Peer Learning Groups Foster Collaboration in Northeast

Published on March 28, 2024

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Launched last Fall 2023, the Unified Government (UG) Department of Planning & Urban Design has been collaborating with the Groundwork Northeast Revitalization Group (Groundwork NRG) to host a series of Peer Learning Groups for residents of Northeast KCK. Each cohort consists of approximately 15 residents who work together to become experts on a particular subject in their community.

This most recent series focused on the topic of soil contamination and brownfields. Brownfields are "real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant." Brownfields blight communities across the country, inhibiting economic development and contaminating the environment.

Northeast KCK has a large number of vacant parcels across the neighborhood. Past demolition practices and the historical use of contaminants such as lead and asbestos can lead to a higher rate of soil contamination. Through the Peer Learning Group, residents shared their lived experiences with contamination, learned how to identify potential brownfields, and were connected with information about existing programs and services to address contamination. 

"The Peer Learning Groups have been an incredible experience - bringing together community members across Northeast KCK to share their experiences with contamination, learn from experts in the field, and connect to actionable steps to address environmental injustice," said Alyssa Marcy, Unified Government's Long-Range Planner. "These residents are a multi-lingual group passionate about making changes to improve the community and are passionate about becoming more knowledgeable, and by extension, more empowered to take action."

The Unified Government featured speakers covered the kNOw Lead Program, for example. PhD students from the Kansas State University's Spill and Environmental Chemistry Program, pictured below, demonstrated how lead testing in soil on one land bank parcel and two residential properties in the Northeast.

Peer Learning Groups are funded by Groundwork NRG and attendees are paid for their time to participate and provided childcare, meals and transportation. These efforts are in line with the Unified Government policies incorporated in PlanKCK, our recently adopted comprehensive plan, which established goals for environmental justice and a vision for community prosperity.

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