What do you want Greenwood County to be like in 2050



An open letter …

We are a community in decline and a rebuilding mode after numerous natural and manmade disasters. We have an undervalued set of unique opportunities. What will be required is a radical transformation of the way we conduct business, starting at the County Commissioners down.  We can no longer just play defense, it is time to play offense. Millennials and retirees are flocking to the cities where they have certain cultural and financial opportunities. A small town is an urban environment set in a rural landscape. Given the complexities and expenses of a large city, we will find the small towns becoming more and more critical to maintaining a diverse and productive country. For Greenwood County, this will require a clear vision and the energy to overcome the resistance we will meet along the way. The vision has to be large enough to warrant the amount of investment and effort to stop a downward spiral.

We are not competing against other small towns, we are competing against all towns.


“Rural pleasures & the pursuit of an engaging life”

CONCEPT STUDY – Jamie Michel

The prairie fires of spring. A mural concept by the Eureka Studio.

It is not enough to predict the future, we have to create it.

A barn decorated with a mural inspired by Grant Wood’s painting, “American Gothic,” is seen in Mt. Vernon, Iowa. Artist Mark Benesh recreated the original which was painted by Grant Wood.


A storm is coming…Affecting the survival of small towns located throughout the Flint Hills. With a declining population and the effects of a lack of opportunity that incubates a culture that prohibits a healthy and vigorous community.

If you have no resources, you have no solutions … create resources. It is not about money it is about capital. It is not about change, it is about a transformation.“Two things are necessary to create transformation: A vision of the future state, and sufficient energy to overcome resistance and make the leap” Susanna and Puran Bair.

During his 2007 Harvard commencement address, Bill Gates called on the graduates to invent “a more creative capitalism” where “we can stretch the reach of market forces so that more people can make a profit, or at least make a living, serving people who are suffering from the worst inequities.

“The Rise of the Rural Creative Class. A growing body of research shows that innovative businesses are common in rural areas, and rural innovation gets a boost from the arts.”



There is always a core starting point. We refer to this as the District

“When a flower doesn’t bloom you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower”

”What is a startup community?

The entire community working in unison to make a great place for entrepreneurs! To do this you need several components.

Manufacturing capabilities that can produce any prototype. Available creative and adaptable space. City and county governments that are on board. A creative core including students, professionals, and advocates. A culture of business and business development. The ability to enjoy and appreciate the environment, cafes, coffee shops, entertainment. Financing and Capital Funds that finance infrastructure, business development, and culture.



basecamp: noun
an encampment temporarily providing supplies, shelter, and communications for starting an activity such as exploring, reconnaissance, or mountain climbing, (or a new Venture).


An accelerator mentality empowering local business to compete with big business and larger markets.

Concierge service with a strong online presence for innovative creatives, professionals and start-up companies. Work in an exciting environment with people with a similar mindset. The Studios include conference rooms, video laboratory, gallery space.

Launch parties, wine, and beer, in-house events to facilitate a strong team culture.

Front-desk service, utilities, refreshments, and more.

Experience Space
The nature of work is changing. Recruitment, retention, innovation, and productivity now require not just coffee, but also yoga, not just printers, but also art installations. We offer companies of all sizes the opportunity to re-imagine employees’ days through design, engaging community and strategic benefits for all. We will provide the culture, resources, an environment to connect people and ideas with the opportunity to grow your business.





In the summer of 2018, we had a category 4 tornado make a direct hit on the center of town. The year before we had a direct hit downtown in what was called a microburst (felt like a tornado). The year before that we had another category 4 direct hit on the town. We are in a rebuilding mode and an expansion effort in that Eureka, like many small towns in the region that are in decline. 

Project CAMPESTRAL | the Small Town Studio / Eureka Studio is studying a comprehensive systems approach to providing housing for diversified and evolving demographics. Success will be based on a pre-defined standard for regional housing that is site-specific and appropriate to the Flint Hills Region of Kansas. The solutions will require proposals to be suitable for housing other groups, like students, young professionals, and seniors. We find that we have an urgent need to provide a better solution to our local housing needs. We are dealing with opportunities to address the needs of people that want a different and perhaps a better solution to their hopes and dreams.




We are proposing a new regional architecture model designed with the sensibilities, environment, and opportunities that exist in the Flint Hills Region.

farmers market


A Modern Grange

is a market, café, and community gathering space designed to bring us closer to the way we grow, prepare, and share our food. Our modern Grange reflects the best of our local farming culture, delivering a seasonally curated selection of workshops, wares, and freshly prepared foods to our guests. Our mission is to celebrate and nurture the connection between good farming, good cooking, and good eating.
Learn, Share Knowledge, Cultivating Community.






The Beginning

In 2010 locals referred to Eureka Kansas as a “dying town”, not with anger or sadness, but with an eerie resolve.

It could be argued that Eureka was on a downward path for over a hundred years. In 2011, we met the Small Town Studio at Kansas State University, a group of graduate architects and their professor Todd Gabbard from the College of Architecture, Planning, and Design. They came for a visit and accepted the challenge of an in-depth study of our community. They brought with them a wealth of knowledge, unbridled enthusiasm, and unstoppable energy.

It was a unique opportunity for our community to see the intersection of architecture, community, and business. We started a conversation about possibilities and the process of architecture. That conversation continues three years later. The small town has always had a place and relevance in the culture of our nation. Now in this increasingly connected world, the small town is seeing a rebirth of interest and opportunity. The conversation has evolved from theory and process to real-world projects. It is now about the work and the finished product. The students are realizing that the process of architecture is becoming very personal.

It is hard to see the future, to determine the effects of this conversation. It is abundantly clear that the small town has a future and we have been reminded that we can dream.

The students that have come to Eureka over the years have gone on to new challenges throughout the country and are making their mark. I feel confident to say that they will remember their time in Eureka. We will remember them.

Larry Coleman

Afterword: Small Town Stewardship: Found Context, Built Solutions Small Town Studio | 2014-2015

The Vision

Our Mission Statement for Eureka:

  1. foster sustainable community growth, involvement, and education through planning and design;
  2. improve the overall health, social function and civic pride of the city by introducing public spaces;
  3. build a community vision, identity, and branding that citizens, visitors, and potential new residents can relate to and remember;
  4. repurpose and enhance the existing infrastructure in order to maintain the city’s historical identity and instill a new perspective on its future and its potential;
  5. introduce pedestrian-level connectivity throughout the city, including an improved sidewalk network and dedicated bicycle zones.

Small Town Studio 2013


We are a non-profit fund managed by the Emporia Foundation. Our goal is to work towards the economic and cultural development of the Flint Hills Region.

Bluestem ARTS Initiative Fund has been established to support cultural and educational programming that will benefit the creative community as an economic development generator. The Fund is registered with the Emporia Community Foundation, a 501c3 organization.

All contributions are tax-deductible.


Land Bank





We are developing a land bank to help the City build a startup community. They can provide incentives but the most powerful way forward is to engage, invest and promote a culture that entices people to want to live here. All economic development begins with people.

Land banks are not financial institutions. They are public or community-owned entities created for a single purpose: to acquire, manage, maintain, and repurpose vacant, abandoned, and foreclosed properties –the worst abandoned houses, forgotten buildings, and empty lots.

These properties are then sorted out for the best use and brought up to marketable standards and returned to the private sector. Some properties will be converted to parks and community assets. If a small town relies only on market conditions to prevail the result is an increasingly downward spiral. A small town has to compete and demonstrate an investment agenda in order for private investment to follow.





A Real Estate Investment Trust is a company that owns or finances income-producing real estate.

Modeled after mutual funds, REITs provide investors of all types of regular income streams, diversification and long-term capital appreciation. … In turn, shareholders pay the income taxes on those dividends.

The Experience Economy

Making Your Money Mean Something
Remember when investing was all about the financial returns? For a growing number of individuals and families, those days are long gone. Today’s investors increasingly want other kinds of returns as well. They want to travel with friends to faraway places, collect fine wines — and even own the winery. They want to scour galleries for the next up-and-coming artist or style. They want to take action to aid people or areas in need, spending a vacation helping to build a school in Africa, perhaps, rather than just lounging on a secluded beach.
Recent Studies Have Shown Interest Among Wealthy Individuals in Multiple Areas
40% consider themselves early adopters of technology
86% want to experience and learn new things
63% of financial advisors’ clients with an interest in art
42% of the total U.S. fitness-club market is made up of boutique gyms
Bottom line: Investors want to put their money into products and companies they admire, causes they care about and personal passions that bring them joy. An excerpt from a City Gold Commercial … it sounded good. If we invest locally, even better



Josh Goldstein

Fifth Year, Architecture Graduate Student
Kansas State University

Small Town Studio | 2013
Kansas State University
College of Architecture, Planning, and Design
Seaton Hall Studio
Manhattan, KS 66502


To help uncover the mystery of the Random School. The school is known to anybody that grew up here in Eureka. It is abandoned and nearing the stage where it will be torn down. It was inhabited by an artist for some time and the scale of the project makes it difficult to deal with. My friend Josh from the small town studio completed a study of possibilities that is an elegant solution. We are keeping this project alive and hoping for a solution. The school is desperately searching for it’s voice and I hope that it still has something to teach us all.


“Adapting a post-industrial relic to
create a unique recreational open
space for an underserved Eureka neighborhood.”








An example of a unique use of an abandon structure repurposed to instill a sence of history and a bold statement to accent a new neighborhood.


Web-based IT team working on web development and a video and technology lab. This website provides a news feed, information about the laboratories, people involved, etc. Provide marketing and promotional assistance.

An underlying theme that is found throughout our work over the past few years is connectivity.

The small towns are not inherently sustainable and shopping locally is not the answer, investing locally is the only way. The truth is that a small town is an urban environment set in a rural setting. What is true for a larger urban environment is usually true for a small town. It is incumbent upon us to join and compete in a larger regional market. We are not competing against other small towns we are competing against all towns. Studying the Small Towns in the context of an ever increasingly connected world is an irresistible design challenge.


Develop space for new creative places that will emerge as the region develops its creative core. This includes space for business development, educational institutions, studios, and live-work facilities. Help build a boutique industry in building, renovation and “locally grown foods”.


Throughout the Flint Hills, there are opportunities. Activate space is a program of the Eureka Studio & Partners. We seek out opportunities and propose various alternative solutions. 

The small towns of the Flint Hills are filled with underutilized and abandon buildings that were built for a specific purpose and they are elegant reminders of our past. There is a movement to re-purpose and to restore these buildings. We are finding new uses and the surprising thing is they are as elegant and useful as when they were first built.


“What if gentrification was about healing communities instead of displacing them?”
Liz Ogbu



It is about priorities …

the thing about priorities is that they are always obvious,

take a look around,

you will see.



EUREKA STUDIO | A Rural Community Design Center
Historic District
105 w Third Street
Eureka Kansas