Edit 8/7. There are two Josh Davis who live in East Lawrence (maybe more). This post was written by me (I live on 9th street; my picture on Twitter profile), not the Josh Davis who is past president of ELNA and currently on the board. He mentioned that there has been confusion multiple times, so just wanted to clarify.


I haven’t blogged for a couple years, but these last couple months have prompted me start again because of an important issue.

My wife and I were out enjoying the Food Truck festival on May 2nd. This event occurred in the 800 block of Pennsylvania, a couple blocks from our house. This event was generally viewed as a success by all involved, including the neighborhood and Just Food, who raised thousands of dollars to fight hunger in Douglas County. We are thankful to live in East Lawrence, where a number of these events occur.

Yet, on that night, we came home to find that someone had put a sign in our yard with an ominous message of “TURN BACK NOW!!”.  This was disturbing on many levels. Chief among them, using our yard without permission to put out a message that we are diametrically opposed to. I removed the sign, and moved on.

Now a video has been released that is trying to target the East Ninth project as some monstrous event that is comparable to Colonialism. The video would be potentially funny if it wasn’t so full of mischaracterizations and misinformation. As I finish watching the video, what do I find, but video of children walking in front of our house with the “TURN BACK NOW!!” sign in front of it.

(Above: Screen capture of my house and the sign)

This misrepresentation of our views was not only displayed that night, but now is being used in this piece trying to mischaracterize the East Ninth project, my wife and I’s position on it, and the community’s position.

The group putting up these protest signs is characterizing the opposition to the East Ninth project as greater than it really is. They are putting signs on properties whose owners/representatives are in favor of the project. This isn’t limited to just our house. Turnhall, Charlie’s East Side and the AME Church have all had signs placed on their property, despite each owner/representative being in favor of the project going forward.

To put it mildly, this misrepresentation really upset me. So much so that I drafted a long blog post on Friday pointing out issues in the video and attacking the tactics of the this small group of opposition.

But after talking to artists this weekend at Final Fridays and reading letters in support for project from local artists, I realized now is not the time to be angry. There is widespread support for the project (as represented by residents, Lawrence artist project submissions, the East Ninth citizen advisory committee votes and the City Commission vote), and it is time to move forward and actually get into the nut and bolts design phase. I have confidence that this project will move forward, and unless meaningful efforts are made to derail it, it is time for all of us to work together to make it the best project possible for Lawrence and our neighborhood.

If you want to watch the video that includes the misrepresentation of my position, you can find it here. The screen capture above is in the last minute.

If you have questions on this project, I encourage you to visit the detailed East Ninth project site from the City of Lawrence.

Edit 8/4: Adding a link to the East Ninth FAQ that is being hosted on a website created by East Lawrence residents (myself included). This FAQ includes update timelines and artist information for the project.


4 Responses to East Ninth project has significant support despite mischaracterizations

  1. nick danger says:

    And who are you accusing of planting this sign, with whatever nefarious motivation?

    Rhetorical, I think you planted the sign– Looks like you primarily don’t want any interference with your ability to cash in on a speculative venture.

  2. Josh Davis says:

    Hello Nick,

    Around a dozen signs appeared around the neighborhood on the night of the food truck festival. As I mentioned in the piece, there didn’t seem consideration of where they signs were placed. There was at least one sign at the AME Church across the street and then all along Ninth. And in the following months dozens of more signs went up. I can name a couple people who put up some of these signs. Some of them are those who appeared in this video and the previous one from the same creators. I don’t know what that serves at this point.

    Neither my wife or I put up this sign. As I stated, I came home to find it. If you knew either of us, you would know how appalled we would be by finding this message in our yard. We welcome people visiting our neighborhood.

    Also, even if one played into your conspiracy scenario, it was rather a complex ruse. We had to create the sign. Spend three months supporting the East Ninth project vocally and on the record with the City Commission, and then know that an independent video group shot video of the sign that night, and then that group would then include said video of it two months later in a video I didn’t even know would ever exist.

    In terms of your claims that “looks like you primarily don’t want any interference with your ability to cash in on a speculative venture”, I have one personal financial interest in East Lawrence and that is my house which I purchased with a mortgage eight years ago. I love East Lawrence and have no plan to move or sell my home.

    Also, unlike some people who oppose this project, I have embraced a spirit of compromise. When I was asked by individuals in the neighborhood to add my support to a conservation overlay and down-zoning (consider by some to be a anti-development tool), I signed a petition. When asked by a neighbor, I also specifically signed a document that asked that my home be added to single family zoning. Finally, my employer isn’t even based in Kansas or the region, so I don’t have any other financial motivation. I outlined by motivations in the blog post above.


  3. Bruce eggers says:

    Nick danger?!? C’mon. I know Josh, never met nick danger. Who are you actually, why are you using a handle rather than your name? Thanks
    Bruce eggers

  4. Rio Bravo says:

    The people in that video are right. Neighborhood residents should be allowed to usurp the power given to the city commission by the state legislature and use criteria that exists exclusively in the heads of a loud minority of citizens to make ad hoc decisions about city-owned land and right-of-way. Why, just the other day the city had the audacity to erect two new signs in the park nearest my house and replace several crumbling sections of sidewalk without giving me any notice whatsoever of their intention to beautify my neighborhood and make pedestrian travel safer.

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