Category Archives: Community

John Karel, Tower Grove Park Director, Resigns

Tower Grove Park Director To Step Down, Says Building On Park’s Legacy Won’t End

After 27 years, John Karel, the director of Tower Grove Park is stepping down.

John Karel

John Karel
Credit Provided by Tower Grover Pak

Karel says during his time as director he always worked to restore, maintain and improve the park. The next person will still have a lot to do to maintain the city’s second largest park.

“I think the most important thing that has happened at Tower Grove Park has been the recognition by the people who’ve known it and love it, how important it is and how important it is to restore the park to its proper position of excellence,” he said. “So it can serve as it always was intended to serve, as a major asset for the broader community of St. Louis.”

Keep reading via St. Louis Public Radio

Ward Capital Improvement funds for Grand Ave. median maintenance

FYI  via Alderman Conway:

Dear Neighbor, Both Alderwoman Ingrassia and myself have received the okay to fund $12,000 of the beautification and maintenance cost associated with the Grand Ave medians. The medians are the entryway to our neighborhoods and should properly reflect who we are. We have received permission to use Ward Capital Improvement funds to be matched by the adjacent neighborhood and businesses. Sincerely,
Ald. Steve Conway, CPA, ATTY

Preschool Storytime starts this week, April 2!

Storytime flyerI am so excited to have our first preschool storytime event this week!  It is free and will be held at the Compton Heights Christian Church (2149 S. Grand) on every Wednesday at noon.  Isaiah 58 is holding a weekday worship service and we thought to hold storytime as a relief for any parents or caregivers in attendance, but it is certainly not limited or exclusive to those clients.  There will be a light luncheon following the service that is provided by Isaiah 58 as well.

All our reader volunteers have been background checked, and have received boundary training (guidelines on appropriate methods when working with children) and storyteller training.  We will use books from the St. Louis Public Library, or from our own collections – we also would love any donations (hint-hint) so let me know if you have any picture books that you would like to donate.  One goal is to let each child go home with a book, but we’ll see how many books and children we will have!

It has been fun to “re-live” the preschool stories that my kids liked to hear and also refresh my memory on the sing-alongs and finger games that we will try to incorporate into the 20 minutes.  If you would like to volunteer, please PLEASE let me know – the storytime is every Wednesday at noon, but that doesn’t mean a weekly commitment – you can read as often as your schedule allows.  Also, if you can put the flyer in your business or around the neighborhood or have access to a church bulletin, etc., we’d appreciate the PR help!  Storytime flyer2

Sustainable in St. Louis gets grant for urban farm

Thanks to founders and 8th ward residents, Monte Abbott and Jeanette McDermott, Sustainable in St. Louis has been awarded a Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) grant to create a new urban farm in the Shaw Neighborhood in partnership with The Word at Shaw and Mt. Olive Lutheran churches.  I will definitely be staying tuned for updates on this activity since I have never had much luck growing veggies in my shady backyard!

Shaw Market gets award from SLDC

Just found out that the St. Louis Development Corporation wants to give Berhe Beyent, the manager of Shaw Market (at 4200 Shaw) an award at the May 5 SNIA meeting!  Shaw Market received grants and support from the agency through the Healthy Corner Store program last year.  I had the pleasure of helping to craft the grant and have been working with Berhe and his wife Genent to continue to promote and tailor the store to the Shaw neighborhood.  Congrats to them!!

Book Recommendations Requested

I enjoy reading biographies.  I think we can all learn something from the experiences of others and to that, have decided to focus on biographies for my reading list this year (shh, don’t tell my historical fictions).  So far, I’ve read about Chief Red Cloud, Gandhi, Mao,and am working on Malcolm X.  Do you have any favorite biographies that you could recommend?  I appreciate your help in filling out my reading list!

Are Meetings Outdated?

With the rise of instant communication and informational lookups through social media and technology, are meetings becoming outdated?  It used to be that meeting with a group face-to-face was the way to stay connected and informed in a community.  Communication was verbal and you took notes on the paper agendas – if you weren’t there, you were likely to miss out on some relevant information.  Now it seems that fewer and fewer people are attending ‘traditional’ meetings.  Some still value the personal contact and interactions that traditional meetings can give, but many others find ways to access the information through technology, not wanting to sit through the agenda of a meeting.  Is there a way to blend technology into a meeting format to appeal to all those above?  A hybrid meeting that will allow for personal contact but keep people informed and engaged at their technology comfort level?  I’ve been thinking about some options:

  • Sending out an electronic agenda with meeting minutes/reports via email
  • Uploading those minutes/reports to an online platform for public record
  • Broadcast meeting via webcam AND use Twitter to allow back and forth comments from online watchers
  • Create discussion boards to followup on action items and collect feedback anytime.  The agenda can bring these comments/discussion to the next meeting

These are just a few things that I think would enhance the traditional meeting and allow for more interaction between those who want to become more involved and those who are core members.  I don’t think face-to-face meetings should ever be put to sleep but want to create an evolving environment that will retain interest and involvement.  I’m sure there are more paths to take – what do you think about this topic and how to create a hybrid meeting?

Program announcement

Ok, anyone who knows me knows that I have a hard time keeping secrets – especially when they are exciting.  I am bursting at the seams to announce my partnership with Compton Heights Christian Church and Isaiah 58 Ministries to start a reading program for our preschool neighbors!  The details have yet to be ironed out but it will be concurrent with the afternoon worship service that Isaiah 58 is beginning in January.  We will be looking for volunteers to be trained and background checked (necessary for working with children) and available to read for about 30 minutes once a week.  I will be personally asking some of you when the times and dates are really nailed down, but with you and the board/church members of Compton Heights Christian, I think we can begin small and simple and see where it goes!

There are many studies and articles that expound upon the benefits of reading to children, but I thought these points summed it up nicely:

Secret to Success

In March 2013, the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research introduced research that showed that children four to five years of age who are read to three to five times a week are six months ahead of their peers in terms of reading acumen. Those children who are read to daily are a year ahead of those who are read to less frequently. ”It does appear to be the case that children who are read to more often keep doing better as they age than other children,” Guyonne Kalb of the Melbourne Institute told The Age newspaper when the study he co-authored was released.

Rich Vocabulary Equals Advantage

Educator Jim Trelease notes that there is a clear difference between conversing with a child and reading to him or her. As he points out in his book “Read-Aloud Handbook,” speech is full of jargon, colloquialisms and truncated sentences. Literature, on the other hand, is much more intricate and therefore vastly more educational. “The language in books is very rich, and in books there are complete sentences. In books, newspapers, and magazines, the language is more complicated, more sophisticated. A child who hears more sophisticated words has a giant advantage over a child who hasn’t heard those words,” Trelease says.

Teaching by Example

“A child who has been read to will want to learn to read herself. She will want to do what she sees her parents doing. But if a child never sees anyone pick up a book, she isn’t going to have that desire,” Trelease points out in a conversation with GreatSchools.org. Reading increases a child’s attention span and a parent’s own cognitive ability, the best-selling author says. It is one of the most essential and valuable activities kids can inherit from parents simply by observing them being engrossed in a book or magazine. Knowing how many habits children pick up from grown-ups around them, reading is one activity parents should aim to get caught doing in front of their kids.

Boosting Self Esteem and Communications Skills

Early readers will be armed with the vocabulary necessary to communicate to their peers, teachers, and parents. Education provider Gemm Learning says children who have the ability to find the words they want to use are more likely to have a strong self-image, sense of confidence, and higher academic standing. Also, well-read kids are more likely to attempt to formulate their thoughts before becoming angry or demonstrative. “With more knowledge comes more confidence. More confidence builds self-esteem. So it’s a chain reaction. Since you are so well-read, people look to you for answers. Your feelings about yourself can only get better,” Gemm Learning says.

So excited!