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The Women For Kansas convention will be opened Friday night, Aug. 29, in Wichita by approximately 500 women in yellow and green Women-for-Kansas T-shirts marching en masse from the convention hotel to the public rally.

The procession, led by school-aged drummers, will move from the hotel, across the street, and into the park.

The rally will be held at A. Price Woodard Park, on the west side of Century II, across the street from the convention hotel, the Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview, Wichita. The rally starts at 5:30 p.m., and the speakers begin at 5:45. The rally is not limited to registrants of the convention. The public is invited to attend.

The Cherokee Maidens with local singer, song-writer legend Robin Macy accompanied by Sycamore Swing will perform. Following the musical performance, the speakers will deliver stories that will energize participants to “take back Kansas.”

Speakers at the rally include:
• Vickie Stangl, private citizen from Wichita;
• Stephanie Harsin, educator from Topeka;
• Lindsey Benage, health care access advocate; and
• Anna Jenney, high school student concerned about her state.
There will be food trucks. Attendees should bring lawn chairs or blankets.

The convention is being held by Women for Kansas, a grassroots women’s initiative designed to energize and educate women from across the state and give them the knowledge and tools to go back to their communities to get out the vote for a new Kansas governor, secretary of state and U.S. senator. Thus far more than 500 women from 88 communities will be attending the convention. Workshops, speaker, training sessions, videos and social media will be used.

Sessions at the convention will cover education funding; tax inequities; healthcare funding and privatization; immigration, and the more than 20,000 Kansans whose voting rights are in limbo because of the new state voter registration law.

by Kelly Rogge

One of democracy’s greatest gifts is the idea that citizens have the power to vote and bring about change. To showcase that idea, Kansas City Kansas Community College’s Henry Louis Center for Global Transitional Justice plans to commemorate the United Nations Indigenous Peoples Day in September on the KCKCC main campus.

Ewa Unoke, a political science professor at KCKCC and director of the Henry Louis Center, said when the Charter of the United Nations was originally signed in San Francisco almost 70 years ago, colonized countries throughout the world won the legal right to self-determination. But in reality, he said, the first and original peoples or ethnic nations of Africa, Antarctica, Australia, Asia, Europe and North and South America did not earn such rights of representation at the U.N.

The Indigenous Peoples Day event is from 10 a.m. to noon Sept. 13 in Room 2325 at KCKCC, 7250 State Ave.

“If the artificially created countries have the right of membership to the United Nations, then the original ethnic nations ought to have the right of representation in an ethnic united nations,” Unoke said. “While the U.N. diplomats represent their national governments, the ethnic citizens of their countries are not represented.”

On Sept. 13, 2007, the U.N. General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples of the World. Unoke said for those involved with the Henry Louis Center, it’s time to end the economic, social and political exclusion of the original ethnic nations. He said the center’s Ethnic United Nations project is a radical, but forward-looking concept – mobilize interested citizens with human rights, restorative justice views to review and adopt a covenant on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples and to establish a global parliament or forum where common issues affecting the ethnic peoples are debated and action taken to ameliorate such problems.

“The idea is to invite indigenous peoples and human rights activists to represent their original ethnic nations and vote to convene an annual conference which will incrementally lead towards establishing an ethnic united nations,” Unoke said.

For more information or to make a reservation for the event, contact professor Ewa Unoke at 913-288-7119 or email at eunoke@kckcc.edu.

by Mary Rupert

Heartland Habitat for Humanity recently moved into new quarters at an office building on 18th Street north of I-70 in Kansas City, Kan.

The first day in the new office building, at 155 S. 18th St., Suite 120, was Aug. 21, said Tom Lally, executive director. The building contains professional offices. It also contains the local parole office.

The nonprofit Habitat organization, which increases the number of affordable homes for families and creates opportunities for low-income families to own their own homes, had to move from its location at the levee in the Fairfax area, as the buildings there were being torn down to make way for a redevelopment project.

“We’re a Wyandotte County organization, we do a lot of builds here. We cover and serve most of the metropolitan area. We felt it was important to maintain a Wyandotte County headquarters, so we looked diligently at all locations,” Lally said. “All had their pluses and minuses. Because of highway access, we decided on this location.”

He added that Habitat worked with the Unified Government and the levee project developer, NorthPoint.

He said that better technology at the new office will allow Habitat to hold more community meetings and training meetings.

“It’s a lot better, centrally located, and more accessible for our homeowners, and for the general public, to come in and take our common sense homeownership trainings,” he said.

Lally said there are three new home projects currently in Kansas City, Kan. Two homes in Armourdale will be finished in the next 30 days, he said. The dig for another project, on Mill Street, was just yesterday.

He said Heartland Habitat is in a conversation with the UG and a couple of private and nonprofit organizations to engage a specific Kansas City, Kan., neighborhood, bringing stakeholders and resources together there in 2015.

Besides new homes, Habitat is very active in helping to renovate old homes through “A Brush with Kindness” program and Veterans Housing Initiative, he said.

Recently, Heartland Habitat helped a World War II veteran who lives near the downtown area of Kansas City, Kan., he said.

Habitat’s vice president of construction went to look at the house, found it was overgrown with vegetation, trees, shrubs and poison ivy, he said. There were holes in the roof requiring an entire roof replacement.

A group of high school and college students who worked this summer with Heartland Habitat spent two weeks clearing brush, filling two dumpsters, he said. Then the UG came in and helped with the roof replacement.

Next, some minor repairs are planned; there were some mobility issues for the veteran.

“The gentleman was not looking for a handout; he was willing to help out,” Lally said. “We’re doing the right things for the right reason.”

Other new recent developments with Heartland Habitat include a new Habitat reStore opened in the Northland on the Missouri side of the metropolitan area. Now there are three Heartland Habitat reStores, including one in Kansas City, Kan., he said.

This year Heartland Habitat plans about eight home construction projects in Kansas City, Kan. Also, there are probably more than 40 “A Brush with Kindness” home repair projects planned here, he added.

In addition there are two more home construction projects planned for Olathe, Kan., and Liberty, Mo., as well as “A Brush with Kindness” projects.

“There’s need everywhere, as we’re finding out,” Lally said.

He added that Heartland Habitat is getting short on funds for Wyandotte County “A Brush with Kindness” projects. For the first time, there is a backlog of eligible projects, with some on hold until they get eligible funding, he said. The minor home repair projects have an average cost of about $1,500 each.

“We need funding and we need the volunteers to come out,” Lally said.

Corporations and businesses have been helpful, and funding has come in from a few plants in Kansas City, Kan., he added.

Office hours at the new Heartland Habitat location are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call 913-342-3047.