The Star has a new reporting team. And we need your help to shape it.

·3 min read

Hi there! I’m Allison Dikanovic. I’m the new kid in town at The Star and in Kansas City. I’ve just started as the editor of our new Service Journalism Desk. Trey was generous enough to pass the mic of this newsletter to me today, and that’s exactly what I wanted to talk about: how The Star can do a better job of sharing the mic to make sure more Kansas Citians have a hand in shaping journalism in our city.

Do you have questions about what your rights are as a tenant? When your kid will be able to get a vaccine? What the police department is spending its money on? Or maybe what your city council member even does? We want to hear your questions and find answers for you.

Our new Service Journalism team is dedicated to making sure our reporting is responding to what Kansas Citians want to know and sharing information that makes it easier to participate in our community.

That all starts with listening.

As journalists, we’re not the experts, but we are professionally curious. All of you, who make this city home, are the real experts. We want your experiences and curiosities to drive what we report on.

Together we can pull back the curtain on how the city works, what different decisions and changes mean for you and your family, and how you can get involved to make changes in your life and the city. We’ll dig into topics that are affecting us all every day like health, housing, the environment and civic engagement.

We know the news can be so overwhelming. We feel that too. We are here to cut through the noise and share information that’s clear, helpful and actionable.

Many members of our community, from organizers and small business owners, to your cool neighbor down the street—not just journalists—know how to share information and do so every day here in Kansas City, and we can’t wait to learn from you.

The first step of that is letting us know what’s on your mind, and what you want to see from this team. You’ll hear more from us in the coming weeks and months, too. We’ll be asking about specific topics, holding events and checking in for feedback from y’all.

To kick this off, make sure to ask us your KCQ using this form.

And please, school me on all things Kansas City. I’m here for it. You can find me at adikanovic@kcstar.com or on Twitter at @al_dikanovic.

Around the block

KC Tenants leader testified on Mayor Quinton Lucas’ housing trust fund proposal on Oct. 20, 2021.
KC Tenants leader testified on Mayor Quinton Lucas’ housing trust fund proposal on Oct. 20, 2021.

City Council changed its plans for the city’s housing trust fund after protests from KC tenants

How the city handles its housing trust fund will continue to be an essential conversation affecting Kansas City’s future, and the citywide tenant union is pushing for affordability to be at the forefront of that conversation. The city created the housing trust fund in 2018 to help revitalize neighborhoods, develop housing and implement preservation projects, but who oversees it and how the rest of the money is spent is still being determined.

The Star’s Cortlynn Stark writes:

“Leaders with KC Tenants have called on Lucas to commit to establishing a governing board of poor and working class tenants, creating social housing, and defunding the police and taxing gentrifiers to provide continued funding for a housing trust fund as opposed to one-time investments from developers.

This summer, the organization unveiled its People’s Housing Trust Fund. Funding for that would be divested from sources including the police department and developers. And the proposed programs would protect tenants’ rights, keep them housed and build power.

On Wednesday, about 30 tenants gathered in the council chambers, snapping after each member shared their story or shared a story on behalf of someone who couldn’t attend.

One woman said listening to the committee made her realize they were thinking about developers, not Kansas City residents.

‘I still have to live here. And I still deserve a right to affordable housing, not just for 20 years. If we set a minimum of 20 years, we’re saying 20 years works for us,’ she said. ‘I ask you once again to vote no on this ordinance so we can once again talk about what it looks like to be for the people of Kansas City and not for the developers that are coming in.’”

In case you missed it...

Beyond the block

Abortion-rights supporters take part in a protest Thursday, May 30, 2019, in St. Louis. A St. Louis judge heard an hour of arguments Thursday on Planned Parenthood’s request for a temporary restraining order that would prohibit the state from allowing the license for Missouri’s only abortion clinic to lapse at midnight Friday. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Abortion-rights supporters take part in a protest Thursday, May 30, 2019, in St. Louis. A St. Louis judge heard an hour of arguments Thursday on Planned Parenthood’s request for a temporary restraining order that would prohibit the state from allowing the license for Missouri’s only abortion clinic to lapse at midnight Friday. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Texas requests that the Supreme Court keep its controversial abortion law in place and repeal Roe v. Wade, too

All eyes are on the Supreme Court after another week of controversy over Texas’s abortion ban. On Monday, Biden’s Department of Justice called the court to block the law.

As abortion rights are on the table in Missouri, and in Kansas too, how the court responds will have ripple effects here too.

Robert Barnes writes for the Washington Post:

“The Supreme Court could decide what to do in the next few days. It is faced with the federal government’s request in U.S. v. Texas to put the law on hold. And abortion clinics and providers in Texas are asking in Whole Women’s Health v. Jackson that the court not wait for a ruling on the law from the 5th Circuit, which has scheduled a hearing on the merits of the law in early December.

The Supreme Court is scheduled on Dec. 1 to hear a challenge to the Mississippi law that conservatives have urged the court to use to overturn the constitutional right to abortion established by Roe.”

Did you see this?

For the culture

(Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images)
(Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images)

Billy Porter called out Vogue for featuring Harry Styles before him

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Billy Porter criticized Vogue for selecting Harry Styles as the first man on its cover, when Porter had been pushing boundaries of fashion and gender expression for longer.

Emily Mae Czachor writes for BuzzFeed:

“I changed the whole game,” Billy said. “I. Personally. Changed. The. Whole. Game. And that is not ego, that is just fact. I was the first one doing it and now everybody is doing it.”

“I feel like the fashion industry has accepted me because they have to. I’m not necessarily convinced and here is why,” he continued. “I created the conversation [about non-binary fashion] and yet Vogue still put Harry Styles, a straight white man, in a dress on their cover for the first time.”

“He is the one you’re going to try and use to represent this new conversation?” Billy went on, suggesting that Harry’s style is more a reflection of the moment than something personal.

“He doesn’t care, he’s just doing it because it’s the thing to do,” he said. “This is politics for me. This is my life. I had to fight my entire life to get to the place where I could wear a dress to the Oscars and not be gunned now. All he has to do is be white and straight.”

Harry hasn’t labeled his sexuality outright. Regarding his fashion choices, the singer told Vogue last year that gendered clothing norms are “limiting” and “there’s so much joy to be had in playing with clothes.”

“I’ve never really thought too much about what it means—it just becomes this extended part of creating something,” he said at the time.

Even though Harry’s Vogue cover seemed like a valuable step away from conventional gender presentations, in the magazine and across the fashion industry, Billy’s response to it is so valid. Breaking boundaries is cool, but authenticity, representation, and due recognition are just as important.

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Talk soon!

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