BELONGING

Neighbor Spotlight: Juniya Bradford on How to Build Community

By

Alicia Briggs

– VOL. 16

For Juniya Bradford, a new mom and recent resident of Kansas City, she knew building a community would take some initiative.

In 2019, when Juniya was expecting her first child, she moved to Kansas City to be closer to her family. When Covid hit, Juniya was living with her mom, Celeste. They both continued working in offices when much of the world was in lockdown, searching for an open daycare while they were also navigating some health challenges. “It was crazy. This is the world we live in, but we adapt,” she recalls. 

By 2021, however, things began looking up. Juniya and Celeste were looking for a home better suited for their growing family, so her aunt suggested Mac Properties. In May, they moved in and joined Venn, along with her aunt. 

“We were fresh out of Covid. We were all stuck in the house and the only people we saw for several months,” she laughs. After seeing the Venn fliers around Mac’s Midtown buildings, they decided to check out an event. 

Image of Juniya Bradford Kansas City

Juniya and her daughter are regulars at Venn events like Saturday morning poolside yoga. Juniya says these neighbor connections and events help her thrive.

Right away, it made an impact on Juniya. “Everyone was really welcoming,” she remembers. “Someone pulled me aside and said, ‘I really enjoy the fact that you bring your daughter to everything.’ A lot of people think that your life kind of ends when you have a kid, but it’s like no, it’s just beginning.” 

It was her daughter that helped Juniya make her first friend at Venn. “My aunt introduced me to a neighbor in her building who also had a son around Jordan’s age,” She explains. “Our kids are three days apart and we’re a day and a year apart… I never would have met them if it wasn’t for the app.” 

Since Juniya joined Venn’s community in Kansas City her life has changed. She’s met lifelong friends and gotten to know the city better. She’s even starting a new job that she was connected to through the app. Having so many major life changes in a short amount of time–plus a pandemic–Juniya credits her neighborhood connections with helping her thrive. “Venn is a community to me,” she says. “I have a family here.”

Juniya is now a Building Leader for Venn. She loves sharing her experience to help new neighbors create a community that works for them. “It’s really what you make it. If you want to make the connection, just come to an event,” Juniya recommends attending at least four events. “That way you have a good feel for it. You’re going to find something that you like and pick it back up and pursue it.” 

For Juniyah, attending so many events motivated her to host a Silent Disco for neighbors at the Arcade. Planning this event was important for her because, as she describes, “I’m a new mom, so a lot of times when neighbors want to go out, if I don’t plan for it, I don’t have anyone to watch her.”  

Image of Juniya Bradford Kansas City

To host her first silent disco, Juniya worked with neighbors to identify a playlist, teamed up with family members to provide food, and leaned on neighborhood managers for logistics. 

Juniya contacted local silent disco companies and started calculating costs. When it came to deciding on the music, she reached out to the neighborhood. “Music choice will make or break a party, so I was asking everyone!” 

During the event, Juniya was touched by how the neighborhood showed up. Everyone brought drinks to share, her family brought food, and neighbors were eager to help set up. People were dancing and singing along. “Some people were like, ‘I came because I’d never been to a silent disco,’ and this is really nice, we gotta have another one!’” Juniya is now planning to host a second silent disco with a fellow neighbor. 

“For neighbors interested in starting their first event, I’d say just do it! We got a big team to support it. Even if you don’t think that your event is for everybody, I guarantee you there’s someone that the event is for. Just do it. Don’t be scared.” 

Since joining Venn, Juniya has found a way to build a community in Kansas City that works for her. “I don’t need to look outside of Venn for anything,” she says. “I just reach out to a neighbor.”