Thursday, May 01, 2008

Impacting change

Outside of our professional lives, we face many choices about the issues that are important enough to us that we want to become personally involved. We all filter them through some sort of internal screening process to set our own priorities. Yet, if we are to positively impact the situation, we must come up with an effective approach. How do you decide how to proceed? A few examples...

Your neighborhood has a problem property. You want something done about it. What's the best thing to do?

There are lots of historic buildings in your community, and you're concerned about preserving them. How should you proceed?

The school near your home needs better athletic fields, but they are landlocked. How can you help them get a "home field"?

A local nonprofit does important work, but the funding to continue their operation is at risk. What should you do?

Every day we encounter different challenges and opportunities, especially in active communities like St. Louis. There are tradeoffs, positives and negatives, and lots of different perspectives and competing priorities.

If you have a goal to see some certain outcome, what is the best way for a single person to make a real impact toward achieving the desired result?

Do you have a pet project you'd like to see happen? For some, the preservation of the San Luis Apartments has become an important issue. There is a plan to tear the building down and create a parking lot to serve the needs of the Arch Diocese. Some would rather see the building preserved. Competing priorities, different perspectives. A neighborhood priority? Maybe, maybe not.

A pet project of mine? One is the revamping of the connection between the Arch/Riverfront and downtown. I believe it's a major concern impacting our city/region and that we can do better. A lot better.

However, it's also one of those things where a single person doesn't carry much weight. So why should I get involved? The Arch connection to downtown involves a myriad of public agencies, lots of money, and many institutions and individuals. It's a complicated situation, but that makes it more interesting! It could take years.

The only way something will happen is for the community to come together around a feasible solution. We want to build a better community, but we also don't want to waste precious time. Perhaps the real challenge is to figure out how to pick your battles?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As far as the 5th and 19th wards are concerned, there is an active campaign called Develop with Dignity. It began with the demands for attention by City Hall to LRA and Paul Mckee's properties unattended vacant buildings, overgrown vacant lots, brick rustling etc.) and for Mayor Slay to address the concerns of the residents that felt as if their voices in this were never heard and their opinions were never solicited. It has grown to neighborhood outreach for those who still don't know what has happened and what is to come and a call for neighborhoods to work together for the common goal of respect of the residents demands for inclusion in the development plans. We have been working since last summer to organize the neighborhoods in these wards. It has been very difficult to get the word out. If anyone would like to volunteer their time to help us out, we would appreiciate it. Areas where volunteers are needed most are Old North St Louis and JVL but all are welcome. If you can lend a hand/s to compose correspondence or a foot or feet to hand out flyers e-mail us at or call 371-1190 (Sts Tersa and Bridget Church) to get further details. We look forward to hearing from you.

Sheila Rendon
Neighbors for Social Justice