The Bottom-Up Revolution Is…Collaborating for Neighborhood Revitalization

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If you wanted to decrease crime in your neighborhood, what would you do? Say there’s a park where people tend to hang out selling and doing drugs, getting into trouble, and making the rest of the neighbrohood feel unsafe… Would you set up more police patrols? Install brighter lighting? Maybe cut down the bushes that protect the park from public view? These are all typical tactics that cities use.

But today’s guest on The Bottom-Up Revolution podcast tried something very different: He and the organizations he leads —the Lykins Neighborhood Association and Neighborhood Legal Support of Kansas City—have been combatting crime in a Kansas City neighborhood through activity and development. 

Gregg Lombardi is a practicing lawyer and has been using legal strategies to help a neighborhood procure abandoned homes and rehab them.  His organization serves as a facilitator, convener, and liaison for development, helping bring together the financial resources to make these projects happen and, most importantly, giving primary focus to listening to what residents want to see in their neighborhood. They’re also spurring neighborhood activities—like soccer practice and local events in that now formerly dangerous park.

When we see disinvested neighborhoods, we shouldn’t just throw up our hands and conclude they’re on a downward trajectory that can’t be stopped. Lombardi says: “There are a lot of problems in neighborhoods that are solvable.” The work happening in the Lykins Neighborhood of Kansas City is already serving as a pilot project for development and revitalization in other neighborhoods, too.

In this interview, hosted by Rachel Quednau, you’ll see the incremental, “small bets” approach that Lombardi and the neighbors involved in the project are employing. You’ll also learn about how so many challenges and opportunities in our neighborhoods are interconnected: public space, housing, safety, local businesses, and more. 

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