Monday, April 30, 2012

Green Machine

This time of year, the garden grows. Fast. Based on the filling up of garden pales and rain gauges, lately we've been getting 2-3 inches of rain per week. A mild winter, coupled with all that rain, has put the green machine into high gear.

The only way I can keep up is to work a little bit each weekend, section by section. Or, to keep things interesting, work a little bit in different sections, twenty minutes or so at a time. Still the green machine keeps ahead.

This weekend, I did a little of both. Cutting back sucker branches on trees in the high reaches, and working at ground level in the alley. In the alley, there's a stone terraced garden, home to daylilies, and an invasion of wild onions.

You never know who might drop by when you're working in the garden. All that digging up of wild onions attracted a new friend. He was following where I was digging, looking for his breakfast. We worked side by side for about twenty minutes until we both moved on to other things (him winging away to a telephone wire and me a glass of ice water waiting in the kitchen). Here's a picture of my garden friend, finishing his breakfast.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Open for Business: The St. Louis Chamber of Commerce?

The St. Louis Business Journal just released its 2012 list of the region's top 25 chambers of commerce. Nowhere on the list will you find the City of St. Louis. Why? Because there is no such thing as the "St. Louis Chamber of Commerce".

Chambers of Commerce serve as business associations for area businesses. They are by and large membership organizations, with businesses making up the membership. Businesses pay dues to join, and the chamber provides services to member businesses.

A standard mission statement of a chamber of commerce often reads, "The Mission of the ____ Chamber of Commerce, in close association with the City of ______, is dedicated to developing a strong network for potential and existing local business to prosper and thrive in our community".

Another example is, "The Greater _____ Chamber of Commerce is a trusted business organization working for the development and voice of business success in ______. We provide opportunities for all businesses and individuals who invest in the _______community. Our goal is to keep ______ a healthy, thriving community with an exceptional quality of life. We invite you to join us today and help build a sound foundation to support the economic momentum in ______!"

So why doesn't St. Louis have its own chamber of commerce? One reason is that there are already a number of smaller business associations serving neighborhood business districts. There is the South Broadway Business Association serving the Carondelet area, the Hampton Chippewa Business Association serving the Hampton Village, Southwest City area. In Baden, there was a Businessmen's Association formed in 1913.

A chamber of commerce builds sense of community. It creates a sense of shared purpose and interest among community stakeholders. If St. Louis had a city-wide chamber of commerce, connections would be made across neighborhood, ward, and bigger city boundaries.

In the past, people may have believed that the most important thing to them was to have a healthy neighborhood business district where they lived. They weren't too concerned about what was happening in another neighborhood or the other side of town.

With efforts on today to build a more sustainable city, does it make sense to establish a citywide chamber of commerce for the entire city of St. Louis? It might go to number one on the St. Louis Business Journal's list of the region's Top 25 Chambers of Commerce!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

City of St. Louis Sustainability Summit Meetings: May 8-12

The second round of community meetings for sustainability planning for the City of St. Louis has been set. More info is available by visiting this page:

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lid Study Officially Underway

Today at 3:00 pm, MoDOT will hold a public hearing regarding the proposed lid over the depressed lanes in downtown St. Louis, now referred to as the "Park over the the Highway". Here is the official MoDOT announcment:

MoDOT St. Louis District Press Releases Page

Prepared by Andrew Gates 314/453-1808

April 02, 2012

MoDOT to hold public meeting on Park over the Highway alternatives

ST. LOUIS - The Missouri Department of Transportation will hold an open-house style public meeting to allow the public to discuss MoDOT's portion of the CityArchRiver 2015 project.

The public meeting is scheduled April 10, between 3 and 5 p.m. in the St. Louis City Hall Board of Aldermen boardroom (on the second floor), 1200 Market Street, St. Louis, Missouri, 63103.

During the meeting, MoDOT engineers will be on hand to discuss several proposed alternatives for the Park over the Highway portion of the CAR2015 project, to include what the department believes is the preferred alternative. Engineers will also be able to discuss potential impacts of each alternative.

This meeting will allow the public to provide input, and comments, either directly to the engineers or in written comments, on the alternatives presented. This meeting is part of the process to complete necessary Federal requirements for the project.

Since there are no formal presentations during the public meeting, participants may attend at any time during the open house.

The purpose of today's meeting is to fulfill MoDOT's legal obligation to seek public comment on plans to spend tens of millions of public dollars.

The public has already weighed in on this issue, during years of meetings on the remaking of the Arch grounds. Based on NPS published comments, the public overwhelmingly favors planning for highway removal.

However, those comments were deemed "out of scope" by the National Park Service, as MoDOT has jurisdiction over the highway portion of the City+Arch+River 2015 project.

This morning on KMOX radio, news anchor Doug McElvin played an interview of MoDOT district engineer Ed Hassinger announcing today's meeting, where Hassinger stated that the Lid over the highway plan is pretty much "set in stone".

With the Lid plan apparently already decided, is it still important for the public to weigh in with its comments about the Lid?

Either way, if you do decide to go, you will get to see one of the most awesome meeting rooms at St. Louis City Hall!