For the past ten years, UFG founders have been working hard to change the odds within one disadvantaged and underdeveloped neighborhood in urban Kansas City, and abroad. From after school programs, and community gardens to building aquaponic fish farms at orphanages in India and Mexico to contributing to an open source network of best practices and DIY tutorials.
Open Source Bootstrap Community Development
UFG utilizes alternative forms of capital and works to get things done by whatever means available and with assets the community already has in place. It’s organic in nature. We share our work globally through an open-source model. We work hard to put appropriate technologies in place to help villages thrive in extraordinary circumstances. We raise up local talent and provide access to tools, knowledge and human capital. Together, we are cultivating the groundwork for the next generation to thrive.
Urban KC Campus
The UFG Lykins campus consists of city farm lots, cottage businesses, a makerspace, co-working space, greenhouses, solar arrays, a tool library, aquaponics, community gardens, classes and programs. A plethora of human capital exists for the community to thrive from within. It’s a place where dreams become closer to reach. A place where opportunity, access to healthy food and skills training is increasing. Crime is down 20% from ten years ago and the neighborhood is slowly becoming more resilient and organized. We are partners among many great neighbors doing far more good together than we can take credit for ourselves.
In 2012, UFG incorporated as a 501c3 nonprofit organization. Today, the organization, alongside a vast network of volunteers, active neighbors, teachers, makers, inventors, farmers, artists, dreamers, DO-ERS, sister organizations and thousands of subscribers and sponsors work tirelessly to make a difference. Find out more about UFG Founders, Board Members, and Sponsors here.
UFG began as a band of pioneers, neighbors and volunteers of various backgrounds and affiliations working together to empower the poor. Ten years ago, UFG alongside others, began work in one of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in the urban core of Kansas City. Tired of perpetuating programs and treating the poor of our own cities like a refugee camp, we realized that healing would have to come from within the community itself. We moved into the community to join and participate in rebuilding a legacy that once was and to become a strong support system and ally. We believe deep proximity is necessary. Only the community itself can fully identify with the pain and obstacles it faces. We would have to see it, feel it and become a part of it–to go into a community that many have fled.
Because we didn’t have much money ourselves, we specialized in ways to make an impact without money–making friends, cleaning up decades of trash on vacant lots, buying parcels for pennies and houses for singles, leasing land to build community gardens, utilizing thousands in reclaimed materials, trading worm castings for dump truck loads of new soil and compost. We borrowed space and did afterschool programs. We grew lots of food and became a safe place for sparks to fly and for ideas to take flight. We took the seeds in our pockets and every square foot we owned and went about like mad scientists testing out innovative ideas from all around the world and making them work in one of the most blighted neighborhoods in Kansas City and to the far reaches of India. Everything from urban fish farming to alternate energy, from prototyping to after school programs and adult skills classes held at the makerspace. We bled, we covered the earth in sweat, saw the good and every range of bad, and we grew. The impact of this experiment has gone around the world and has inspired others to contribute beyond our ability to take credit for it. We merely participate, document, and cheer our peers onward.
10 Years Later
Ten years later, the Lykins neighborhood is thankfully still not trendy or gentrified, but it is instead a beautiful place for cultures and classes to intersect. It is a place to grow wings and take flight, or come and stay and buy a house for $1. Raw talent and hope is growing right out of the cracks in the asphalt. And we are here to help protect that culture from the market forces at play. On the ground we are not considered UFG’s, we are just neighbors–you cannot tell us apart. We are merely cheerleaders, catalysts and peacemakers along with the rest of the great people here where a diverse community of neighbors speak 20 languages. And we are having the time of our lives, seeing life come into bloom! And we are not the only ones. Others like us exist all over the planet, who believe that things can be different, can be recreated, repurposed, redeemed, and are working to rebuild the village and cultivate life from the broken pieces around them. You are the change.
UFG Lykins Campus serves as an open source project node, open workspace and laboratory that serves to document and broadcast low tech, appropriate technologies and best practices at work. It is a place where global contributors to open source projects can apply to come and work in our Makerspace and live locally for the duration of their project, especially any project that advances Local Economy, Local Capacity, and Local Resiliency and is willing to be documented through an open-source model. Likewise, partnering villages or nodes give back to the global open source community through the sharing of information and resources. During your stay, you will have access to the MakerSpace & workshop within walking distance of your housing for the low cost of boarding or for free if commissioned or participating in a sponsored project. See sponsored projects here.