Wichita has amenities that are promoted as creating an uncommonly superior quality of life here, but many are commonplace across the country.
A recent graphic appeared on several sites that comments on the efforts of cities and their residents to create distinctive amenities and characteristics. I’ve reproduced the text of the image below, because some of the text is difficult to read due to the busy background. (The image may be seen here.) How much of this is present in Wichita or your city?
Sure to become a favorite of every southern, mid-sized or rust-belt city, this game implores you to explore your city and find out what makes it unique … like every other place.
Ramen, Ramen, Ramen!!!
Absurd rent in once-affordable places
“Crazy” donut recipe
Many empty lofts
Spinning, crossfit, and yoga
Bar with “Whiskey” in name
Restaurant named (Something) & the (Something)
Chicago cows, but it’s a local thing
One good food truck out of 30
Quirky, local T-shirt industry
People telling you how good it “used to be”
Dueling farmer’s markets
Empty apartments used for AirBnB
Vibrant kickball scene
Unused community garden
That one band/artist who made it
Guy with stories about band/artist who made it
Indie radio station with cult-like following
Airport that requires connection to somewhere interesting
Local fat-guy food
Robust private schools for rich white transplants
Local ice cream shop with “cornbread” and “Earl Gray” flavors
(I left off a square with foul language and corrected a few misspellings.)
These things are good to have, although people will disagree on items like scooters and absurd rent, and I suppose an unused community garden is, well, unused.
But often we hear Wichita’s boosters speak as though these things are unique to Wichita. By having them, they say, Wichita is a leader, and good things such as a flourishing economy will follow.
But we can’t afford to be lulled into complacency or a celebration of grand achievement when so much data says otherwise:
- Wichita has a low unemployment rate, but the cause is slow job growth paired with a declining labor force. See The cause of the low unemployment rate in Wichita.
- Given recent data and WSU CEDBR forecasts, Wichita’s momentum is a slowly growing economy, with the rate of growth declining. See Wichita jobs and momentum.
- To fill new retail space in downtown, the city has to offer nearly free rent to a tenant. See What the Block 1 amendment says about downtown Wichita.
- Despite heavy promotion and investment in downtown Wichita, the number of jobs continues to decline. See Downtown Wichita jobs decline.
- In a report looking at the economics of the 100 largest metropolitan areas, Wichita often ranks near the bottom. See Metro Monitor for Wichita, 2019 edition.
- The city and the metropolitan area are losing population. See Wichita population, 2018.
We should keep striving to grow our city, its economy, and the prosperity of its residents. What we’ve done, however, hasn’t worked very well, yet most of our leaders think we’re doing fine. With a new mayor, perhaps that will change.
For more about this and references to other writers on this topic, see Wichita, not that different