Tabatha Mills is a Bakersfield, California native. She spent most of her childhood on a farm, in a ballet studio or on the basketball court. All three still hold a very special place in her heart. Given her basketball background she's very excited to now live in Lawrence, the home of the University of Kansas Jayhawks.
Tabatha attended college at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California. She majored in agribusiness and minored in agricultural communications, journalism, marketing, and theatre. After graduating she worked in the California rodeo system as a marketing and public relations manager. She then interned with the Tampa Bay Rays in Florida as an on-field in-game coordinator. After that, she found herself in front of the camera working as an anchor and reporter in east Tennessee. That was until that fateful day that she applied at 6News and knew from the first email she received from News Director Lindsey Slater that she wanted to join the 6News team!
Outside of work, Tabatha enjoys volunteering for various organizations whenever she can. She loves working with children and given her chipper attitude, they love working with her. She also enjoys the arts and all they encompass. From music, to movies, to art exhibits. There's a good chance you can find her enjoying something arts related.
Tabatha said it is her goal every day to bring a smile to someone's face. If you've ever spent 20 minutes with her, you'll probably leave with one.
In ending her bio, she had a few things to say. The first, something her father says to her nearly every day: "Gabba Gabba Hey."
The second, her favorite: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. You're playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It's not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." - Marianne Williamson
You can find Tabatha on Facebook here and follow her on Twitter here.
"We all have a common goal of creating culture here in Lawrence and taking the arts as far as we can take them. It's always strength in numbers you know so it's great to have 20 visual artists and anywhere up to 30 people playing in bands. There's a lot of energy there and that's kind of our mission, just create," said Erock Johanssen, SeedCo resident artist.
That's exactly what will happen at SeedCo Studio's new creative laboratory in the Warehouse Arts District in East Lawrence.
"Creative people working with all kinds of mediums and space to realize their visions and realize their ideas, and be supported and you know collaborate," said Jesse Gray, a SeedCo resident artist.
While continuing SeedCo's original vision, resident artists said the new space will also bring a re-birth to the studio.
"I think we're just trying to engage people and bring more awareness that there's culture going on on the east side, it doesn't stop at downtown," said Gray.
What better way to do that than with SeedCo Harvest, an art and music festival.
"Just to, kind of, highlight the new space that we have. We've been at the other space for two years. We've had a lot of people come through and a lot of public support, but now that we're moving we want to raise awareness to that. It's kind of our grand opening, we want everybody to come out and see what SeedCo's next step and the progression is," said Johanssen.
The festival is not just about the studio and its artists. Money raised from the event will benefit two Lawrence non-profits, Healthy Sprouts and VanGo, Inc. SeedCo Harvest is set to take place September 13 at the Warehouse Arts District in the 800 block of Delaware. Tickets are $8.00 pre-sale, $10.00 at the door. Children five and under are free.
The festival will include eight live bands, 21 visual artists from SeedCo Studios and Fresh Produce Arts Collective, and 16 local food, retail, beer and activity vendors. Vendors include: The Merc, 715, Drasko's, Ingredient Five Bar and Tables, Mass St Soda, Arizona Trading Company, Third Planet, Mad Greek, Scone Lady's, Burger Stand, Cosmos Indian Store & Café. Free State Brewing Company will also be featured at the festival.
Chris Orlando is an eighth grade U.S. History, and Model United Nations teacher at Southwest Middle School in Lawrence. Every day his students look forward to his singing. His reason for busting a rhyme or humming a tune?
"Fun. I mean that's very simple, but the bottom line is if it's fun then the kids will be engaged and my number one goal is to engage as many kids as I can," said Orlando.
According to Orlando, these kids can't help but learn while sitting in his class. Not only do they learn about U.S. History and current social events, but Orlando said they also improve their critical thinking skills.
"It's really almost a three party agreement. There's a lot of complexities with it. There's a lot of leases in addition to the land transaction itself. We had originally thought that the project would go out to bid in the fall, but we worked with the Kansas Department of Transportation and we're going to put that off a bit," said Diane Stoddard, Assistant City Manager.
Stoddard said right now things have slowed somewhat because of the complexity of the ownership and use of the building.
"We have been working on the acquisition of the Santa Fe Station with the BNSF Railway. They're the owner of the station. Also Amtrak operates out of the station as folks know. So we also have to work with Amtrak to make sure they're okay with the transfer of the property to the city," said Stoddard.
The Depot was built in the 1950's and Stoddard said much hasn't changed since that time.
"The building really needs to be improved from an ADA standpoint, an accessibility standpoint. But also just kind of put a shine on the building. It's a lovely example of mid-century modern architecture and making sure that that is preserved into the future for people who want to enjoy it," said Stoddard.
The total cost of the project is expected to be about $1.5 million. About 80 percent of that will be covered by a $1.2 million federal transportation grant the city was awarded in 2013.
Stoddard said the building will continue to be used as a station for Amtrak and Burlington Northern will still have an office in the building. Amtrak recently invested about $1.5 million in the station to improve its boarding platform.
Over the years several versions of plans for the project have landed on the city commission agenda. Tuesday night the latest development plan, including 44 buildings with 842 dwelling units, and a 9 hole golf course, which could also be used for a new twist on the game called foot golf, sat on the agenda. Lawrence commissioners approved development plans for the project 5-0, but only after asking questions about a wooded area on located on the proposed development site that is considered environmentally sensitive.
"I guess there's a red bellied snake on this land. If in the future some of this land wanted to be developed, could it possibly be developed?" questioned Lawrence Commissioner Terry Riordan.
Commissioners weren't the only ones with concerns.
"Have they worked with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks on their plan?" questioned Senator Marci Francisco.
"We have addressed the state. The state's happy with it," answered a representative for Lindsey Management Co., Inc., the planning firm behind the project.
The developing company assured everyone that regulations would prevent any development on the environmentally sensitive land, unless approved by a future city commission. Company representatives also said ideally construction on the first phase of the project would begin in Spring 2016.
The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission also approved a plan for the project last month.
Jameelah Jones, a second year grad student at KU, attended the event.
"I think it's really important to be able to have a safe space for people to really come together and express how they're feeling without feeling judged and without feeling challenged in any type of way," she said.
Once the discussions began we weren't allowed inside with a camera, but were able to follow along on Twitter. Those in attendance used #FergusonKU to live tweet during the conversation.
Twitter user @JaneATuttle tweeted "Every day we make a decision to be engaged or to be a bystander. Be engaged in your community. Step Up!"
Twitter user @__tPARIS tweeted "Really, Really, Really GOOD things being said at the forum right now."
Jones also sent out a tweet, "What are the brave things we all can do? Have conversations with people who don't agree with you."
After the meeting Jones told us she is thankful for the university for hosting the discussion.
"Really taking steps to address issues of inequality, racial tension, and police brutality. I think it's really good for people to come together to discuss things like this," said Jones.
On Thursday, a vigil will be held for Michael Brown at St. Luke African Methodist Episcopal Church at 7:30 pm. All are invited to attend.
"This means that there are bike lanes, there are easy to walk on sidewalks. It means multimodal means of transportation, so pushing a stroller, a wheel chair, just walking down the street is easy. It means the street will be well lit. There'll be places to sit, places to put bikes. It will be the connector from the warehouse Arts District and far east 9th street to downtown Lawrence," said Susan Tate, CEO at the Lawrence Arts Center.
With those ideals, comes another focus for the project.
"It's a place where people live. There is a church on the 9th street corridor, there is an elementary school on the 9th street corridor, there are artist studios on the 9th street corridor, there are homes. It should retain its character, while supporting public art that's created as a part of the project and art in the future," said Tate.
Monday night city officials gathered, along with members of the Lawrence Arts Center, to discuss one of the beginning phases of the project, publication of an RFQ or Request for Qualifications. An RFQ would allow urban design teams and engineering firms to begin submitting their ideas for the project. However some at the meeting were concerned with moving forward on this early project piece. Some feeling left out of the process that is supposed to be community driven.
"Community involvement is going to be really important," said Eric Kirkendall, Director of Lawrence Creates Makerspace.
"People want more than input, we want to be full participants," said KT Walsh, with the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association.
"We just want to be a part of it you know, and everything," said Brenda Nunez, an East Lawrence Resident.
Project coordinators assure that community involvement remains a top priority.
"We're committed to a community driven process. It's extremely important that the Ninth Street Corridor retain its walkable, human scale, environment," said Tate.
Officials said they hope to release the RFQ by September 2, 2014. The Ninth Street Project is possible thanks to a $500,000 ArtPlace Grant, along with support from the City of Lawrence and the Lawrence Arts Center.
"It was recommended to me by my supervisor at the time as a good agency with solid leadership," said Lynette Good.
Lynette Good is a volunteer at GaDuGi SafeCenter. She is an advocate for victims of sexual violence.
"It's a way of showing that you care about people around you," said Good.
During the day, Good is a Secretary in the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General's office. Monday through Friday she commutes to the capitol for her job. But in the evenings, during her time away from work, she responds to the GaDuGi SafeCenter 24 hour hotline and is an advocate for victims sent to the hospital during sexual assault cases.
"We're there for them. We're supposed to be moral support," Good said. "It's really great knowing that that's comforting to them, that somebody is there and somebody cares. They really do appreciate it."
Good said knowing she is helping those who are truly in need is one of the reasons why even on her busiest of work days she's still prepared to advocate for victims of sexual assault.
"The first thing everyone asks is what's a busker? A busker is a street performer. It's an old English term," said Richard Renner, Producer of the Lawrence Busker Festival.
Artists of all shapes, sizes and kinds will run wild on the streets of Downtown Lawrence this weekend, a pretty phenomenal act in itself.
"There's a lot of cities that would not accept a bunch of street performers coming in and closing down the streets," said Renner.
"There are so few opportunities like this, where the streets themselves become a theatre. Busking is allowed in many different venues but sometimes people are expecting it and sometimes people even dislike the idea. But at a festival where people just know that they can just walk an two steps later they'll be in a show, it's so much fun," said Korso the Curious, a Lawrence Magician.
Like Korso the Curious said, at just about every corner downtown this weekend you'll find swords swallowers, fire breathers, jugglers, magicians and more. You might even see the impossible happen right before your very eyes.
For more information about the Lawrence Busker Festival, click here.
"Evan's a good guy. He's a great friend and we're happy to do it," said Wes Smith, a Partner at Stevens & Brand.
"It's just kind of amazing all of this support. It's really about ALS. It's really not about me. I'm just really happy because this whole bucket of ice water for ALS is just raising awareness and it's raising millions and millions of dollars around the country," said Evan Ice.
Ice has been battling ALS for the past two years.
"There's no cure. There's not really any drugs that slow the progression. Lou Gehrig had the same prognosis that I do. Nothing has changed since the 1940's," said Ice.
Thanks to the Ice Bucket Challenge that has gone viral on the internet and spread across the nation, that could change.
"It's a disease that there's not been a lot of money spent on because there's not been a lot of people who have been diagnosed with it every year," said Smith. It's been sort of revolutionary in the money that it's raised in the last few days since this challenge has been going on. You know I've heard people say that in their lifetime it's been the most awareness that's come to the disease," said Smith.
"You know very few things gain the viral momentum that this did. A lot of times there's close knit people and they get something that goes a little ways, but this has just spread across the entire country and it's just amazing," said Ice.