Anne Kniggendorf | KCUR

Anne Kniggendorf

Contributor

Anne Kniggendorf is a freelance writer based in Kansas City, whose work has appeared in local media outlets as well as in the Smithsonian Magazine, Saturday Evening Post, Electric Literature, Publishers Weekly, Ploughshares, and several literary reviews, including two as far away as India and Scotland.

She’s a graduate of St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she did not study journalism but Western philosophy and historical mathematics. She holds an MFA from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in creative writing, which she thinks is close enough to journalism the way she does it. Anne is a Navy veteran.

Transit isn't about vehicles; it's about people. When Robbie Makinen lost his vision in 2013 and suddenly had to get around town without his sight, he came to understand that more clearly than ever. Here's his story.

  • Robbie Makinen, CEO, Kansas City Area Transportation Authority

Segment 1: New distilleries revive the past, with a twist.

Why was 9th street, in the West Bottoms, once known as the "wettest block"? Why did a spirits industry thrive here in the 19th century and then fade even before Prohibition? And what's it like to ride the slide at the new East Bottoms facility for J. Rieger & Co.?

Segment 1: Could opportunity zones change the landscape of investment in Kansas City?

As part of the bipartisan 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, opportunity zones encouraging private investment in distressed areas have been identified in every state. We get an explainer on how it works, along with on-the-ground insights into how the five opportunity zones in Kansas City, Missouri might stand to benefit. 

Peep Game Productions

To underline that music really is the universal language, a classically trained violinist from Kansas City, Kansas, has blended musical languages on her first solo recording.

Musician Katina Bilberry, known on stage as K’Tina (pronounced Kay Tina), had an epiphany on a visit to Kenya during her time as an undergraduate at William Jewell College.

Segment 1: A hopeful billboard has a story behind it.

When artist Nicole Leth lost her father to suicide, she told herself she would focus all her energy on spreading positivity. Now a billboard in Kansas City stands testament to that promise.

  • Nicole Leth, artist

Segment 2: A Kansas City musician rocks the violin in her new EP.

Library of Congress

Though Langston Hughes began his writing career nearly a century ago, Anthony Bolden says Hughes continues to speak to the current social and political climate — better than most contemporary writers do.

"In many ways, the current group of writers, that is to say creative writers and scholars, have yet to offer meaningful critiques or explanations for why we’re experiencing some of the things that are happening, or to demonstrate a clear understanding of the critical problems that we face," Bolden says.

Jim Lightfoot

Missy Koonce has figured out that "weird ages well."

For 30 years, the actor, writer and director has entertained Kansas City with her character acting, parodies of old shows like "Bonanza," and for a while, as owner of Bar Natasha.

That local legacy will be capped this fall when Koonce moves to Indianapolis, Indiana, where her partner has been transferred for work.

"I think what I'm most excited about, about going someplace new, is nobody knows me there," she said.

Matthew Hawkins

Commercial artist Matthew Hawkins is in his mid-40s and feeling like more of his life is behind him than ahead of him. So, he took some time off from his paying art jobs to nail down a personal project he’s worked on for the past four years.

Hawkins, who lives in Overland Park, calls Walt Disney one of his clients. His art, largely paper sculptures, is sold in Disney’s theme park art galleries, but he's also designed do-it-yourself paper toys for GameStop, Arby's, Steak ’n Shake, GE, Newsweek, Crayola and Barnes & Noble.

Gabby Poulos / Yarn Social

Kansas City knitters and crocheters are not immune to the ugly politics often associated with social media — though this may surprise anyone hanging onto the idea that only sweet old ladies knit.

At the end of June, a website called Ravelry banned users who actively voice their support for President Trump.

The site serves as a social space for 8 million fiber art enthusiasts, that is, people who make things with yarn.

Segment 1: The changing culture of language-learning in professional baseball.

About 25 percent of Major League Baseball players were from Spanish-speaking countries on Opening Day in March. What role do professional baseball teams play in incorporating language-learning into their players' transitions to living and playing in the United States?

File photo / Advocates for Immigrant Rights and Reconciliation Kansas City

Celia Calderon Ruiz hands out Constitutional rights doorhangers to recent immigrants in her Kansas City community. The hangers serve as a reminder that no one need allow law enforcement into their homes without a warrant signed by a judge.

Segment 1: A Fringe-famous performer tells his story.

Brother John is a pastor and storyteller who researches characters from African-American history then creates performances that bring history to life. He's become a regular contributor to Kansas City's Fringe Festival. This year, he's focusing on Smoky Robinson.

Laura Robeson quit her job as a fourth-grade teacher to care for her son, who has cerebral palsy and other health problems. But as politicians considered cuts to various health care programs, she felt compelled to become an activist, working with others to speak out for families like hers.

That culminated at the State of the Union Address in February. Kansas Congresswoman Sharice Davids chose Robeson to attend as her guest, providing a real-world example of the role federal healthcare policies play in a citizen's life.

Public Domain

Vegetarians have their reasons for not eating meat. But "I am an optimist" doesn't have a regular spot on lists more typically focused on health and environmental benefits.

Optimism was, however, the Englishman Henry Clubb's rationale more than 100 years ago, when he enticed dozens of people to move to the radical territory of Kansas to start a vegetarian settlement in what is now Allen County.

It didn't go well.

Segment 1: New research shows a difference between what we expect and what we experience when it comes to humor in romance. 

Data suggests that in heterosexual relationships, men tend not to recognize that their partner's sense of humor is a major determinant of long-term happiness. Why not?

  • Jeffrey Hall, professor of communication studies, University of Kansas

Segment 2: A nineteenth-century vegetarian settlement in Kansas inspires further investigation.

Savannah Meyer

A 17-year-old Lee's Summit artist is among those in the Kansas City area who now have something in common with Andy Warhol, Sylvia Plath and Lena Dunham: a national medal from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

The list of past winners indicates the caliber of work a student must produce to win, and the possibility of winners' future influence on high and pop culture.

Trae Q.L. Venerable

Trae Q.L. Venerable is a lot of things: a horseman, a houndsman, a writer and an educator, for sure. But foremost, he’s a real-life cowboy who doesn’t fit the image found in most western movies or in country music.

The Kansas City writer is African American and a mix of Choctaw, Cherokee and Black Foot as well as a fourth generation cowboy. He thought he'd do well to write books that honor those previous generations as well as future generations of cowboys of color.

Segment 1: As the tourism industry grows, so do questions about the impact of travel.

Are there ways to enjoy greater acess to travel while also treading more lightly on the destinations we visit? Or do we simply need to cut back?

Mike Strong

How many words are necessary to thrill an audience with a murder mystery? Choreographer Kristopher Estes-Brown says he can do it in two: "Look out!"

After all, he suggests, excitement happens in the body as much as in the mind.

"If you're trying to say very visceral things — fear and intrigue and distrust — the body is a really good vessel for that," Estes-Brown says.

The words "look out" are the only ones spoken in what is otherwise a dance performance. Titled "Alibi," its show is billed as a noir thriller.

Records of the War Department General and Special. Staffs.

One day in September of 1918, First Lieutenant George Robb's job was to take a French town called Sechault from the Germans who'd claimed it. At the time, he was commanding a group of African-American soldiers of the 369th Infantry called the Harlem Hellfighters.

Robb was wounded in what became a machine-gun fight that day, as were many of the men he fought beside. Some of them, including Robb, were recommended for the Medal of Honor, the highest award for valor in action against an enemy, and typically presented by the president of the United States.

Betty Rae's

For morel mushroom enthusiasts, hunting — and eating — season never feels long enough. If only the fungusy goodness could be prolonged somehow…

Chad Tillman and David Friesen have cracked the code, giving the fungi a longer life by putting them in beer and ice cream.

"The concept is, let's make a beer, and we can release it a little later," says Tillman, a chef at Freshwater who recently teamed with Crane Brewing in Raytown. "No one's eating morel mushrooms right around this time unless you're from the north."

Segment 1: A New York Times reporter sees votes for Quinton Lucas as votes for neighborhoods.

The weekend before Kansas City's mayoral election, a story appeared in the New York Times suggesting that this election came down to a choice: continued emphasis on downtown, or a shift toward prioritizing neighborhoods struggling in downtown's shadow. The author joins us to reflect on the outcome.

Mark Manning

Kansas City artist Ryan Wilks' new exhibition at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center attracted a group of women who formed a circle and prayed. It's not uncommon, Wilks says, for Christians to offer help with eternal salvation.

Wilks used to be offended by the behavior, but in this case it only provoked a shrug.

"The title itself, 'Hell' — it's blasphemy," says Wilks (who prefers plural pronouns). So they understand the women's impulse.

Copyright Nina Chanel Abney / Courtesy of Rubell Family Collection, Miami

In the middle of June, Patricia MacHolmes travelled from Chicago to Kansas City for the baseball, the wine, the food and the museums — in particular, the "30 Americans" exhibition at the Nelson-Atkins.

As she walked around the exhibition on a Wednesday afternoon, MacHolmes said she was taken by how 90 pieces of art tell a story about African Americans.

Segment 1: Why does Kansas City look like swiss cheese?

If you look at a map of Kansas City, you'll find little holes of independent towns, such as Platte Woods and North Kansas City. We speak with representatives from some of these non-annexed communities to talk about how these tiny towns fit into the fabric of the bigger city.

Lynsay Holst / KCPD

On National Doughnut Day last week, the Kansas City Missouri Police Department's Twitter account posted a joke about cops and doughnuts.

In a photograph, several rows of yellow long johns spelled out "Caution Do Not Cross," along with the message: "For some reason our crime tape keeps disappearing."

That tweet was authored by the same woman who gifts the Metro with an annual safety message about deer in the roads.

Segment 1: In honor of the Women's World Cup, we ask what's up with the sport here in Kansas City.

We lost our professional women's soccer team in 2017. Kansas City isn't alone; the national league is having a hard time maintaining enough teams to sustain their seasons, despite the sport's popularity among girls.

Michael Cannon / Flickr -- Creative Commons

If every American followed the USDA's dietary recommendations — two and a half cups of vegetables and two cups of fruit — demand would far exceed supply.

"It's difficult to grow fruits and vegetables, which are considered specialty crops under federal law, and which receive far fewer supports," says Beth Low-Smith, vice president of policy for KC Healthy Kids and director of the Greater KC Food Policy Coalition.

Shelley Staib

Shelley Staib held the "best job ever" for 30 years. In 1975, the Shawnee writer was one of the first women to become a lineman for Bell Systems. The position gave her a great deal of independence, allowed her to work outside, and every day was different.

Ashley Coats / Glore Psychiatric Museum

Skulls and bones have a lot to say.

Among the most basic pieces of information they hold are the gender, age and sometimes cause of death of their former user.

"It's all recorded on the bones. All we have to do is teach people how to interpret those markers left on bone," says Ashley Burns-Meerschaert, who is headed to the Glore Psychiatric Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri to teach forensics classes.

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