Yellowbrick Street Team Making Wichita a Better Place
Wichita is a great place to live, and we have groups like the Yellowbrick Street team to thank for striving to make our city the best it can be.
The Yellowbrick Street Team is a tactical urbanism collective working to make Wichita more livable and lovable through small-scale, grassroots urban design and creative interventions. What does that mean, exactly? It’s actually pretty simple.
“We aim to connect, engage, and inspire Wichitans through pop-up placemaking, tactical design interventions, participative public art, and creative community engagement,” said Alex Pemberton, founder of the Yellowbrick Street Team.
If you’ve ever seen brightly colored Wichita flags, Keepers, and positive phrases about Wichita painted on manhole covers and sidewalks, you’ve got the Yellowbrick Street Team to thank. Part of one of their first and most recognized project, called Cover Wichita, these beautiful but temporary pieces of art are still talked about today.
About the Yellowbrick Street Team
Pemberton formed the Yellowbrick Street Team in June of 2016.
“We are not a business or a 501(c)3. We're just a group of individuals who are passionate about making Wichita better. We think there is a lot of power in that. It shows the community that everyone can create positive change. Our greatest benefit to the community is to inspire others toward action,” Pemberton said.
Pemberton researched the manner in which urban design impacts people’s experience in cities and what he found inspired him to affect change in Wichita.
“The built environment is the only thing that every person interacts with every day, but because of that ubiquity we tend not to recognize its influence,” he said. “Yellowbrick Street Team focuses on drawing attention to these issues in a way that helps Wichitans visualize a different type of urban design in a fun and engaging way.”
Yellowbrick Street Team Projects
In addition to Cover Wichita, the group organized Wichita's first Park(ing) Day, an international event during which on-street parking spaces are transformed into miniature public spaces for a single day.
The group saw a recent victory with an anonymous toilet plunger campaign, in which the adhered a dozen toilet plungers wrapped in reflective tape to the lines of the often-neglected bicycle lane at 1st and Washington. This intersection is "notorious in the cycling community for cars improperly using the bike lane as a right turn lane, endangering and discomforting both cyclists and car drivers," according to a post by Pemberton. Photos of the plungers went viral internationally. The city responded, placing vertical delineators along the 1st Street bike lane approaching Washington, creating the first protected on-street bike lane in Wichita.
Ideas and initiatives like these go a long way in making Wichita the best it can be. Yellowbrick Street Team’s next event is just around the corner.
Taking place on March 18, ICT Flash Dine may be the group’s most unique event yet. The 100 percent free, family-friendly event is a bring-your-own-everything community dinner, specifically designed to connect and engage Wichitans of all ages and backgrounds. There’s a catch though. The location is secret! Those who wish to attend can sign up to receive an email announcing the location at noon on the day of the event, just six hours before it starts! How cool is that?
More detail and additional projects can be found online.
How to Get Involved
“There are a number of ways to get involved, from lending your network to volunteering for individual projects, to being a full team member who helps to envision and execute projects,” Pemberton said.
You can also check out the group on Facebook.