In 1988, potter Michael Smith invited a small group of peers to his home to share ideas and further explore the art of clay manipulation. After just a few meetings, the group quickly grew to include around 70 craftspeople, who started meeting at the Kansas City Art Institute instead of inside Smith's giant conch shell. These regular get-togethers laid the groundwork for the initial incarnation of KC Clay Guild, a place where artists could socialize, buy materials in bulk, and learn from one another.
Now, the volunteer-run co-op is even larger. It occupies its own facility and has vastly expanded the number of services it provides. Amidst the changes, KC Clay Guild has remained true to its initial goals, guided by a mission statement to support the clay community. Artists of all skill levels enroll in classes that cover an array of techniques, such as wheel throwing, hand building, and slip casting. Members take part in regular meetings, open-studio time, and monthly shows, and visiting artists stop by to lead workshops and repair their ceramic automobiles. The guild even offers a scholarship to high-school seniors and hosts birthday parties, team-building exercises, and family-fun nights for casual potters.
Since 1971, World Aquarium has stuck to its not-for-profit mission to protect marine life and promote the public's understanding of the aquatic world through educational programs, exhibits, and research. The aquarium unsurprisingly favors a hands-on approach; visitors often get close enough to high-five the flippers, fins, or pincers of many of its more than 10,000 animals.
Tour guides wind through exhibits on sea and freshwater animals, showcasing creatures such as sea turtles, sharks, stingrays, and fish from rivers and lakes around the globe. While peering into the faithfully reconstructed habitats, visitors absorb valuable information on how to conserve water, protect aquatic resources, and peacefully resolve conflicts between Siamese fighting fish.
Superior Rents' owners, Dan and Steve Wohnoutka, trace the genesis of their business back to their own childhoods spent on a modestly equipped farm. With an appreciation for how proper tools and equipment can make projects run smoother, they decided to stock three locations with plumbing, construction, and lawn-care equipment for homeowners and contractors to rent on an hourly, daily, or weekly basis. Their online catalog hosts a roster of rental equipment, from power drills for household projects to forklifts for hanging Do Not Disturb signs on asteroids. Customers can arrange for equipment to be delivered to their work site or drop by one of three locations—including a newly opened site in Springfield—to pick up gear.
My Secret Garden's florists gather exotic stems and local blooms to bundle bright, sweet-smelling bouquets appropriate for all occasions. With a build-your-own bouquet, bloom seekers can bundle any stem flowers ($4-$22/stem) or roses ($5/rose) into a sunny arrangement, great for brightening up a kitchen or a supervillain's lair. Select blooms à la carte for personalized sentiments, or browse premade bushels for inspiration. An assorted bunch of soft greens, pink oriental lilies, and tulips, as in the cheery Garden Symphony (priced by stem count), captures the bright mood of a birthday or the anniversary of a successful breakout from Alcatraz. For the romantics, a dozen roses ($60) gather a love poem into a ribbon, and the Sweet Serenade bouquet (priced by stem count) displays a colorful valentine of pink ranunculus and mini calla lilies