature jokes that you should let your friends drink your kombucha, but don’t let them see it while its brewing right away.”

Once one has acquired a SCOBY, brewing kombucha is a simple process whereby a SCOBY culture is added to a batch of sweetened tea. The SCOBY eats the sugar and ferments the tea. The result is a sour, slightly fizzy beverage. As you can imagine, producing large amounts of kombucha requires a large amount of SCOBYs, and it would not be inaccurate to call Elliot a SCOBY farmer. Elliot said that while some kombucha companies add a “food energy” element to their SCOBY care by doing things like meditating and playing musical instruments while in the presence of the cultures, he keeps the care of his SCOBYs pretty straightforward.

“They really don’t need much tending if the brewing is regular and the environment is appropriate,” said Elliot. “This means they are getting nutrients from the tea and sugar, the temperature is between 70-80 degrees, and the surrounding air is free of contaminates. They like to be left to do their thing.”

KANbucha’s new production facility has streamlined their brewing process and enabled the company to increase production to 80 gallon batches per week. KANbucha brews in smaller glass vessels, each with its own SCOBY. While this is the most volume Elliot has produced to date, he said it’s not even a quarter of what he intends to be produced in the future.

While the improvements in volume and efficiency are great, Elliot said the coolest part of the new production facility is the “work-play” atmosphere, which he believes has a direct effect on the quality of the product. “Our hand-built surrounding is established to inspire us to get things done with enjoyment,” said Elliot. “We like our space and what we get to create for others on a daily basis. This ultimately means a better quality product for everyone.”

Because kombucha can be an acquired taste for people whose palates are not accustomed to tangy or sour foods, the ongoing challenge and art form for kombucha brewers is creating flavors that are not only palatable but that people will actually seek out.

“I see a lot of reactions to kombucha,” said Elliot. “Some people taste it and love it right off the bat. I tell people that if you try it and don’t like it one day, come another day and try it again. It may be that you just haven’t found the right flavor.”

KANbucha comes in seven flavors, the most popular being Ginger Rose – a combination of kombucha, ginger rosewater and some grape juice for color and sweetness. Jasmine Aid – which is made by adding jasmine tea and lemonade to the kombucha – is another popular flavor, said Elliot. KANbucha’s newest flavor, Roonilla, is reminiscent of cream soda.

“The name comes from the ingredients of Rooibos tea and vanilla, and the flavor’s profile is similar to some traditional sodas in that it’s creamy, woody, herbal and malty,” said Elliot. KANbucha’s dry tea ingredients come from Hugo Tea Company, a premium tea purveyor based in Kansas City.

It might seem counterintuitive that an unfamiliar beverage with a difficult taste profile would be in such high demand, but Elliot said there are a number of reasons people are embracing kombucha. One is that kombucha is what the food industry calls a “functional beverage” – meaning that it is a drink that may also have significant health benefits.

There is research showing that the consumption of fermented foods, including kombucha, introduces beneficial bacteria – often referred to as probiotics — into the digestive system. With the proper balance of gut bacteria, the digestive system can absorb nutrients more easily. Probiotics have also been shown to help slow or reverse some diseases, improve bowel health, aid digestion, and improve immunity.

“Kombucha is an example of ‘food as medicine,’” said Elliot. “While I typically refrain from talking too much about health claims due to liability reasons, if you do your research, you’ll find that fermented foods have the potential to treat a number of chronic problems. Customers of mine describe lots of different benefits they receive from drinking kombucha.”

Aside from the health benefits, Elliot said the kombucha craze is part of a larger renewed interest in old-world foods that foster a sense of community and tradition.

“Like many foods that have a long history, the production of kombucha has a passing-down element, meaning you cannot make it without sourcing a pre-existing culture from someone who has nurtured it, historically a family member or neighbor,” said Elliot. “This is important because it directly reminds us that food was communal because culture and living was more communal.”

Elliot said that yogurt cultures, sourdough cultures, miso cultures, and vinegar cultures are other examples of old world foods for which families had, or may now have, ongoing cultures their ancestors kept alive and passed down.

The old world niche is also part of the even larger “craft” food and beverage trend, which emphasizes variety, uniqueness and quality, all things KANbucha strives for.

“Craft foods are often locally made using ideas both of old world genres and new synthesized inventions,” said Elliot “This is what people are enjoying right now in coffee, bakery goods, beer, wine and also kombucha. In light of this, KANbucha represents kombucha in the regional craft beverage world.”

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Tanya K’s Journey to Running Stardom in KC http://indiefitmagazine.com/2015/11/01/tanya-ks-journey-to-running-stardom-in-kc/ http://indiefitmagazine.com/2015/11/01/tanya-ks-journey-to-running-stardom-in-kc/#comments Sun, 01 Nov 2015 01:26:20 +0000 http://indiefitmagazine.com/?p=3383 Belarus native takes adaptive athletics to the mainstream.

By Japhi Westerfield

ABOUT A YEAR AGO, TANYA KHVITSKO – WHO IS QUICKLY BECOMING ONE OF KANSAS CITY’S BEST KNOWN RUNNERS – went for a short three-mile jog south of KU Med Center on a familiar course. Somewhere near State Line and 42nd Street she fell hard. Tanya was trying out some new gear and had an equipment malfunction. When she woke up in the arms of a “cute police officer,” all she could think to do was profusely apologize for being sweaty. That’s how running in Kansas City seems to go for the 25 year old Lenexa grad student. Even injuries that result in a concussion come with an upside.

It wasn’t always that way. Tatsiana Khvitsko was born in Belarus, four and a half years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. After the explosion at the Soviet nuclear energy facility (which today is in modern Ukraine), the radiation cloud drifted north and Belarus took much of the resulting radiation. The health fallout from the unprecedented incident was profound. The blast caused 31 immediate deaths, mostly among plant workers and the fireman who fought the resultant blaze. The United Nations reported that nearly 5000 additional emergency workers died from longer term exposure over the next 15 years. Blast zones around the facility, where human activity is restricted and wildlife has moved in, include the Polesie State Radioecological Reserve that extends into Belarus. This and other no man’s lands stand in mute testimony to how the event froze time for many Soviet-era citizens.

But one of the guttural consequences of the disaster was the effect on children born in the fallout zones. The most common problems of these “Chernobyl babies” were thyroid issues, including thyroid cancer. But thyroid disease wasn’t the only malady attributed to the radiation. Khvitsko, who doctors both in Belarus and the US say is one of these Chernobyl babies, was born with missing limbs and deformed fingers on both hands. Before her first birthday she was already a congenital, “below the knee/above the knee” double-amputee. Her parents sent her to live in a boarding school for children with disabilities 300 km north of one of the most poisonous places on earth. She made her first baby steps when she was four years old using heavy wooden prostheses. Most of the time she got around on crutches.

Life improved when she turned five. While she was still living in the boarding school, a group of Kansas City area doctors, on a trip to Belarus with what was then called Project Restoration, learned of Khvitsko and came to examine her at the school. Eventually she was invited to travel to Kansas City for the summer to receive medical treatment and physical therapy. There she was fitted with better prostheses. The therapy helped, but she needed regular treatment, so the doctors arranged for her to start coming t o Kansas C ity every summer. She stayed with an American family who treated her like their own daughter. She started going by the name Tanya when she was stateside.

Khvitsko told me that from the very beginning people in the US treated her differently than back home in Belarus where she could never wear shorts or dresses in public because, as she said, her n e i g h b o r s there felt sorry for her. She never wanted anyone to feel sorry for her. Kansas City provided an opportunity for a life less defined by her disability. In 2008 her “American family,” as she now called them, helped her come to the Kansas City to enroll at Mid-American Nazarene College in Olathe. She’s been here ever since.


One day when she was at church, Khvitsko met another woman with prostheses. After studying Tanya’s equipment, the woman said she needed better quality walking legs. During her senior year of college she did some research and found a clinic in Florida that could help her get a new more advanced set of prostheses. She had hoped the new legs would provide better mobility – and a shot at running – but, even though they were far more comfortable than her older units, they still wouldn’t allow her to do anything more than walk. She spent several days at the clinic undergoing therapy and adjusting to her new legs. Then on the last day of her visit the doctors surprised her. Somebody had anonymously donated a blade for Tanya, and along with another prosthesis for the leg that was amputated below the knee, she now had a set of “running legs” as she calls them.

Tanya was elated. Remember, she had had never run before, not once. She told me, “I always tell people now, appreciate your legs. I never had a chance to run. I never had the legs to run. I didn’t even know what it felt like.”

The experience was electrifying.

“When I got a chance to run for the first time, that’s when my confidence went up as an individual and as a female. With my walking legs, I can wear jeans. I can wear long dresses. Nobody knows I have a prosthesis. But when I wear a blade, I can’t hide my legs. If I wore jeans it would look goofy, you know? So that’s when I realized, I am so much more powerful, so much stronger. I am beautiful in my own way because of those legs.”

But the running itself was what surprised her the most at first. For awhile it was the only thing she wanted to do. “When I first put on those running legs, I was running so fast, I felt like I was flying. This was the first time I’d ever run, and it felt like what I’d imagine flying must feel like. I always tell people, in some ways I am flying, because I have no feet. I have no legs at all, so with my blade, I’m really flying.”

That’s when her journey changed. Instead of being a disabled Chernobyl baby, Tanya had become an adaptive athlete. In 2012, a few months after she got her running legs, Tanya ran her first 5k. A year later she ran her first half marathon. Since then she’s been a non-stop runner, entering races almost every weekend. She was able to run right away, but it took her a couple of months to get thehang of her new running legs. In particular, compared to walking on prostheses, she had to strengthen her core. Many runners have issues with their knees, but for Tanya, it’s her core and lower back that take most of the pressure. With the blade, she had to learn how to balance, how to move her hips in order to will the blades to follow her direction. “When non-adaptive runners run, they don’t have to think about where their feet go. But for me, since I can’t feel where I step, I had to figure out how can I step on a big rock and not fall down.“

It was like a non-adaptive athlete trying to run on stilts. The blade doesn’t have any sensory feedback. Tanya had to teach herself an intermediate for feeling. It was all about controlling her upper body. “When I run, I use so much of my upper body and my lower back. I have to do a lot of ab work to make sure my core is strong.”

Tanya does group strength and conditioning classes at Real Fitness and Conditioning by the KU Med Center. Her current goal is not just to get faster but to run longer distances without stopping. The main challenge is her back. To run a 10k non-stop is the first step. She still has to walk during any distance longer than 6 miles, but she hopes through her conditioning work to overcome this. Like all runners, she’s had her injuries and setbacks. About a year ago she got a new running knee for her leg without the blade. That’s how she came to find herself in the arms of the policeman. On her first run, she was unaware that her prosthesis hadn’t been tightened properly. Something popped and she ended up on the ground with a mild concussion.

Tanya’s accomplishments include two Rock the Parkway half marathons and too many 5ks and 10ks to count. The half marathons were difficult. She has to keep her back in the same position for more than 13 miles. The first 10 miles were OK but the last three seemed impossible because she was in so much physical pain. For days after the race, her lower legs were so swollenand blistered, she couldn’t put on her prostheses. Moisture is the enemy of prosthetics users. Non-adaptive athletes can wear socks that absorb moisture and prevent blisters and rashes. For Tanya, if she’s sweating, the sweat just stays there until she takes off her prostheses.

In 2012 Tanya graduated with a degree in Corporate Communications. Now she’s enrolled at William Jewell working on a master’s degree. She admits, beyond helping others, she has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She’d like to work with amputees or, barring that, with anybody she can help, especially young girls struggling with self-esteem. She’s already doing it; she regularly gives talks to small groups in the area about her own struggle and how her experiences can help them.

Tanya has developed a special bond with her adoptive home. “I truly love my country. I love Belarus and I miss my family. But I love my adoptive country too, especially Kansas City. But look at me. I’ve been here seven years. Look how successful I’ve become, not just as an athlete but as an individual. I’m confident. I’m not afraid to open up and talk to people about my prostheses. I don’t think people feel sorry for me here, but back home in Belarus, I know they would, and it would close doors for me. I’d have to force myself to talk to people. People treat me there like I’m a special person, and I don’t need that. I’m getting my master’s degree now. And that’s what I try to tell adaptive athletes I meet. Don’t feel sorry for yourself, even if others do. We’re all adaptive. Whether you’re wearing glasses or I’m wearing prostheses, we’re all adapting to this world in some way. If you’re feeling sorry for yourself, you’re just bringing yourself down. There are times when I get upset, when I want to have legs. Look, I’m a girl. I’d love to wear heels. I’d love to wear a short dress where my legs would look fantastic. But because I wear prostheses, I get to meet so many people, and hopefully I help people. Chernobyl may have taken my legs from me, but it gave me so much more instead.”

She might not know what she wants to do with her life after graduate school, but she’s certain what her main running goal is: 26.2. She would love to break the female double-amputee record for the marathon. “Will I do it? I don’t know, but I’m going to go for it. I’m going to try my best,” she told me.

What’s certain is that she’ll have many area supporters as she works towards her goals. “When I run races, everybody just comes up to me. ‘Hey Tanya!’ I know so many people here now. Kansas City is my new home, I feel like I’ve grown up here, at least the most important part of my growing up, even if it came a little later than for most people. I love this place.”

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Mother Earth News http://indiefitmagazine.com/2015/11/01/mother-earth-news/ http://indiefitmagazine.com/2015/11/01/mother-earth-news/#comments Sun, 01 Nov 2015 01:02:25 +0000 http://indiefitmagazine.com/?p=3372 CLASSIC SUSTAINABILITY MAGAZINE MOTHER EARTH NEWS KEEPS PLUGGING AWAY IN THE 21ST CENTURY.

But did you know they operate out of Topeka?

By Megan Helm

THERE AREN’T MANY PLACES IN KANSAS OR MISSOURI OR even the United States for that matter where conservatives and liberals agree besides the pages of Mother Earth News, an iconic magazine that started off as a voice for the “goin’ up the country” post-hippie crowd back in 1970. Many people, and not just locally, are surprised to find that today it’s headquartered in Topeka, Kansas. Through the nineties and early years of the new century, old Mother Earth issues were a perennial at garage sales, next to old paperback favorites like the Population Bomb, Your Erogenous Zones, and CDs by the grunge band Seven Mary Three (their one CD that is). So when I first heard Mother Earth now operated close to the Brownback governor’s mansion, I decided to find out more about their choice of locale and how Mother Earth, which still sports its core themes of building an earthy, sustainable life (by hand when possible), has changed to serve a new generation of readers.

First the back story. John and Jane Shuttleworth created the magazine from their kitchen table starting in 1970. They described it as “edited by, and expressly for, today’s influential ‘hip’ young adults. The creative people… Heavy emphasis is placed on alternative lifestyles, ecology, working with nature and doing more with less.” Even though the magazine has been bought and sold more than once over the last 45 years, it has managed to stay true to its mission in addition to becoming more and more politically inclusive. Early themes focusing on how to live off the land, reduce the need to consume mass produced food and other products, and maintain the home crafting and animal husbandry skills formerly handed down through the generations have remained and, notably, seem to cross political ideologies.

The year before the magazine launched could be considered the apex of the hippie movement. 1969 was the year of Woodstock, the Stonewall riots, and the Manson family murders. The desire to drop out and get back to nature was partially a way to elude law enforcement and government interference and partially a way to thwart what the hippies felt was an evil corporate lifestyle takeover. Utopian vibrations percolated. Making an independent living off the land was a major theme in the seventies and has come back around today in aspects of the Food to Table, CSA, urban farming, and sustainable housing movements.

The early issues of the magazine (which I actually found at a library on microfilm – remember microfilm?) channeled the creativity of the Shuttleworth’s and the motley crew of young contributors they assembled to write about themes of the time: the struggles to make it when unemployment was going through the roof and an OPEC oil embargo was taking down an economy that wouldn’t fully bounce back until the 1980s. Titles like “Building a House of Straw,” “Curing Pork,” and the “The Herdsman’s Handbook” call to mind a certain fairy tale quality juxtaposed to the vexing issues in the mainstream news. “Corn Cob Pipes” and “How to build an Ice House” are reminiscent of a certain snowman, and “Witch for Water” and “Harnessing the Wind” conjure an Ozarkian magical realism. While browsing the early archive I half expected to find articles like “How to make a trail of breadcrumbs” and “How to build a house of candy.”

Other alluring articles promised a way to strike it rich. “Be an antique picker,” “How to retire six months every year” — as well as stories about how to sell your original music and art — all fueled the dream of working for oneself and leaving “the man” behind. Cottage industries are still a huge draw for audiences. Learning how to keep goats and make cheese or beer or pickles or pasta sauce are in nearly every issue.

Founder John Shuttleworth was a bit of an “eco-prophet.” In a March 1975 article he lamented, “You’ve got to be collectively crazy when you belong to a species that can casually assemble enough nuclear weapons to totally destroy all the life on earth a hundred times over. Or breed and stockpile more than enough special strains of anthrax and God knows what other super-diseases to do the same thing. Or completely—and, again, casually—exterminate other whole species for the manufacture of lipsticks and rectal suppositories. Or ransom the lives of the next 20,000 generations with atomic waste just so this generation can continue doubling its consumption of electricity every 10 years… Civilization, it seems, is just another word for ‘lunatic asylum.’”

The Shuttleworth’s started the magazine in Ohio but turned it over to Bruce Woods, a long time editor. He and two other employees bought the magazine in 1979 and moved production to the 600 acre research center or “EcoVillage” in North Carolina where thousands of people came each summer to take classes in the experimental gardens and studios. Paid print subscriptions passed a million, a radio show had hit the airwaves, and according to an article by former contributor Sara Bacher in the March/April 1990 issue, “we began to exert real influence on environmental legislation.” Mother Earth News was now a bona fide player on the fringes of mass media. Bacher was hired for her travel expertise to develop one of the first ever incarnations of Ecotourism, via a Mother Earth trip that took readers to the Alps, Nepal, China, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Scandinavia and Kathmandu, to name a few locales, to see sustainability and ecological issues first hand. Then the Reagan years hit. Ronald Reagan wasn’t big on environmental policy. His Secretary of the Interior James Watt once said, “My responsibility is to follow the Scriptures, which call upon us to occupy the land until Jesus returns.” These years took a toll on the magazine. Subscriptions plummeted, the staff was whittled, and the EcoVillage closed. In 1985 the magazine was sold to New York publisher Owen Lipstein. 16 years later, the magazine was again sold, this time to Bryan Welch of Ogden publishing.

Thus, at the turn of the millennium in 2001, the staff and offices of Mother Earth News were relocated to Topeka, where it remains in operation to this day, though Mr. Welch passed the reigns to Bill Uhler last April in order to lead B The Change Media, a new multiplatform media company. In an article written by former publisher Bryan Welch for his blog Beautiful and Abundant in January of 2014, the unifying principle of self-reliance is the key to Mother Earth’s success. After Mediamark Research & Intelligence, an audience analysis company specializing in the advertising industry, evaluated the demographics of Mother Earth over the last 10 years, surprising new data emerged.

Mother Earth News had quadrupled the size of their audience. At a time when print media was suffering a slow death, when newspapers all over the country were firing reporters and limiting coverage, when everybody and their brother had a blog or a YouTube channel showing people how to do things no one ever thought they wanted to do, Mother Earth almost doubled newsstand sales.

In addition they improved their layout, designed an interactive website, added videos, blogs and extended their outreach with annual “fairs” at select towns around the country as well as gaining a prominent social media position. Their readership continues to feel included and important. In fact, according to the article, readers tell the editors what to cover. “We send 10 to 50 email surveys to various groups of readers every week.” They established an advisory group that anyone can request to join on the website.

The Mother Earth Fairs are where the readers really interface. Events and workshops, vendors and activists field questions and provide solutions. I attended the fair in Lawrence two years ago where Temple Grandin was a keynote speaker, Hilary Brown was launching a new veggie burger and my son and I learned about tea and how to raise goats and make cheese. Current Editor-in-Chief Cheryl Long admitted there are sometimes interesting political questions at the Q&A’s after various sessions but says “the focus is on how to do things. People come with their notebook in hand ready to learn.” This year’s Midwestern fair was held in October in Topeka.

But perhaps the most surprising statistic to come out of the Mediamark research was that only 10 percent of the audience responding to the survey considered themselves “very Liberal” and 21 percent identify as “very Conservative. “ Bryan Welch puts it this way, “… political differences apparently don’t extend to your feelings for gardens, tomatoes, farmhouses, pure food, a healthy human habitat or great grandchildren.” Which is inspiring. The words “global warming” are rarely used and the magazine makes a concerted effort to avoid partisan buzzwords. They work hard to not alienate readers. It is understood that people on both sides of the political spectrum agree that our planet is beautiful and should be protected for future generations.

According to Bryan Welch’s blog, “We used to refer to our readers as ‘environmentalists.’ Now we know many of you don’t see yourselves that way. You prefer to be characterized as ‘conscientious.’ Or maybe you just prefer not to be characterized at all–which is fine with us.”

He likens the tone of the magazine to a dinner party where the conversation is “interesting, varied and provocative. But we don’t want any of our guests to feel insulted, and we try to make sure that no one is offended, even if they are challenged.” Consensus exists where it overlaps with the American ideal of self-reliance and independence. Conservatives don’t want government interference. Liberals don’t want corporate manipulation. Americans want to be free to live healthy, affordable lives they create for themselves. In that we can agree.

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Pitch it or Fix it? http://indiefitmagazine.com/2015/11/01/pitch-it-or-fix-it/ http://indiefitmagazine.com/2015/11/01/pitch-it-or-fix-it/#comments Sun, 01 Nov 2015 00:35:17 +0000 http://indiefitmagazine.com/?p=3362 KC has options if you want to repair old electronics or appliances.

By Dave Greenbaum


Most Kansas Citians already know they shouldn’t throw electronic items in the trash (for green reasons). Many cities in the metro have recycling events and will even help you haul away larger appliances. Before you put your old iDevices and other implements of destruction out to pasture forever though, consider the following options to squeeze some extra usefulness out of those gadgets that brought such joy when you first cracked them out of their security cases.


Your first decision is whether a repair is worth the effort. For obvious reasons, you usually won’t want to pay more to fix an item than its replacement cost – whether you’re buying used, refurbished, or new. Most appliances and electronic devices have limited life spans. You can check eBay to price-check used gear. View the “completed listings” to see how much items similar to yours commonly sell for. Unless that black and slate iPhone 5 with the cracked screen and fried out headphone jack has a high sentimental value, don’t fix it if you can nab a new iPhone 6 for less.


Even if you aren’t mechanical or technical, that doesn’t mean you can’t fix something yourself. Mike Silverman of Lawrence was frustrated that his window air conditioner wasn’t working. After an outrageous repair quote, he took to Facebook. A few friends suggested a YouTube video showing how easy it was to clean out the innards of the unit, and an hour later, the air conditioner was back up and running. Social media is a great place to start your repair journey. Friends can offer suggestions and even let you borrow tools, and there are numerous web sites that guide even inexperienced do-it-yourselfers with many simple repairs.

Kansas City’s Surplus Exchange and Connecting for Good recycle electronics, but they also have tech repair shops with helpful staff. They’ll assist you in finding the part you need and give you some expert advice. The parts are used or recycled, so they’ll cost much less than buying new. For smaller home electronics and appliances, check out the local Habitat For Humanity. Most cities in both Kansas and Missouri have them.

Bob Akers of Surplus Exchange also suggests going to makerspace communities like Hammerspace Community Workshop in Brookside. There you can meet with more technical people who like fixing things as a hobby. Members love sharing their knowledge. Most communities in our region have a makerspace.


A “social experiment in improvisational fixing” that began in Brooklyn, New York, in 2008 has unexpected progeny in Kansas City’s Astor Place neighborhood near Brookside. Cate Bachwirtz launched a twice yearly “Fix it Day” (and associated “Trash it Day” that follows a week later) after reading an article about the movement in Yes! Magazine a few years ago. According to their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/fixerscollective), the New York-based Fixers Collective is a “social experiment in improvisational fixing and aggressive asset recovery.” They created “Fix it Days” as a way to bring people in the community together. Rather than just tossing out broken items, the premise is that fixing and caring for things helps people feel more connected and empowered. The monthly Brooklyn version is an open house, of sorts, where people come, not only to get stuff fixed (and hopefully learn to fix things themselves), but also to meet their neighbors.

The Astor Neighborhood Fix it Day takes place twice a year, in October and March. Everyone’s welcome, but if you don’t live near Brookside, consider starting a “Fix it Day” in your own neighborhood.


Who wants broken stuff? Lots of folks. People learning how to fix electronics need broken phones and iPads and video cameras to practice repairing. Dave Mead of Olathe put a broken fridge on Kansas City’s Craigslist. The fridge looked great but didn’t work. A real estate agent purchased the fridge to help stage a home. If your laptop has a water spill, you might be able to swap parts with someone who has a cracked screen. Many communities have Buy/ Sell/Trade groups on Facebook. Search for your city and you’ll probably find one nearby. If something is too big to ship, don’t hesitate to put it on eBay and mention that local pickup is needed. You won’t get rich off this, but you might be able to at least buy a nice cup of coffee as well as keeping something out of the landfill.


Many people in the metro swear by “freecycling.” Search for the name of your community and “Freecycle” and you’ll find the local list. Someone will pick up your unwanted electronics and put them to good use. Typically it’s best to first offer items when joining the local Freecycle group, so you won’t seem like you joined just to take. The key rule is you can’t charge anything for the stuff you’re giving away.

Previously mentioned organizations like Surplus Exchange and Connecting for Good focus on electronics. They’ll make sure the computers, monitors and phones are reused in the community whenever possible. Goodwill of Western Missouri and Eastern Kansas have the Dell Reconnect program that accepts most electronics.

Whether you repair, sell, swap or give away your old items, you will be doing your part to keep trash out of the landfill and build community.

Gizmos got you down?

These companies might be able to help.


518 Santa Fe St

Kansas City, MO



NE Wyandotte Co. Community Tech Center

2006 North 3rd Street

Kansas City, KS

www.connectingforgood. org


440 E 63rd Street

Kansas City, MO

www. hammerspacehobby.com

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Hydrocaching anyone? http://indiefitmagazine.com/2015/11/01/hydrocaching-anyone/ http://indiefitmagazine.com/2015/11/01/hydrocaching-anyone/#comments Sun, 01 Nov 2015 00:27:25 +0000 http://indiefitmagazine.com/?p=3354 Friends of the Kaw gamify river quality testing.

By IndieFit Staff

Photos by Craig Thompson

WITH THE HELP OF THE MIDAMERICAN REGIONAL COUNCIL, local river rats at Friends of the Kaw have developed a riparian twist on geocaching just in time for the pleasant and often-overlooked fall float season on the Kansas River. Oh, and you’ll learn something too: Water quality hydrocaching uses the geocache format to help teach practical lessons on water quality in the Kansas Ri ver.

The organization, which boasts a paid “River Keeper” position on its org chart, has stashed five caches at Kansas River boat ramps in metro Kansas City. If you’re able to find a cache you will be asked to do a simple water quality test and enter your data on their website. The first ten people to find all five caches, complete the simple water quality tests, and submit their data to the site will earn a free canoe rental for a group float trip with Friends of the Kaw (equipment included). Fear not,at low water levels the Kansas River is slow moving and totally appropriate for novice paddlers and families. They person their floats with mud-loving streamsters to keep you safe and paddling with the current once you’re on the river.

Visit http://kansasriver.org/learn/hydrocache to find out more.

These photos of the Kansas River appear in Craig Thompson’s book Along the Kaw, available at the Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th Street in Lawrence; Signs of Life Book Store, 722 Massachusetts Street in Lawrence, online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and at http://www.facebook.com/AlongTheKaw.

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Board Basics – Serving on a local board can have myriad benefits http://indiefitmagazine.com/2015/10/01/board-basics-serving-on-a-local-board-can-have-myriad-benefits/ http://indiefitmagazine.com/2015/10/01/board-basics-serving-on-a-local-board-can-have-myriad-benefits/#comments Thu, 01 Oct 2015 20:58:07 +0000 http://indiefitmagazine.com/?p=31 By Dave Greenbaum

AFTER YOU’VE FINISHED YOUR WORKOUT AT THE END OF A BUSY workday, the last thing you’re thinking about is another meeting. For many Kansas Citians though, that extra meeting can be the most important and fulfilling part of their day because they serve on a local board of directors and gladly volunteer their time.

Board service isn’t just a resume builder; members can make a real impact providing oversight and direction. Recent news out of Lawrence shows the importance of board action. When Jeremy Farmer, executive director of local food bank Just Food (who also happened to be the city’s mayor) resigned over alleged financial mismanagement, the actions of board members were an important part of the story.

On the right board, your time can benefit a cause you believe in, which can be as valuable as the paycheck you get from your day job.


I know when I was first approached to join a board after college I thought I was way too young and inexperienced to help lead an organization. I had bills to pay, so volunteering wasn’t in the budget. Taly Friedman felt the same way after she graduated from KU. She’s currently Director of Volunteer Engagement at Jewish Family Services of Greater Kansas City (jfskc. org). Friedman was involved in KU Hillel in college. She realized she could offer her perspective as a fresh college graduate to her fellow board members.

If you’re new to a community, serving on a board is a great way to meet people with common interests, but the people you meet might go beyond city limits. Callahan Creek’s Director of Emerging Media Ben Smith served on the board of a nationwide group, the Social Media Club (www.socialmediaclub.org). With over 350 chapters, many overseas, Smith worked with people not just from the United States, but also Europe and the Middle East, and it led to travel opportunities and new friendships in multiple countries.

Religious institutions, universities, professional organizations, cause-based groups, and government entities all operate with boards of directors. Katy Ibsen Carroll is General Manager of Sunflower Publishing, a division of the World Company in Lawrence, Kansas. Carroll chairs the Lawrence Humane Society’s board of directors (lawrencehumane.org). Her love of animals made working with the board a natural fit. James New was already a volunteer trainer at Connecting for Good (www.connectingforgood.com), a KC-based organization that helps bridge the digital divide. He has a background in IT, so he wanted to help the organization on a more strategic level by joining their board. Brendon Allen, a software engineering director at a broadband technology company lost part of his leg due to Osteosarcoma and wears a prosthetic below his knee. He joined the board of the Steps of Faith Foundation (www. stepsoffaithfoundation.org) which works to provide financial support to amputees because he realized “the difference that lack of access to even basic prosthetics could make on the quality of life of amputees.”

As you might imagine, boards come in all shapes, sizes, and commitments. They might meet yearly and have dozens of members. Other boards may meet on a monthly basis. I currently serve on the LGBT board of Miami University of Ohio. We meet monthly over the phone and yearly for a retreat. Like Friedman, I love staying connected to my alma mater. Most boards will give you an idea of how much time and money they expect from you.


When you join a board, you’ll meet people. Carroll loves the connections she made at the Lawrence Humane Society: “I love popping into the shelter and talking to the team members about what shenanigans happened with a funny dog, to see how we are fighting for animals who can’t speak, or to see a family working with one of our adoption counselors–it’s an awesome feeling felt with awesome people.”

Serving on a board also can help you develop new professional skills. Ben Smith helped Social Media Club navigate through an important leadership transition. Friedman mentioned that her board service allows her to “meet people of all ages and backgrounds and helped me expand my professional network. “ Carroll learned how to be a better manager by working alongside her team members. Boards make decisions about human resources, finances and advertising. If you’ve just graduated, or if you’re out of work, board service can help build up your portfolio and gain experience that will help you get a job. To a potential employer it means you didn’t just sit around all summer watching the Royals!

All of the board members I spoke said the most valuable aspect of their service though was the satisfaction of giving back to their communities. Smith said that serving on a board “is a chance to ‘do.’ Joining the right board is a unique opportunity to make an impact and leave a legacy.” I know with my membership on Miami University’s LGBT board, I help make the school a safer place for students of all backgrounds.


I’ve heard this said many ways, but most boards want one or more of the three T’s: treasure, time and talent. Treasure. That means you write a check. If your check is big enough, you get a seat on the board. Even if you’re not a walking endowment association, many boards request a small donation to show support. Friedman was concerned that she couldn’t make the larger contribution that other board members could make, but she was able to contribute in other ways. Many boards though won’t ask any money of you if you aren’t able to afford it.

Time. That means you provide free labor. Some nonprofits get much of their legwork from the sweat equity of their board members. Smith’s membership on the Social Media Club’s board required a time commitment that was critical in helping the group continue to grow.

Talent. That means you have something unique to contribute. Don’t think your skill isn’t valuable. In my case, I fix computers. You might be a graphic artist or a financial wiz. The Lawrence Humane Society needed help with public relations and marketing and asked Carroll to share her talents. New already had a background in IT, so he was able to share those skills with Connecting for Good.


Start by identifying organizations you’d be interested in. Go to a few events to get a feel for the group. You might go to a rally or just walk a few dogs. Once you find one you like, join a committee or a sub-committee first. Get a feel for how the organization runs.

What’s the best way to see how functional a board is? Read the minutes. Most minutes will be publically available or published on the organization’s website.

Once you’re ready, let a few board members know that you’re interested and that you’d like a chance to serve when a new opening pops up. Larger groups may have general elections for board members, but smaller ones usually vote as a board.


The Kansas City area has much to offer in the way of board involvement as the experiences of Carroll, New, and Friedman show. Smith and Allen took their causes to a national and international level. Whatever groups you decide to get involved with, don’t wait until the end of your career to get started. Now’s the time in your life to make a difference and make the world a better place. Instead of going home at night frustrated about your day at work, you’ll go to sleep knowing that your labor changed lives.

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Jake and the Beanstalk – Sacred Sun Cooperative Farm building KC area “dry bean culture” http://indiefitmagazine.com/2015/10/01/jake-and-the-beanstalk-sacred-sun-cooperative-farm-building-kc-area-dry-bean-culture/ http://indiefitmagazine.com/2015/10/01/jake-and-the-beanstalk-sacred-sun-cooperative-farm-building-kc-area-dry-bean-culture/#comments Thu, 01 Oct 2015 20:51:55 +0000 http://indiefitmagazine.com/?p=28 by Japhi Westerfield

IN ALL SERIOUSNESS, I EAT A LOT OF BEANS. ONE CHRISTMAS MY sister bought me a set of bean-themed kitchen storage containers – for a gag– and I’ve used them with a straight face for years. When a guy heard my wife talking about how many times a week I slow-cooked beans he told her he was amazed I hadn’t bought a pressure cooker, so the next week she gave me an Emeril T-fall 6-Quart electric model that is by far my most treasured kitchen gizmo – I even take it on vacations. Beans are an easy source of protein when I’m on a vegetarian kick, high in fiber, they come in handy for Rick Bayless recipes, but more than anything, I just like them. I’m on the bean team.

My wife, though, is not, so one night when she looked down at my frijoles and said, “If I’m ever going to get into those, I think I need to find a really good bean,” I was initially at a loss. As she twirled some idealized bean around in her mind like a free-range rotisserie chicken, I realized that, quite frankly, other than for the coffee variety, the only thing I’d ever shopped for in a dry bean was price; I liked my beans cheap, in bulk or pre-packaged 2 pound bags that I dumped into plastic Stikko wafer-stick jars (now you know my guilty pleasure). Raising an eyebrow when she noticed my complete cluelessness, she suggested, “Maybe something locally grown.”

With one (big) exception I’d never heard of dry bean farming around Kansas City. Green beans were one thing; everybody’s grandmother grew them, the ones that flossed your teeth for you if you didn’t string each pod prior to dumping them into the crockpot with a chunk of bacon and a bag of brown sugar to ease their day-long simmer into evisceration. That big exception of course is soybeans. According to stats that the US Department of Agriculture carefully harvests each year, Kansas hovers around 10th in annual soybean production. But soybeans are grown as an oil crop (the meal is used to feed pigs). I wanted culinary beans I could stoke the Emeril with. I checked with a couple of local health food stores but didn’t have any luck. After I’d forgotten about it, I overheard some people at Bad Seed Farmers Market talking about local beans. They told me to drive up to Lawrence and look for Sacred Sun Cooperative Farm at the Saturday farmers market there. A few weeks later I did, and I would find not only that perfect local bean my wife wanted, but also learn about the fascinating reinvigoration of a family farming tradition that traces its roots to the 1850s on a plot of land near the Kickapoo Indian Reservation and a remarkable new cooperative agricultural experiment 50 miles northwest of Kansas City that blends the latest organic non-GMO urban farming techniques with foodie culture, indie music, and traditional Kansas row cropping.


As a farmer, thirty-something Jake Johannes defies easy categorization. What’s certain is that, for now at least, he’s the only culinary dry bean farmer in northeast Kansas. Even when he lived thousands of miles away, the bean culture of northeast Kansas was never far from his mind. “After I graduated from college and worked for a little while, I left for Japan where I went to teach high school students and study Japanese timber farming. My dad had been farming soybeans almost his entire life near the town of 50 people where I grew up. In Japan I ate soy products on a daily basis, fermented soy, but also a lot of tofu and unfermented soy. I think it gets a bad rap, because of GMO soybeans. But it was really good for my health,” Johannes told me.

Back from Japan, Johannes, who graduated from KU with an architecture degree in the early 2000s, got a job with an architecture firm in Kansas City. But in 2008 everything changed. The economy crashed, he lost his job, and nobody was hiring freshly minted architects. Beans were back on the plate for Johannes, this time literally, as in rice and beans for dinner every night. Johannes had a solid fallback though, a 150 year tradition of farming, something his family had done in Kansas since the days of abolitionists and border ruffians. But he knew to make an impact, it wasn’t enough to just move back to the land. He needed to add to his agricultural pedigree, not in the fields alongside his father or in an ag program at K-State, but right there in the city where he had been laid off.

The business of agriculture has been changing for years. Today Americans plant roughly the same acreage as a half century ago, but farms are bigger (the average family farm was 733 acres in 2015) and a growing percentage are corporate owned. 4H, Future Farmers of America and the Grange (the once radical farm “fraternity” otherwise known as the Order of the Patrons of Husbandry) have long been declining. But go to any health-food store and browse the magazines at the checkout aisles. A new kind of farming with a new kind of farmer has taken root. This new farm is inspired in equal parts by Palo Alto startup culture, “Goin’ Up the Country” indie social collectivism, and foodie cravings for organic non-GMO crops grown within a 50 mile radius of the whoever’s holding the fork. The business model involves eliminating the middle man and going direct to market, which reduces the number of acres you need to plant and creates a potential job market for local cultivators willing to get out in the fields and sweat.

Johannes found the perfect way bolster his farming IQ. “I got an internship with the Growing Growers program through Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture (now called Cultivate Kansas City). Katherine Kelly hired me, and in one year I learned a lot about the vegetable side of the business.”

But Johannes didn’t want to grow vertical gardens in Westport; he had the potential to become organic farming’s “triple threat.” He’d row cropped since childhood and now he knew small-scale urban vegetable farming. Add to that the business side – the ability to direct-market everything to the end user: farmers markets, coops, restaurants, and local food manufacturers – and Johannes was ready to make good on a dream he’d had since high school. He told me that studying engineering and architecture, teaching in Japan, and now wading into the world of urban farming was always about “bringing some set of skills back to that rural community where I grew up, to enliven it, to give back,” as he put it.

So in 2010, he moved back in with his parents and worked with his father to convert their traditional grain and soybean operation to organic. It wasn’t an easy decision and took 5 years to complete. He said, “Going back home, it was like going to graduate school for agriculture. I learned so much from my father in the time I got to work with him. It was the kind of information I couldn’t have picked up at any other farm in the area because he was doing large acreage row crops.”

His father, skeptical at first, is a believer now that they’re on the other side and fully certified. Last season when neighbors in Brown County were farming four times the acreage and getting $3 per bushel for corn, Johannes’ corn was food grade quality, which allowed them to drive to Indiana and sell it for $14 per bushel. They were working smarter, not harder. As Johannes said, “It’s like farming four times as much land, and our inputs are less, we’re not spraying, we’re using mechanical cultivation to take care of weeds. We don’t get the yields our neighbors do, we make up for it in profit since we’re a niche product now.”

But he wasn’t finished with his experiment. His ultimate goal went beyond the revitalization of his family’s Brown County farm – he was interested in what the future of Johannes farming in Kansas could be, how he could build on his heritage and start his own family tradition. So in 2014, with his wife Jessica and their friends Jen and Jim Martin and their children, the two families founded Sacred Sun Cooperative Farm on 40 acres northeast of the small town of Perry, Kansas. Perry was once a bustling railroad town with an ancient elm tree in the town park that locals named the “tree of knowledge.” Johannes brought his own knowledge and community vision to the Perry region, one that looked back to the days when families lived together in close-knit agricultural enclaves. He wanted to revive what his grandparents and greatgrandparents did: grow everything a small family would need to survive winter.

Sacred Sun is a hipster farm. 40 acres and they’re cool. The farm is cooperative in the sense that both families – the Martins and Johannes – share the costs, labor, and profits of the farm. They employ a “whole diet” CSA farm model (CSA stands for community supported agriculture). Members pay a monthly fee to become shareholders, but unlike shares of stock, the farm pays dividends in produce via a weekly supply of whatever crops are in season. Of the Martins Johannes told me, “They moved to the land with us. We farm together, we share the costs together, I feel like we are a true coop. We share the profits. They’re incredible, we couldn’t do any of this without them. Eventually, it’s a goal of ours to hopefully bring more families here and establish a community out in the country, centered around agriculture.”

They also share heroics when nature raises hell in the middle of the night. Jim Martin said that in May it rained at the farm 29 out of 31 days. Their land extends mostly down the south-facing slope of a gentle hill. He said that late in the month, around 2 a.m. he and Johannes had to go out in the middle of a severe thunderstorm to dig a retaining ditch around their fields. More than 10,000 acres of water ran down that hill during the month. That’s some serious bonding male bonding, Kansas style.

Towards the community side the farm hosts potlucks for friends who drive up from Kansas City and Lawrence to help with large projects. When they first moved in, all the outbuildings were crammed with 10 to 15 years of trash. They filled up a roll-off dumpster, hooked up the amplifiers (many of their friends are musicians), and cooked food at the end of the day.

Johannes might have moved his family to a new farm and started working towards his vision of cultivating everything on the table at Thanksgiving dinner – but he still couldn’t stop thinking about beans (remember, this is a story about beans). Because of soybeans, he knew a culinary dry bean culture in Kansas was possible. Some Western Kansas operations planted pinto beans. The Kanza and Osage tribes cultivated dry beans, as did Johannes’ childhood neighbors the Kickapoo, whose generational seed collections were so sacred that only select members of the tribe were allowed to see them. He also knew that local veggie-burger producer Hillary’s Eat-Well was actively looking for local farms to grow adzuki beans for their products.

So the first full year of operations at Sacred Sun included a stab at dry bean farming (the beans were actually grown up in Brown County – next year they plan to grow beans at the Perry location). Johannes decided to start out with black-eyed peas and black beans, but immediately ran into a roadblock. He couldn’t find enough seed. In a state dominated by five crops, planting enough edible beans to harvest wasn’t as simple as driving down to the seed store and placing an order. But unlike many vegetables and fruits, beans themselves are seeds, so Johannes worked out a deal with the Community Mercantile in nearby Lawrence to buy 200 pounds of organic black-eyed peas and black beans for seed stock. He planted them. They came up. A bean’s a bean right? Well maybe, Johannes wasn’t completely sure the equipment he used for soybeans would work for his new culinary cultivars. When it was time to harvest he even switched from his old John Deere 8820 combine to an International 1666 which has a gentler threshing mechanism. The black beans were a success, but the black-eyed peas presented a problem at harvest. “The plants they grow on are viney and the pods are fibrous, so when they went through the combine they didn’t get shredded up and pulverized and ended up coming out as these giant balls of vine. You can’t disc them into the ground. I had to go out with a pitchfork and manually remove them from the fields. I found out that even though we can grow a lot of these beans here, a missing part of the equation is how they are harvested.”

That’s how my wife’s perfect bean was grown. Sacred Sun marketed many of those first year’s beans to local restaurants across northeast Kansas and western Missouri, but a few choice 5-lb bags were saved for the Saturday Lawrence Farmers Market, and I snagged one with my daughter on a sweltering August morning. When I showed my wife she was impressed. “You really did find a local bean.” That night we ate perhaps some of the first completely local Kaw Valley bean burritos ever made – authentic down to the local corn tortillas my daughter pressed out in our tortilla press, some low-heat jalapenos out of the garden, and the Sacred Sun black beans. My wife’s still not on the bean team, but she’s interested in the other products Sacred Sun brings to local markets. I loved the beans, but I also loved the story of Sacred Sun and Johannes, just one of many stories of sustainable agriculture taking root on the rich alluvium of the Kansas and Missouri River valleys and the vacant lots and garden plots of urban Kansas City. Jake Johannes can’t really be called a pioneer – he’s a son of the pioneers after all – but he embodies the spirit of the new Kansas City, a city which was founded in a large part by farmers.


In October you can find Sacred Sun at the Saturday Downtown Farmers Market, 900 block of New Hampshire Street, 8 am – noon and the Thursday Cotton’s Farmers Market, 1832 Massachusetts Street, 4 pm – 6:30 pm, both in Lawrence, Kansas. You can also find them on Facebook: http:// www.facebook.com/sacredsunfarm.


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Not Your Mother’s Mammogram Party http://indiefitmagazine.com/2015/10/01/not-your-mothers-mammogram-party/ http://indiefitmagazine.com/2015/10/01/not-your-mothers-mammogram-party/#comments Thu, 01 Oct 2015 20:36:26 +0000 http://indiefitmagazine.com/?p=19 by Christina Frazier

According to the John Hopkins University, triple-negative breast cancer is a diagnostic categorization for cancers whose cells test negative for estrogen (ER), progesterone (PR), and human epidermal growth factor (HER). While rare, this aggressive form of the disease requires a specific treatment regimen different than for other breast cancers. Although doctors should know to check for these factors, women should ask specifically for screening if there is any doubt. When the bus finally pulled up, Consuelo Ross led her team of volunteers, ushering women through the door, greeting strangers with a warmth and competence other people reserve for their family members. If every mammogram screening was like this, trust me, women would look forward to them.

Ross is CEO of Surviving the Odds, a foundation that helps women of color navigate the complex world of breast cancer. The organization signs up groups to host “Mammogram Parties,” outreach gatherings where up to 32 women can take the party bus to Johnson County Imaging Center for cancer screening. This time the local host was Centennial United Methodist Church, whose First Lady Kimiko Black Gilmore directs Team Inspired’s annual 5K walk/ run, an event held in memory of Darrell Sublett, a church member who died of triplenegative breast cancer.

You don’t have to belong to the host group or even ride the bus to receive services. Denise Dillard gets her mammogram on a regular basis, but decided to show support for her Wyandotte County neighbors by joining the party and getting her test done at Johnson County Imaging Center rather than at her doctor’s office. Dillard is a tall beauty with a platinum close-cropped natural. She doesn’t have a strong family history of cancer, but neither do 80 percent of women who get the disease. A horrific 2012 motorcycle accident left her with metal pins and plates in her lower body and a new perspective on life that emphasized “paying it forward.” Told she would never walk or ride again, she beat the odds. She was along for the ride this Saturday to help show other women that they can too.

The bus concept traces its origins to an alliance between Sharon Butler Payne and Consuelo Ross. Payne is the founder and chairperson of Art Bra KC, which raises funds for local breast cancer nonprofits by auctioning off themed bras created by local artists. In 2014, the Susan G. Komen Foundation contacted Payne directly to alert her to a report on Wyandotte County’s alarmingly high rates of late stage breast cancer. She immediately refocused Art Bra KC on efforts to help out. Ross had already been working in the county for several years with Surviving the Odds. The two organizations joined forces to found the Wyandotte County Task Force.

Juxtaposed against Wyandotte County’s perpetually low health rankings, its wealthy and healthier neighbor Johnson County is a reminder that living on the wrong side of I-35 has ramifications for health and longevity. Beyond issues of poverty, race, income disparity, and high rates of the uninsured, there are simply fewer hospitals and clinics in Wyandotte County and the people most in need, even if they can get off work or arrange child care, often have no dependable way to travel to care sites. Ross and Payne decided to focus their efforts on this proximity to services problem. Ross decided they should “take the women out of the place with the least access to health care and bring them to the place with the greatest access to health care.” Johnson County Imaging Center volunteered to donate their services. Payne proposed that Art Bra KC fund a party bus as the means of transportation, and an annual event was born.

Ross found her calling to create Surviving the Odds after her mother died at 42 from breast cancer. Even with all she learned caring for her mother during her illness, she said she “didn’t get tested for breast cancer for a long time after my mother died.” She can’t say why she didn’t make early detection a priority. One day she found a lump on her breast in the shower. After being diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, Ross suspected her mother may have had it too, because she died so young.

Drawing on her own experience, Ross decided that a social event might be just the kind of thing to help inspire women to overcome their fear and ambivalence about early testing. She believed that being a “queen for a day” could be more than just superficial fun; it could teach at-risk women who faced serious challenges that their lives were important and worth saving.

The majority of women at the party were African-American, but several were white and at least one was Filipina. Every half hour, DJ’s raffled prizes while women in the audience testified about their experience or provided information on services such as the Sarah Cannon Cancer Center Nurse Navigator program at Research Hospital. Volunteers added the women who attended to a list so they could be reminded to get their mammogram again next year.

The staff at Johnson County Imaging Center donates one Saturday a month for these parties. The center uses a stateof- the-art three-dimensional imaging technique for mammograms that starts at the top of the breast and curves along the surface, which some consider a better diagnostic tool. The center can also provide the more traditional two-dimensional scans.

The event reminded me of the love and respect that people can feel for each other; women helping women beat the odds against a common foe; the staff, the participants, the volunteers all making an impact in the community; the dividing lines of Wyandotte and Johnson Counties, of labels, status, and politics set aside to take on breast cancer. It showed me that one Saturday each month, people all over Kansas City are working together to prove that black women’s lives in Wyandotte County matter to us all, one mammogram at a time.

Inspired and want to get involved? To host a mammogram party visit www.stofoundation.org and choose the “YES I AM” tab. For more information on Art Bra KC visit artbrakc.com.


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