Author: Kate Campbell (Page 3 of 23)

Four-Way Test Inspires Career

Thom Allen is a lecturer at KU and a former member of the Kansas City Design Center (KCDC).

As he pursued his career, Allen declares that his choices were frequently influenced by Rotary’s Four-Way Test, an ethical standard he was exposed to when he attended Rotary Youth Leadership Academy during high school.

Allen studied architecture at Kansas State University, graduating in 2005. Then he spent time in Honduras working and volunteering for Rotary projects there. Realizing he needed a graduate degree in order to teach, he attended Columbia University in New York to earn a Master of Science in Architecture and Urban Design.

Allen’s resume includes civil service work with the New York City Department of Design and Construction where he served as a Design Project Manager for homeless shelters throughout the city.

Allen also worked in Washington DC in the Office of Planning to foster “creative placemaking.”  That initiative sought to add value to public space while bringing community members together.  One example was converting parking spaces into pop-up stores or “shoplets.”  The process allowed small business owners to test their product concept in a market before investing significant time and money.

Allen says he is pleased to see Lawrence Central Rotary’s support for completing the Lawrence Loop.  He sees the Loop to be another example of bringing community together via infrastructure.  Allen observes that Rotary often plays a role as an intermediary between public and private initiatives such as the Loop.  

Stones Tell Stories

Rex Buchanan has spent most of his life studying and exploring the state of Kansas.  He is Director Emeritus of the Kansas Geological Survey, an accomplished science writer, and a popular naturalist commentator on Kansas Public Radio.  Buchanan is a long time resident of Lawrence and spent his early years near Little River in Central Kansas.  There he first encountered petroglyphs, rock carvings made by Native Americans in centuries past. 

Petroglyphs are usually found on sandstone outcroppings, bluffs or in caves.  Buchanan set out to document the notable petroglyphs in the valley of the Smokey Hills River.  He collaborated with Burke W. Grigs and Joshua L. Savaty to produce “Petroglyphs of the Kansas Smokey Hills”, University Press of Kansas.  Grigs served as project photographer, Burke worked with land owners and Buchanan wrote the text. 

Petroglyph from Ellsworth County: horse with a rider

The rock carvings documented by the trio shows a great variety of images; including humans, animals, geometric patterns, identifiers such as hand prints, representations of the sky, shamanism and story telling.  The petroglyphs are difficult to date, and Buchanan cautioned that care must be taken about making interpretations from a modern perspective.

The three authors faced a number of challenges as they worked. These carvings are vulnerable, erosion and vandalism have taken a serious toll. Most of the carvings are on private property. Accordingly, the book is not intended to be a visitor’s guide; the public does not have access to the majority of the sites.  Besides negotiating with land owners, descendants of the petroglyph creators had to be respected. 

Royalties for the book are dedicated to the Coronado Quivira Museum in Lyons, the Ellsworth County Historical Society, and the Native American Rights Fund.  The book is available for purchase in local book stores.

Beetles in a Box and Other Legacies

Charles D. Bunker discovered a time-saving way to clean skeletons. He put decaying animal remains into a corrogated cardboard box along with dermestid beetles. The bugs ate the flesh, leaving a clean specimen for the museum collection.

This innovative technique was one of many contributions that the shy, quiet and unassuming man would give to the field of natural history and to the KU Natural History Museum. Bunker was a leader in fieldwork and collecting, in curating, and in taxidermy. He helped to construct the landscape for the wild life panarama located in Dyche Hall. He also trained and mentored a cadre of future naturalists affectionately known as “Bunk’s Boys.”

Chuck Warner, retired business man and banker, was tempted into researching and writing a biography about Bunker–his grandfather– when he found family letters and records about him. It took Warner over ten years to write, re-write, and find a publisher for his book: Birds, Bones, and Beetles: the Improbably Career and Remarkable Legacy of University of Kansas Naturalist Charles D. Bunker. When asked how his book was received, Warner related this comment that he has heard from readers: “I didn’t think I would like it, but . . .” High praise for a first-time author.

Nicodemus and the African American Migration to Kansas after Reconstruction

Former club president Jim Peters recounted the history of Nicodemus, an all-African American community founded in 1877 in Graham County in northwest Kansas. Jim traced the legacy of slavery in America which existed in all 13 original colonies. By 1776 there were more than 500,000 slaves across the colonies, but by 1804 all Northern states had outlawed the practice. Just prior to the Civil War, the 1860 census counted nearly four million slaves throughout the South.

As the War was ending in 1865, states ratified the 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolishing slavery, inaugurating the period of Reconstruction across the South. In 1866, the 14th Amendment was passed, granting citizenship to anyone born in the United States and prohibiting states from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; or the equal protection of the laws. In 1869 the 15th Amendment was ratified guaranteeing the right to vote of all men regardless of race, color or previous condition of servitude. This period of Reconstruction saw important advancements for former slaves.

But following the contested presidential election of 1876, the Congress passed the Compromise of 1877 that ended Reconstruction, opening the way for a backlash to the advancements granted African Americans. Now facing the passage of Jim Crow laws, the emergence of the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremist groups, former slaves by the tens of thousands fled the South looking for true freedom and opportunities in the North and West.

An estimated 40,000 refugees fled to Kansas–the Free State and home of famed abolitionist John Brown—to take advantage of the Homestead Act, which offered 160 acres of land to any person willing to live on the property for five years. Nicodemus was settled by former slaves who fled Kentucky and other southern states and were promised verdant land offering ready farming and hunting. But its 600 inhabitants encountered an overwhelming lack of resources–no timber for building homes requiring families to live in damp, dark dugouts, untillable prairie grasslands, drought, little wildlife and austere weather.

Yet, the settlers withstood these challenges and within two years, Nicodemus prospered claiming two general stores, a post office, 35 dwellings, two churches, two livery stables, a hotel and a population of nearly 700.

But the failure to secure a railroad route through Nicodemus was the catalyst for a five-decade decline in its prosperity. Lack of investment, drought, the Depression and antagonism from its neighboring towns contributed to a declining population, the closing of its post office in the 1950s and its school in the 1960s.

Nonetheless, today Nicodemus Township supports a population of approximately 40 and is on the rise. In 1976, Nicodemus was named a National Historic Site and the National Park Service staffs a visitor center offering information about local history and things to do and see. To learn more visit their website.

Boys Thrive at O’Connell Youth Ranch

Gina Meier-Hummell, Executive Director of the O’Connell Youth Ranch, spoke to Rotarians about the work at the Youth Ranch. She is the former Secretary of the Kansas Department for Children and Families.

For 45 years, O’Connell Youth Ranch has been key to keeping young men out the prison system in Kansas. It sits on 125 acres east of Lawrence on O’Connell Road. There is currently space for 24 young men who range in age from 8 to 18 years-old in three houses. Residents attend the Lawrence Public Schools and/or work in the area.

Youth are referred to the Ranch by one of the Kansas state agencies that manages foster care placement. Most suffer from mental health issues, trauma, depression, addiction, and/or suicide. O’Connell is their home as long as needed, typically from 6 months to several years.

Meier-Hummel explains that residents find purpose in being active and making real contributions on a working ranch. The staff uses a strict behavior modification system, emphasizing positive reenforcement. The environment provides calm, rational, non-emotional, fair, and consistent direction to boys and young men who have not had such structure in the past. Successful behavior allows them to gain freedoms such as getting a driver’s license, finding a job, or joining a sports team at school. Most thrive in the structure and routine to learn self-control.

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