Monday, April 28, 2008

STL Rising: From the In-Box


(forwarded with permission)

Dear Friends of the Community:

The "African-American Heritage Festival Committee" (AAHFC) proudly presents the Third Annual "African American Heritage Festival" at the beautiful and refurbished Fairground Park. The city's Northside has always been and will always be the cultural base for the Black community. With many former Northside residents spread over the metropolitan area, we invite you all to this festivity because you are still members of this proud community.

The AAHFC is planning this exciting event for Sunday May 18, 2008. The festivities will begin at 1:00 p.m. and we will party and play until 6:00 p.m. The ENTIRE FAIRGROUND PARK will be filled with plenty of action for everyone so come all and bring your entire family. There will be fishing, boat rides, games, sporting events, music, entertainment, booths and concession stands and much, much more!

Anyone wishing to participate in the event must RSVP to Ms. Harris via fax at (314)381-8534 or call (314)385-0145 to confirm your space. Booth space is now available but it won't be for long so you need to call to confirm your space by May 13, 2008. Time is of the essence. All booths and concession stands are $50.00. Please make checks/money orders payable to "African American Heritage Festival". Ms. Harris will provide all the information to obtain the permits for booths and concessions.

All proceeds from this event will be donated to the charitable organization of the Alderman's choice within the 1st, 3rd, and 21st Wards of your Northside community. Be proud of your community and its heritage. Come out to this wonderful event. This event is for YOU! Please call if you have any questions and we thank you for your support.


Bennice Jones-King - Alderwoman, 21st Ward
Charles Quincy Troupe - Alderman, 1st Ward
Freeman Bosley, Sr. - Alderman, 3rd Ward

Friday, April 25, 2008

Metropolis STL Figures Prominent in 2008 STL City Schools Story

An article in today's Post about young city families with kids reaching school age highlights the stories of a number of former Metropolis St. Louis members.

The article is about the choices families face in trying to balance their desire to live in the city with finding suitable educational opportunities for their children. From homeowner to Special Administrative Board member, former Metropolis St. Louis members are making their stamp on the city.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

KWMU To Feature Neighborhood Histories

Tune in to Don Marsh's St. Louis On The Air show today at 11:00 am, 90.7 FM, to hear a discussion about neighborhood histories as a marketing and economic development resource. It promises to be an interesting conversation. Marsh's teaser for the show didn't reveal any of the guests. Anybody know?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

STL Cardinals: Community Partner

Being forever in search of sources to underwrite community projects, I just happened upon one you might want to check out for yourself. We're talking about the Cardinal's "consignment ticket sales" program.

If you have access to a large group of Cardinal fans - and in St. Louis, who doesn't? - you have the opportunity to make an easy $3,000 - $5,000 for your community group. Here's how the Cardinals explained it to me...

Make a plan to sell 300-500 tickets through your organization. Work out a game date with the Cardinals. The Cardinals then print out the tickets, and in 3-5 business days, they get them to you. You enter into a contract to purchase the tickets, but there is no payment required up front. About 2 weeks before the date of the game, on "settlement day", you make payment to the Cardinals for the tickets according to the contract.

Here's how it helps your organization. Depending on the face value of the ticket, the Cardinals discount the price. Discounts of up to $10 per ticket are available. Work it right, and your organization can clear $10 per ticket. Sell 300-500 tickets, and that translates to $3,000 - $5,000 to your program or project's bottom line. Not bad for a day at the ballpark!

Work out your arrangements early in the season - like now - for a game say in August or September, and you have more than 2 months to sell the tickets. That's not too hard. For your efforts, enjoy a fun night out with your group; your organization gets its name on the Busch Stadium scoreboard and perhaps a plug on KTRS radio; you bring in cash for your program or project; so it's a win all around.

Surely there must be limitations on such an offer, so for more information, call the St. Louis Cardinals group sales office at 314-345-9370 and ask about the "consignment ticket sales" program. It could turn out to be a real winner for your organization!

Monday, April 21, 2008

"Pulse" or "Linked In"?

As we get more connected through the online world, companies offering professional networks through the internet appear to be a growing trend.

To date, most of the inquiries I've received have been through the "Linked In" network. However, since Friday, I've had two inquiries from highly reputable people, on the "Pulse" network. Is Pulse trying to outwork Linked In? Is there a difference?

Online professional networks make sense, but I wonder which ones are the best. How many would you join?

Well, I just joined Pulse. (The system prompts said "Plaxo". Aren't they a part of "Big Pharma"?) Upon entering the Pulse system, there were many of my Linked In contacts!

Small world meets big world?

Friday, April 18, 2008

STL Rising: Earthquake Reports

We were already up - the dog was barking for no apparent reason - and then out of nowhere the whole house started to shake. My first reaction was that a massive gust of wind had just slammed into the house. The only curious thing was that it had lasted so long, twice really, first a short blast, followed by a second, longer one.

The shaking was violent; we could hear it. The next thing we thought was we had just had an earthquake. One's first reactions following an earthquake where everything seems okay are relief and possibly some excitement. However, in an earthquake, one's perspective quickly changes.

The likelihood is, wherever you are during an earthquake, things are probably worse somewhere else. Coming from California, we've felt a lot of earthquakes. This morning's quake was the strongest one I've ever felt outside of the 1989 Loma Prieta quake in Northern California.

We were attending the World Series game between the Oakland A's and the San Francisco Giants when the earthquake hit - that's a whole 'nother story - and sure enough, while the shaking was bad at Candlestick Park, it was much worse in other places. Living along the San Andreas Fault line, you live in wait for the "Big One".

Fortunately, our Midwest shaker ended before things got out of control. So far, there are no reports of serious damage. The quake is reported to have been centered 127 miles east of St. Louis, registering 5.4 on the Richter Scale. Compared to the California quakes we've been through it felt stronger than that. Hopefully things are okay in central Illinois.

I'm thinking the stronger shaking we felt from a medium magnitude quake has something to do with the solid bedrock spread out under this midwest.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Rock, Meet Bottom

There is a space in time in any musical performance where one beat falls exactly between two others. As part of the natural wiring of our brains, we feel that point. When a note is played slightly off beat, we sense that too.

John Bonham, drummer for the classic rock band Led Zeppelin, had an uncanny ability to hit that mark with perfection. The heavy beat behind all of Zeppelin's music was based on Bonham's signature rhythm. The bottom of something, like in music, is looking for a firm stop. It establishes a critical turning point for us to know that something is preparing to resolve in the other direction.

It is becoming more and more apparent that parts of our city have also found their bottom and are now coming back up. N. Grand is a good example. Yesterday, I was part of a group of about thirty people attending a meeting of the Federal Reserve's 2008 Exploring Innovation series. We met at the new offices of Justine Petersen, located at 1023 N. Grand. 1023 N. Grand was once an abandoned building owned by the city's Land Reutilization Authority.

Justine Petersen has renovated the former LRA building into an exquisite headquarters office to serve their homeownership and micro enterprise lending programs. In addition, the building has storefront space for lease fronting N. Grand.

The building is located about five blocks north of the Fox Theater in what some would generally consider North City, but what is also an expansion of the city's burgeoning Midtown district. The meeting was well attended, and many people parked their cars for free along the side street.

1023 N. Grand is a stately old office building, once housing doctors and lawyers. Much of the original charm is intact, especially noticeable when entering through the main N. Grand entrance. It is during the down phase of a community when such properties become abandoned, and a credit to the people at Justine Petersen for seeing potential in the same building and becoming a partner in the revitalization of another part of our city.

As in music, there is art in identifying that precise moment when things begin resolving in a positive direction. Petersen Housing made magic through their efforts. Around town, there is an increasing sense that more and more of our neighborhoods are going through the same positive turnaround. Can you feel it?

Monday, April 14, 2008

STL Rising: Strategic Planning for the SLPS

On Saturday, I was part of a 1000+ person effort to carry out strategic planning for the St. Louis Public Schools. The effort is being led by the Special Administrative Board of the St. Louis Public Schools, supported by hundreds of volunteers.

The SLPS is embarking on an effort to increase the district's performance according to the 30 MSIP (Missouri School Improvement Program) benchmark measures. The event took place at Vashon High School and opened with introductions by SAB members Rick Sullivan, Melanie Adams and Richard Gaines. Gaines is heading up the strategic planning process.

Participants were divided into groups, each focusing on a different area of school performance. I was placed in the "Reading at Grade Level" section. Under this section, meeting standard means one of two things: either a student is reading at grade level, or he/she is placed into an intervention program to improve reading ability. In the SLPS, approximately 20 percent of students are rated at reading at a proficient or advanced level.

Our reading subgroup consisted of about 30 participants, assisted by a facilitator. We began by identifying strategies. Then we voted on the strategies to be forwarded to the SLPS for possible implementatation. The commitment by the SLPS is to keep the community informed of the results of the strategic planning process and the success in implementing the plan.

Our group voted to endorse five strategies (in no particular order):

1. Provide reading labs and specialists
2. Increase professional development for all teachers
3. Reduce class size, and provide in-class differentiation based on student ability (cost factor to do this a concern)
4. Test students before they start first grade or kindergarten to determine reading level. (MAP testing begins in third grade)
5. Focus more resources on k-2nd grade students.

In attendance at the event were many community leaders including:

Aldermen Dorothy Kirner, Jeffrey Boyd, and Craig Schmid
State Rep. Jeanette Mott Oxford
Many former SLPS board members
The Sup't of the Normanday School District
The CEO of Energizer (Chairman of the Education Committee of Civic Progress)

A very positive video was shown at the start of the day, with the theme, "One Community, One School, One Child At a Time".

For more info on how you can become involved, please click here.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Blogs and citizen involvement

Blogs have opened a new channel for citizen communication, and St. Louis has a lively blogosphere devoted to urban issues. Nonetheless, most people don't read blogs, so information exchanged over the internet is missed on the majority of citizens.

While blogs are an excellent, free, and widely available option to distribute information, to fully engage the community, we need a diverse communications program that does the best job of reaching as many citizens as possible.

Neighborhood priorities are often set through citizen groups working together the old-fashioned way-in face to face meetings, usually held one evening a month. The internet is a fast paced way to distribute information, but it's doubtful that it will ever take the place of neighbors getting together in person to work on community goals.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Eminent Domain Forum Tomorrow

(From the flier)

The St. Louis Public Library, in conjunction with the League of Women Voters of St. Louis, is proud to sponsor an Educational Forum on Eminent Domain and Affordable Housing.
The forum will address the meaning of eminent domain and how it may impact housing. The audience will become familiar with government and private organizations that support housing developments in the metropolitan area.

Panelists include Jim Holtzman, Director of the St. Louis County Office of Community Development; Terry Kennedy, Alderman of the 18th Ward, Bill Malek, President Gateway Capital Mortgage Corporation; Avis Laden-Hill, Family Support Manager, Habitat for Humanity; Attorney Anthony Martin, Ombudsman from the State of Missouri; and Rick Bonasch, Director of Technical Assistance of the Regional Housing and Community Development Alliance.

Light refreshments will be served from 9:30 - 10:00 a.m.

Saturday, April 5, 10:00 am to 12:30 pm

Schlafly Branch | 225 N. Euclid Ave. | St. Louis, MO 63108+1505 | 314.367.4120 |