Lawrence was a lot of fun when I was growing up, and even as a twenty-something. We just needed to get out and slow our lives down, so we moved out to the stix and surrounded ourselves by water and rolling hills, haha!
Springfield is pretty-good sized. I still find it daunting to drive through, and I've had to do it several times in the last two months! There *is* an earthy, laid-back community there, though; a friend of mine told me about a natural foods store in Springfield. Maybe you could post a flyer there, seeking out other folks who might be interested in the same thing?
In the meantime, I'll get in touch with my friends - we're planning a trip to Grand Gulf State Park (not much of a trip for us, it's just outside of Thayer, about 2 hours south of you guys) to take our kids exploring. I have a 5 and 7 year old, and she has a 2, 5, and 6 year old. You'd be welcome to join us - I can PM you details as we figure them out - or, if not, I can bounce some ideas off of her and figure out how to make some sort of area-wide co-op thing happen, if there isn't one already. That'd probably be something else to look into! :)