Promoting Healing Through Design.

Kansas City’s nonprofits play a vital role in advocating for the social and economic well-being of the community’s most vulnerable residents. But what role does the built environment – the physical spaces occupied by nonprofits – play in aiding the missions of these organizations? And how can the design process help identify and support their long-term
goals and growth? You don’t have to look further than Brookside for the answer. With programming that covers a holistic continuum of care, The Children’s Place is a national leader in providing trauma-responsive care for children. Since its founding in 1978, the organization has supported the developmental and mental health needs of young survivors of abuse, neglect, and trauma.

In 2016, The Children’s Place hired HOK to explore its organizational goals and to develop criteria to select a potential new building that would allow its mission, staff, and children to flourish. Though the organization had grown substantially over nearly four decades, its space hadn’t grown with them. The first step in the design process didn’t involve sketches or floor plans. Instead, it focused on talking and dreaming. A visioning session included exercises that encouraged participants to identify the most important qualities for the space. Through this, the project objectives were illuminated: to create a welcoming, collaborative, and transformational environment where children and families feel safe, supported, valued, loved, healthy, and healed. “This was a truly collaborative and fun process,” said Ann Thomas, president and CEO of The Children’s Place. “For many of the children and families we serve, their lives have

been chaotic and unpredictable due to traumatic experiences. Having a space designed to meet their needs is a dream
– and what a difference an intentionally designed space makes to the staff, clients, and visitors.” Coupled with a deep dive into the organization’s’ goals and pain points, these exercises helped identify four primary goals that became part of the nonprofit’s new strategic vision document:
• Increase Visibility
• Provide Program Excellence
• Celebrate Culture
• Expand Services
These long-term priorities provided guiding principles that stakeholders used to weigh decisions against throughout the design process. During the visioning session, an adjacency activity allowed staff and board members to move potential spaces around like puzzle pieces, thinking strategically about programming. This simple exercise helped the design team prioritize specific adjacencies and new spaces. It also solidified that collaboration needs to be reinforced by the architecture. Classrooms, for example, were located directly next to the child and family therapy offices to increase collaboration among staff, clinicians, and teachers. View rooms with one-way mirrors were added to each classroom to enable therapists, teachers, and parents to observe a child’s behavior and strategize before they interact. Each classroom includes a direct connection to an outdoor learning space, and safety was prioritized with a separate bus drop-off entry for day treatment. Next, the design team conducted meetings with each user group. This informed both the practical square footage requirements and the overall aesthetic. Words like “welcoming,” “safe,” “inspired,” “healing,” and “hopeful” surfaced repeatedly in these conversations.

One consistent message across all user groups was the importance of the space feeling like a secure, healthy home for children who may not have had that experience. In response, each classroom includes a “front porch,” “living room,” “back porch,” and “backyard.” The “front porch” uses clear wayfinding strategies with simple colors and letters to help children of any age identify their home base. Inside the classroom, flexible zones for play and learning comprise the
“living room.” The “kitchen” includes a staff meal-prep area and child-height sinks to encourage autonomy. A small quiet zone inspired by the structure of a house is complete with a child-height window and door and gives children a place to decompress and compose themselves when feeling overwhelmed. The “back porch” surrounded by a wooden
fence creates a valuable outdoor learning environment. As with many homes, the backyard is a space for fun and activity. An expansive, private outdoor playground promotes dreaming, healing, and learning. And that signature bear
sculpture most Kansas Citians recognize from the Children’s Place’s former location on 59th Street? Although it didn’t
make the journey, the tradition is alive with a new bear outside the kids’ bus entry at the Rockhill Road location.
Since opening at the end of 2020, the nonprofit has been able to serve 30 percent more children and families. The interactive, user-centered design process helped ensure the creation of comforting space for vulnerable children.
“To have a light-filled, soothing space with child-friendly colors and an intentional layout created a calm, predictable,
and safe space,” said Thomas. “It’s the very kind of environment a child needs to experience to heal.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Erin Nybo is an interiors practice leader at HOK, leading the design and delivery of
innovative, patient-centric healthcare facilities for the firm’s Kansas City studio. She
is active with IIDA Mid-America, Kansas City Sports Commission and Kansas City Area
Healthcare Engineers.

Kansas City Seen As Creative City of Music

Locals may know the significant contribution that Kansas City made in the development of blues and jazz, but thanks to two activists who worked toward its recognition as a United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization
(UNESCO) City of Music that history and culture is center stage across the globe. Jake Wagner, Ph.D., associate professor of Urban Planning and Design at UMKC, began exploring the designation process in 2016 as part of a project with his students. “We were interested in how we could get students engaged,” Wagner says. “I had gotten my Ph.D. at the University of New Orleans. I was surveying the neighborhoods and went to see [jazz pianist] Jelly Roll Morton’s house. The whole neighborhood is a historic neighborhood. New Orleans is so good at celebrating their history of jazz.” When Wagner began teaching planning and historic preservation in Kansas City, he researched where the great jazz musicians had lived. “I went to find [saxophonist] Ben Webster’s house. He was born and raised in Kansas City. The whole neighborhood had been demolished.”

Wagner, based on his experience in New Orleans, thought Kansas City could do a better job promoting and preserving its musical heritage. In 2016 he teamed up with Anita Dixon to develop an urban planning studio to explore the process of having the Mutual Musicians Foundation, as the birthplace of jazz in Kansas City, become a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Mutual Musicians Foundation was formerly known as Musicians Local No. 627, which was established in 1917. During segregation, Musicians Local No. 627 was located at 18th & Highland Avenue, a thriving community of Black residents.

In the process of the research, Dixon and Wagner discovered the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) and the
opportunity to join as the first UNESCO City of Music in the United States. The UCCN promotes international cooperation among cities that have identified creative solutions for sustainable urban development. There are a total 246 designated cities in seven categories – crafts and folk art, design, film, gastronomy, literature, media arts, and music. Forty-seven cities in 36 countries are recognized for music. Kansas City is the only UNESCO Creative City of Music in the United States. Following the studio project, Anita Dixon, who was executive director of the Mutual Musicians Foundation at the time, began the application process. Wagner and Dixon agreed that the UNESCO designation as a City of Music would elevate Kansas City’s cultural capital and its perception.

“We didn’t want to talk about problems,” Wagner said. “We wanted to explore the idea of opportunities through culture. We are not investing in the historic neighborhoods that put Kansas City on the map. People come for the excitement about a place – a connection between past and future. Kansas City can market that as no one else has with food, heritage, and our musical history.” The application deadline was June 2017. Dixon and Wagner knew that support from the mayor’s office would be critical to the success of the application. She began working with Kim
Randolph, chief of staff at Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wagner’s office, who was instrumental in driving the application process. While they discussed postponing submitting the application until the next submission date, which would not have been for another two years, Dixon did not want to wait. “It had to be written and translated into two languages,
but we made it happen. We were 26 days from the deadline, but I said, ‘I’m going to do it.’ We made the case and
it won. We were the only music site in the United States selected that year.” Dixon says the city’s history itself was key to the application’s success.

“We have the cultural capital,” she says. “The city itself had done the work. It was just a matter of putting it on paper.”
Wagner adds that Kansas City also has the track record on sustainable urban development and climate action – we
just need to use creative approaches to make these processes
more equitable and inclusive.

Dixon sees the designation as critical to not only connecting to other countries and other cultures, but as a resource for musicians in Kansas City.

“We’ve been to eight countries. We are initiating meetings about cryptocurrency for artists in the Midwest. Copenhagen will be throwing a huge party with all Kansas City music and barbecue. They want people to be able to sample all the different Kansas City sauces. We have what the world wants.” She notes that the world is moving so fast and cultural capital will become more critical. “Language will no longer be a barrier as digital translation becomes easier and easier. Cryptocurrency will change the way we handle fees and payment. There’s a huge demand for masterclasses. This gives creators the opportunity to own their own works and gives them tools to make more money.”
Dixon wants to see 18th and Vine as vibrant as it was in its heyday. “I was the main speaker at a theatre in Copenhagen
that sold out two showings of YouTube videos of old jazz. They had me sign autographs. We can turn Kansas City
back into a place that people want to go. Our cultural capital is the key to entrepreneurship and sustainable economic development through creative industries.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Patricia O’Dell started the lifestyle blog “Mrs. Blandings” in 2007. Her curiosity led her to write about designers, artists, business owners, and industry leaders. She’s been published in Architectural Digest, Elle Decor, Chicago Tribune, Flower magazine, Kansas City Spaces,
and The Kansas City Star, as well as archdigest.com and elledecor.com.

Serve & Protect.

Providing quality service and protection for your Mercedes-Benz is a hallmark of our business here at Mercedes-Benz of Kansas City.

We offer an array of service and protection plans that will provide the necessary maintenance of your vehicle and the desired peace of mind of knowing your Mercedes-Benz will maintain its performance and value for years to come.

From extended warranties to lease protection to pre-paid maintenance packages to exterior protection plans we offer many ways to protect and service your Mercedes-Benz. What do they each provide? Well, let’s break it down.

Extended Warranties

By purchasing an extended warranty, new car owners can add years and mileage to the life of their vehicles, so that coverage is extended. These extended options can be customized based on driving habits, personal preference, and the length of time you plan on owning your vehicle or vehicles.

Lease Protection

With lease protection, new lessees receive coverage at lease end for some chargeable items that go beyond normal wear and use (such as minor dents, scratches, and certain damages). Lease protection can protect lessees from an unexpected bill after turning in a vehicle at the end of a lease term.

GAP Insurance (Guaranteed Auto Protection)

Sometimes, the worst can happen in the most unexpected circumstances. In the event that your vehicle is totaled in an accident, GAP insurance pays the difference between the actual cash value of the car (what your insurance carrier will pay) and the balance owed on the auto loan. This ensures that you will never owe money on a car that has been totaled.

Paint and Interior Protection Package

Our high-value “Touch of Class” protection package helps preserve the brand-new appearance of a vehicle using an interior and exterior treatment that works to prevent blemishes and stains. Five reapplications of the protectant are included in the back, each with a full vehicle detail. There’s a reason this is one of our most popular options

Pre-Paid Maintenance

Customers can receive bulk discounts on service and take the hassle out of maintenance with pre-paid vehicle maintenance available at the time of vehicle purchase. This allows customers to pay for vehicle maintenance up front. It can be financed with the overall price of the vehicle, which locks in costs and eliminates future out-of-pocket payments.

Wheel + Tire Protection

Modern alloy wheels are easy to damage and costly to fix. Customers can limit their expenses by investing in our Wheel + Tire Protection package that covers the repair of damages.

Windshield Protection

Windshields are expensive, vulnerable and are usually not covered by insurance. Windshield protection will replace your windshield in the event it is damaged by a road hazard.

Paintless Dent Repair

A vehicle can get a lot of scuffs when parked in a busy parking lot. With our paintless dent removal package you can bring your car in as many times as you like to remove small dings and dents.

We try to make service a smooth process here by offering the ability to schedule service online. We will also pick-up and deliver your vehicle to you. During this current CoVid crisis we are adhering to all state and local mandates for safety.

Our Customers Have Spoken.

To be awarded Top-Dealer by both CarGurus and CarFax is truly an honor. In order to be selected for this award our dealership had to receive a minimum yearly average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on the CarGurus platform and 4.6 out of 5 stars on the CarFax site. Each site collects customer reviews and catalogues the responses for a yearly average that determines which dealerships around the country receive this award.

“CARFAX has more than 2.2 million verified customer ratings and reviews for dealerships around the country,” said Bill Eager, CARFAX Vice President of Dealer Business. “The Top-Rated Dealer program recognizes the best of the best for exceptional service and customer care.”

“We are thrilled to recognize Mercedes-Benz of Kansas City as a 2021 Top Rated Dealer,” said Sam Zales, President and COO at CarGurus. “CarGurus is known as the leader for trust and transparency in car shopping, and we are proud to honor all of the dealerships that reflect the same values. The Top Rated Dealer program gives dealerships like Mercedes-Benz of Kansas City the opportunity to showcase their customer service excellence, and we applaud their high standards.”

Our commitment to customer service and a luxury experience has provided us an amazing opportunity to deliver a level of service to the Kansas City Mercedes-Benz market that is unparalleled. We believe in delivering above and beyond what our customers expect while maintaining a selection of inventory that is difficult to rival. We couldn’t be prouder of both of these awards and look forward to earning the trust and business of many more current and future Mercedes-Benz owners here in Kansas City.

The Mercedes of Luxury Midsize SUVs

Benchmarks can’t be benched.

That’s the mantra that keeps the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC SUV at the forefront of the luxury SUV game. When you test drive the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC SUV, you’ll know exactly why it has earned rank as the brand’s most popular SUV model. 

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC SUV is available in three different versions, and those are the Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 SUV, the Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 4MATIC® SUV, and the Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e 4MATIC® SUV. What you get will weigh on your choice, but all versions of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC SUV are certain to demonstrate sporty proportions, refined performance, and cutting-edge technology. 

The Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 SUV and GLC 300 4MATIC® SUV are powered by 2.0L inline-4 turbo engine rated for 255 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. The Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e 4MATIC® plug-in hybrid SUV combines that same 2.0L I4 turbo engine with a 90kW electric motor that scores a combined rating of 315 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. That GLC 350e features brisk acceleration, launching from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.6 seconds.  

The cabin of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC SUV is your own personal cockpit with the 10.25-inch central touchscreen, a reconfigurable 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster display, and an intelligent voice assistant system that recognizes and responds to conversational commands. Past a diverse range of upholstery and trim level options, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC SUV features an available 64-color LED ambient lighting system, Burmester® surround sound, and a suite of driver assists designed to bring you confidence behind the wheel.  

New this year, PARKTRONIC with Active Parking Assist and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert is now standard on all models. For more information on the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC SUV in Kansas City, we invite you to reach out to the team here at Mercedes-Benz of Kansas City and schedule a test drive.

Mercedes-Benz AMG® Vehicles

When it comes to high-value luxury vehicles, any Mercedes-Benz model can deliver premium comfort, quality, and features. However, for luxury drivers who also want the height in performance, there is a subset of the Mercedes-Benz family that can offer all that and more: Mercedes-Benz AMG®. What is Mercedes-Benz AMG®? Each of these models represents the height of their specific vehicle range. Whether shoppers prefer the AMG® E 43 midsize sedan, or the compact AMG® GLC 43, Mercedes-Benz AMG® vehicles in Kansas City MO can burn up the road or the track and offer top comfort at the same time.

What is the difference between a high-quality Mercedes-Benz vehicles or an elite Mercedes-Benz AMG®? While a Mercedes-Benz AMG® model may have unique features, like a sport-tuned suspension or interior design accents, one of the biggest differences is in the engine and output. In many cases, a Mercedes-Benz AMG® model will offer more than 100 horsepower than a base model. Select Mercedes-Benz AMG® models also come with premium, handmade engines that are designed to truly deliver an elite and unstoppable experience. Mercedes-Benz of Kansas City offers both Mercedes-Benz and Mercedes-Benz AMG® vehicles

What Mercedes-Benz AMG® Engines Are Handmade?

There are six available engine options in the Mercedes-Benz AMG® vehicle lineup. Five of those six are each assembled by hand by a single AMG® engineer. This allows these vehicles to offer not just premium performance but truly be works of art. The AMG® 4.0-liter biturbo V8, 5.5-liter biturbo V8, and 6.0-liter biturbo V12 are all handmade. Vehicles with these elite engines are designated with either a “63” or a “65”. Available on the Mercedes-Benz AMG® CLA 45 and GLA 45 is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that is also handmade.

The 3.0-liter V6 biturbo engine in the Mercedes-Benz AMG® E 43, GLE 43, SLC 43, C 43, GLC 43, and GLE 63 offers elite performance, but is not constructed by hand by a single engineer.

If you are interested in learning more about Mercedes-Benz AMG® vehicles in Kansas City MO, contact a member of the Mercedes-Benz of Kansas City sales team or click here to schedule a test drive.

UNPLUG: For Your Health.

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you” – Anne Lamont

One possible answer to so many questions
might be found in this quote from author
Anne Lamont: “Almost everything will work
again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including
you.” My best translation is – take
your time, pause, stop, and step back. And
consider repeating that same action several
times a day.
Regardless of your life, work, and family circumstances,
we are all in challenging times,
and, at the moment, the majority of us are at
least mildly “stir crazy.” And, there are more
difficult decisions ahead. We have jobs to do,
families to care for, community responsibilities,
and challenges from all sides of government,
including the outcome of the elections;
and, at the same time, we are challenged
with the necessity to make wise choices,
manage self- care, and to find ways to maintain
connections with the people we love.
In the midst of sorting things out and establishing
priorities and best practices, there is an
abundance of both scientific health necessities
and psychological “must dos.” Too much information
can create the perfect storm for frustration.
Reinforcing that concern, a client recently
shared that a daily link on her phone – IDEAS
FOR SELF-CARE – had become more annoying
than helpful. Consequently, my suggestion: If
you are annoyed by the do’s and don’ts for getting
through this quite-taxing, anxiety-provoking
pandemic and the demands and changes
dictated for staying healthy – and, I must add,
alive – it’s simply time to acknowledge that too
many self-care instructions/suggestions/dictates
– including this one – are putting many
on overload. And, in spite of that reality, paying
attention is essential, because the situation we
face in our states and in the country is with us
for a longer haul than we might want.

Regardless of your personal approach to the challenges, my suggestion is to “unplug”, step back, reflect, and focus.

As holidays approach, the best thing for many, especially
the extroverts among us, would be a big or even
small event – plans for holiday and family celebrations
and special occasions … football games and other sporting
events. Most people are anxious to talk, and celebrate,
and hug people we love and like. Regardless,
those historic, typical, traditional things we have been
accustomed to embrace aren’t the best things to actually
DO without unprecedented precautions.
If you DO pay attention to science and trustworthy
news, and I deeply hope you do, you already know that
recommendations for holidays are to avoid gatherings if
you don’t know precisely where people have been and
who they have interacted with – including your families.
Acknowledging there’s a growing and fairly natural resistance
to such precautions, I still struggle when I read the
governor of New York had to shut down a 10,000-person
wedding. That plan, at least to me, is a bit “off the page,”
even for those of us who might be high risk takers or perhaps
feel “science” is hard to manage, even believe.
Regardless of your personal approach to the challenges,
my suggestion is to “unplug,” step back, reflect, and
focus. Take the pressure off for the things you think you
should be doing and focus on the basics of health and
self-care even when they feel more restrictive than you
want. And give yourself credit if you believe you’ve done
a quite good job managing a truckload of restrictive
time already. The winter months will be more challenging,
and as long as we trust science, it’s possible to dial
back, find simple efforts at self-care, and manage the
restrictions necessary for health and well-being.
Science tells us the basics: wear a mask, social distance,
and wash your hands. Psychology is telling us countless
things to do – often far too many to sort through. Consequently,
my suggestions are to address the areas of your
life where you feel pressure, and then prioritize your own
self-care in balance with the efforts you make to show up
for those you live with and work with daily.
The point of what to do is to focus on just one thing at
a time. Once you feel the one thing is helping, move on
to an additional effort. Just don’t try too many things
at once. If you take all the advice from what you read,
including articles like this one, you will likely bog down.
And as you try just one thing at a time, include the simple
task of “unplugging” several times a day – step back and
stare out the window, maybe step outside for a few minutes,
even if it’s not ideal weather. Clear your head. And,
as you unplug, try this breathing technique: Breathe in to
a count of four; hold your breath to a count of seven; and
exhale through your mouth, slowly, to a count of eight.
Repeat this exercise four times.
Finally, acknowledge that if we are to get through this
challenging season and still enjoy our families, friends,
and holidays, we have to have a plan. It needs to be simple,
basic, easy to act on, and it needs to acknowledge
that we are in a challenging health crisis that demands
the best from all of us.
And as always, reach out if you need to talk.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Linda Moore has been in practice in the Kansas City area for over 25 years and is a
published author on personal and family issues.

The Enduring Power of Art and How It Helps Us Move Forward in Challenging Times

The phrase “man of the world” could have been coined with Julián Zugazagoitia in mind. He was born in Mexico City into a family steeped in history, creativity, and culture. He has lived in Paris, Rome, and New York. Since 2010, when he was named director of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Julián Zugazagoitia has called Kansas City his home.

What is it about Kansas City that has made it feel so much like home for you?

The most beautiful surprise that this city has given me is to have the murals at UMKC by Spanish painter Luis Quintanilla. He was exiled because of the Spanish civil war and he ends up in Kansas City painting some murals. He dedicated them to my grandfather. [Julián’s grandfather fought the Fascists in Spain of the 1930s. He was eventually captured by the Gestapo and executed.] Those murals make me feel that this is really home.

Does your family’s amazing history impact you and what you do, on a daily basis?

It’s different moments of consciousness in which you start realizing the complexity of your own identity. Growing up in Mexico City there were not a lot of questions, but I left for the UK for the first time when I was 12 and that was the first big shock. It was the beginning of my understanding that we’re all immigrants all the time. Identity is such a complex thing.

As we speak, the museum is closed due to COVID-19, and the world is also seeing protests demanding equal treatment and opportunity for all people. What does a place like the Nelson-Atkins mean in times like these?

When society and humankind come to moments that really challenge us, humankind needs to express itself. Art has found ways to tackle even these things. We have had pandemics in the past. Our collections have examples of artists creating art during very difficult moments. What I see is art that goes beyond the forms we normally celebrate. New generations expressing so much through social media and digital form. People can connect with us in the digital world.

The inside part of the museum is closed but people can still come and enjoy the landscaping and the sculptures. I trust that just being in the environment, in front of the art, is inspiring.

Some may look at places like the Nelson-Atkins and think, ‘Well, that isn’t really for me because of my socio-economic status or education or skin color.’

I know you and your staff work hard to make this a place for everyone.

We have made a lot of efforts to be a place of openness, of inclusivity, of making sure that everyone feels ownership of the museum’s legacy. Today’s events call for more effort.  I would say from the moment we opened this building in 1933, the first speech at that time said this place is for all groups, all races, all creeds. This is work that has to be done by society at large and work that we have to do together. We have a wonderful and wide diversity of people enjoying the museum and that is something we need to continue to foster.

We are using this time to look at ourselves as staff, look at our history as an institution, to reassess our collections, how collections have come to be. We need to be more cognizant, more attuned to our times. We also need to understand that we are part of a stream of history, knowing others have also faced times like these. Society today is waking up to many things. The younger generations are making us more aware of where we should be going.

In these uncertain, unsteady, unchartered times, should we look to art and places like the Nelson-Atkins as some sort of constant?

The nature of expression is always going to be there and museums like ours provide the ability to travel, not only the geographies of distant cultures but also in time. To see how time and different cultures and different civilizations and different ways of thinking are represented through art. A museum like ours can teach you that there’s hundreds of ways of thinking. That should give us a sense of awe. A museum like ours gives you a variety of possibilities. You see that humanity has so many ways of expressing and being. We can engage in dialogues that enrich and enlarge our perceptions and make us have more points of view than one.

Article taken from Fall 2020 edition of Today Kansas City Magazine, a publication of Soave Automotive Group. Interview by Joel Nichols.

The Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 4MATIC®

A compact SUV with innovative technology

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 crossover utility vehicle sits smack in between the company’s GLA and GLC, which is a pretty nice place to be because it offers the room of a larger vehicle with the maneuverability of a smaller one, and it does so at an affordable price. The GLB appears to be aimed directly at young families who want a spacious cabin, good fuel economy, a small third-seat option, and Mercedes-Benz styling.

The GLB’s 111.4-inch wheelbase is 5.1 inches longer than the GLA and only 1.7 inches shorter than that of the GLC. The long wheelbase not only contributes to a smooth ride but it accounts for 38 inches of back-seat legroom. The somewhat boxy exterior features an upright front section with short front and rear overhangs. The practical design allows 41 inches of headroom in the front seat, and a low step-in height makes getting in easy for youngsters or adults with their arms full of groceries.

Surprisingly, the GLB has a base price of $36,600 for two-wheel drive and $38,600 for 4MATIC® all-wheel drive. The base price swells with popular options, and the model I drove had a sticker price of $50,150. Competitors include the BMW X1 and Volvo XC40, among others.

Powering the GLB is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that has been completely updated to deliver sprightly acceleration and fuel economy that is rated at 23 miles per gallon in the city and 31 on the highway. This aluminum engine has cast-iron cylinder liners, four valves per cylinder and variable cam timing. It is paired with an eight-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission that seems to be in the right gear at the right time whenever you need some extra punch for passing or changing lanes. One reason the engine feels so lively is because the GLB’s curb weight is a comparatively svelte 3,638 pounds.

The two-wheel-drive version sends power to the front wheels, while the 4MATIC® permanent all-wheel-drive system with variable torque distribution sends 80 percent of the power to the front wheels and 20 percent to the rear in “Eco/Comfort” driving mode. In Sport mode that shifts to 70 percent front and 30 percent rear. The Dynamic Select switch lets the driver choose Sport, Eco/Comfort, and Individual settings to control all-wheel drive although the system reacts intelligently to the current driving situation in any mode. In off-road mode, the all-wheel-drive clutch acts as an inter-axle differential lock, and power distribution is balanced 50:50 front to rear. An Off-Road Engineering Package further enhances the GLB’s off-road capabilities, because it adapts the engine’s power delivery and the ABS control to tackle off- road terrain away from paved roads.

For a vehicle aimed at young families, the cabin is of prime importance, not only in terms of comfort but also in terms of convenience. The split-folding rear seat, for example, can be moved closer to the front seat, making it easier for the front-seat passenger to reach a toddler in a child safety seat or to increase the rear cargo area. The sliding rear seat also improves access to the optional third seat, admittedly best suited for youngsters. The large tailgate opens to reveal a sizable cargo space (62 cubic feet with the seats folded).

The GLB has ISOFIX and TOP-Tether anchorages for child seats, and these can be used to attach up to four child seats in the rear. The third row includes two drink holders between the seats as well as two stowage compartments with a rubberized insert, each with a USB-C port. The third seat folds flush with the load compartment floor.

The Mercedes-Benz instrument panel now consists of two screens, one for a digital instrument cluster and one as a touchscreen for operating various vehicle functions such as audio, navigation, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The test car was equipped with the premium package that includes two larger 10.25-inch screens that sweep across the instrument panel like a large computer tablet. The gauge display can be changed in several ways, and many vehicle functions can be controlled by voice. “Hi, Mercedes” is all you need to say to get access to many functions. While the test car was not equipped with its own navigation system, I could connect my phone with Apple CarPlay and use my voice to get directions, play music, etc. Navigation with augmented video and speed limit assist adds an additional $1,150.

The GLB also offers optional driving assistance systems with functions adopted from the benchmark S-Class. Using this technology, the GLB is able to drive semi-autonomously in certain situations. To do so, it keeps a close eye on the traffic with camera and radar systems that allow it to see up to 1,640 feet ahead. The GLB also uses map and navigation data to support assistance functions. The driver assistance package of adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, evasive-steering assist, active-brake assist with cross-traffic function, emergency stop assist, lane-change assist, and active-steering assist adds $2,250.

Mercedes-Benz says that one in three of its vehicles sold worldwide is an SUV, and one in four a compact model. Thus, the GLB is poised to tackle an energized SUV market with a compact size, innovative technology, and everyday usability. For the opportunity to purchase one today, check out our Express Store.

Just the facts….

Engine: 2.0-liter, 221-horsepower four-cylinder

Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch automatic

4MATIC® all-wheel drive

Wheelbase: 111.4 inches

Curb weight: 3,638 pounds

Base price: $38,600

As driven: $50,150

MPG rating: 23 in the city, 31 on the highway

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER
Tom Strongman has a degree in photojournalism from the University of Missouri and was
formerly the director of photography and then the automotive editor of The Kansas City
Star. Tom, a member of the Missouri Press Association Photojournalism Hall of Fame, has
written about and photographed cars for more than three decades.

Bringing Dust to Life

by PATRICIA O’DELL | photos by ANNA PETROW

Chentell Shannon is creating a company and a culture that celebrates community.

It’s possible that Chentell Shannon shouts, but it’s difficult to believe that she would. She’s built Convivial Productions – a company that creates collections of handmade wares for the home, table, and garden – over the last five years with a quiet, steady hand. While she does not pretend to know all the answers of what happens next, she is conscious and careful with her life and her company as she considers what is best using her own definition of success.

While Shannon is passionate about what she does and how she does it, she was not envisioning her future as she made clay pots in kindergarten. Her interest in pottery came much later.

“My older sister is two years ahead of me,” Shannon says. “I was the
quintessential younger sister. I thought she was so cool. I wanted to be just like her.”

Shannon’s sister had enrolled in a ceramics class in high school, so she enrolled in a ceramic class in high school.

“Then, independently, I really started loving it. I took ceramics class-
es every semester that I could. Then I started doing independent study with my professor and learned wheel throwing and hand building.”

She discovered she has a visceral experience working with her hands.

“I think your mind goes into a different state,” Shannon says. “For me it’s therapeutic. It’s a release.”


She followed the same path in college, taking pottery classes and doing independent study. Her senior year, she found that she wanted to share the process and started looking for ways to introduce other people to the craft.

“Art therapy was the path that classified as a career in the arts. Even though I wasn’t really interested in the clinical aspects of art, it was the thing I thought I could make a career out of.”

But the reality of art therapy wasn’t the same as creating. She studied community art, which felt more organic. But after graduation, she became more and more interested in designing, creating, and selling her work. She trusted that all the components of the things that she had learned would come into play and become a career.

“It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately,” she says. “We’re five years in. The first year was just me, then some interns, then part-time people. I think we were in five spaces before here.”

“Here” being the light-flooded space on the fourth floor of one of the old brick buildings in the West Bottoms that accommodates Convivial’s growing team. Shannon said this last move felt significant.

“When we moved here two years ago it felt like we jumped from being an individual studio to an actual company. There was consistency and culture.”

Convivial recently took over the full floor and has committed to the space for three years. Shannon says that the growth and expansion raise questions about who and what Convivial should be.

“I want to be really intentional with our growth. What will our products be like? What will the studio be like? What will our culture be like?”

She’s discerning about expanding the product line and how they will move forward as a company. This conscious movement drives decisions in every aspect of the business, including a recent opportunity to paint a mural on the side of the building.

“We had the opportunity to do the mural and we considered putting our name on it,” Shannon says. “But it’s not our building, so we reconsidered. Recognizing the neighborhood seemed like the right thing to do.”

The mural, which Shannon’s team designed and painted with the help of community volunteers, reads, “Welcome to the Historic West Bottoms.” This result is part of a broader philosophy.


“Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about how owning a business is an opportunity. We can either work within the outline of standard business practices or be creative in how we approach growing and sustaining as a business.”

Shannon thinks this applies to where they invest, how they approach sales, as well as their motivation. This thinking is the root of Convivial’s creative, alternative, community-based marketing approaches, such as collaborating on murals, events, and dinners.

“I want to be creative with how we approach partnership and marketing,” she says. “We’re exploring putting those resources toward investing in the culture of our community and the architecture of our city, determining if this works as a more holistic approach for our staff, community, and customers.”


While she moves thoughtfully, Shannon and her team want Convivial to create more pieces, more lines, and, perhaps more importantly, more jobs. But they are careful about growth.

“What we do is not trend based. That’s why we don’t do limited editions. We are being intentional about things that last. We want our customers to know that if they buy dinnerware from us, they will always be able to get it.”

The company is currently exploring creating new concepts. Verdant, a plant and flower shop in the Crossroads that carries planters and candles, is planned for the spring.

Shannon sees Convivial as the parent company, while responding to smart opportunities along the way.

“I would rather keep being creative. This could lead to more variety, which could bring more chaos – or more success. We want to keep things fresh. The questions that I will always come back to is, ‘What will I be proud of?’”