About

Our mission:

Common neighbors transforming common problems into an Uncommon Good

 

 

A Manifesto (of sorts)

Sometimes we want things that can hardly be put into words.  Yes, we want a functional, beautiful building that is open for the whole community to enjoy.  But we also want more than that.  We long for a neighborhood, for relationships and a world made right.  These desires are sometimes only accessible through art.  This manifesto serves as a hope and a promise to bring that future into the present.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

Our Values

restoring a distressed, urban neighborhood through dignity, beauty, belonging and imagination.

When we begin thinking about our neighborhood as a glass half full, not half empty, it changes everything.  It becomes about our assets rather than our needs, our possibilities rather then our problems.  When we partner with others outside our neighborhood who believe we have as much to offer them as they do to us, magic happens.  The moment we recognize one another as equals, as gifted, powerful people rather than as projects to be fixed is the moment we begin to recover our lost humanity.
Environment matters.  Every human being deserves beauty.  More than one hundred years ago, the citizens of our neighborhood who built the Franklin School believed that their children deserved a place that humbly reminded them that they are of incalculable worth, that they are sacred.  Policies of segregation and patterns of flight and disinvestment over this last century have eroded these sensibilities in our urban neighborhoods leaving blight, cynicism, and despair in it’s path.  We believe that every one of our children–black, brown, and white, rich and poor all deserve places of striking beauty that nourish the spirit.  They deserve art of every stripe to tell stories of truth that transcend the visible and remind them of their infinite value.
We have the audacious belief that a truly good life, perhaps the best life, can be found right here.  While other neighborhoods are built by trendy stores, restaurants and property value retention and the marginalized are pushed out as collateral damage, we want to define ourselves by belonging–where each of us find ourselves emotionally and spiritually connected to one another and to this place. We’re creating physical spaces for spontaneous interactions and opportunities to gather and enmesh our lives with one another.  We’re defining ourselves as a place where the vulnerable can flourish and become creators and co-owners of this community.  Belonging and justice are born when everyone believes that this neighborhood is ours to create.  
Imagination can alter reality.  In neighborhoods whose horizons seem limited and where cynicism can’t see beyond the status quo, there is no instrument that is as powerful as imagination.  This imagination is a spiritual grounding that nurtures a consciousness of an alternative to what we see.  Imagination isn’t fantasy.  It is a promise of another time and other more flourishing circumstances that begins to work and take root in us.  Imagination animates us and brings that future into the present.  

Peter Block

Community: The Structure of Belonging

“Community…is about the experience of belonging. It is the opposite of thinking that wherever I am, I would be better off somewhere else.”

Our People

We are a collective of social entrepreneurs, visionaries, and ordinary neighbors who are finding and redefining the good life in the Argentine neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas.

Our Team

Amber and Kurt are proud to call Argentine home. They are passionate about seeing the Franklin Center restored, but more importantly, they're passionate about the opportunities to create a deeper sense of community through through the Franklin Center.

Amber Booth

Director of Operations

Kurt Rietema

President

 

Franklin Center Board of Directors

 

Amber Booth
Amber is the Director of Operations for the Franklin Center, Inc and lives right here in Argentine.  Amber is a part of the Justice Initiatives team at Youthfront, where she does youth leadership development and works with local, Argentine youth to facilitate the Something to Eat, meal packaging program which address hunger both locally and globally.  Before moving to Argentine, Amber lived and worked as a site director in Mexico for seven years where she helped start an after-school program and youth development initiatives.  Amber recently completed her Masters Degree in Leadership from Mid-America Christian University(OK).
Kurt Rietema
Kurt is the President of Franklin Center, Inc.  He and his family have lived in Argentine since 2008 and relish the community and relationships that they have developed.  Kurt also serves as the Director of Justice Initiatives at Youthfront where he leads local and international staff in community and youth development initiatives.  His work spans from immigration advocacy to just housing and lending partnerships for immigrants as well as youth leadership development.  Kurt is also an adjunct in Social Justice at MidAmerica Nazarene University, a former site supervisor for AmeriCorps, and former Mexico site director where he oversaw a binational team facilitating microfinance projects, an afterschool program, family counseling, and youth development initiatives.
Tom Valverde
member
Bernard Franklin
member
Steve Davis
member
Mike King
Mike serves as President/CEO of Youthfront. Youthfront is a youth ministry organization committed to creating holistic, missional environments for Christian formation. Youthfront provides programs, services, resources and training. Mike also serves as the Executive Editor of Immerse: A Journal of Faith, Life and Mission and is an adjunct Professor at Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City. Mike and his wife, Vicki, live in Blue Springs, Missouri, a suburb of Kansas City. They have two sons, a daughter, a son-in-law and two granddaughters.
Alan Fogleman
member
Topher Philgreen
member
Max Perez
member