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Friday, February 20, 2015

Celebrating Another Year of Progress & Preparing for More Revitalization in 2015: a full recap of ONSLRG’s Annual Meeting & Pot-Luck Supper

Despite the snowy conditions and the frigid temperatures, a good crowd of dedicated Old North St. Louis residents and friends braved the elements this past Monday evening to attend Old North St. Louis Restoration Group’s 2015 Annual meeting & Pot-Luck Supper. Since some of those who had planned to join us couldn’t do so because of the weather, we offer the following highlights from the evening.

ONSLRG President Tino Ochoa welcomed the crowd

ONSLRG Board President Tino Ochoa opened the meeting with a warm greeting and invited all in attendance to help themselves to the great buffet of foods prepared by neighbors for the pot-luck supper.

The meeting portion of the evening included a mix of PowerPoint slides illustrating the memorable moments and developments that took place during 2014 -along with plans for 2015- and reports from ONSLRG Board members, staff, committee chairs, and residents involved with a range of community initiatives in Old North. But first, a quick review of ONSLRG’s mission, as a reminder what all of these activities are designed to advance…

…and an acknowledgment that ONSLRG can’t accomplish any of its goals without a committed base of neighborhood residents who put in an incredible amount of their own time on personal initiatives and organizational projects designed to make Old North an even better place. Because the Annual Meeting is also an opportunity to put the spotlight on the people of Old North, we presented several “Good Neighbor” Awards. Among residents receiving awards were:

  • Charlotte Harris & Laura Hobson for their regular door-to-door flyering for ONSLRG events and delivery of our quarterly newspaper;
  • Veronica Holden for running a homework help program at La Mancha Coffeehouse, and for further investing in Old North with the recent expansion at La Mancha; and
  • Gina Sheridan for so many different contributions to the vitality of Old North, including regular participation in the Old North Walking Club, leadership of the Old North Girl Scout troop, opening her home (along with her husband, Travis) for numerous visitors & tours, serving as Old North’s own head librarian for our new Little Free Library, and for representing Old North so well, whether talking to a reporter, telling a delegation from Detroit why she loves Old North, or even when entertaining a standing room only crowd at a book-signing party for her recently-published book, I Work at a Public Library.

GREEN SPACE COMMITTEE

First up: Green Space Committee, chaired by Gloria Bratkowski, who reported on the activities at Old North’s seven community gardens, especially the food production (& chickens) at the 13th Street Garden - and the many neighborhood clean-ups that took place throughout the year. Gloria also asked all in attendance to mark their calendars for our 2015 neighborhood-wide Brightside clean-up day scheduled for Saturday, April 11

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REAL ESTATE COMMITTEE

The Real Estate Committee report included updates on the BrickStarter campaign…

…the work of our Macho Action Group, which gathers on a quasi-monthly basis to board-up and secure vacant buildings, along with other community improvements involving physical labor;

…and ongoing assistance to prospective residents & businesses with information about Old North, and through monthly updates to our Available Properties List;

In 2014 we also coordinated the purchase of 1227 St. Louis Avenue for a future development…

… and the exciting news that CDA funding has been approved for resuming construction of new, for-sale homes within the North Market redevelopment area:

We were also thrilled that Landmarks Association once again selected a project from Old North for one of their prestigious “Most Enhanced” Historic Preservation Awards

CROWN SQUARE

Although not a responsibility of our Real Estate Committee, it’s still worth noting some of the other real estate related progress realized within the past year, including new activity at some of the Crown Square commercial spaces…

…and with the Sustainable Land Lab lots, including ongoing activities at the Sunflower+ Project on Warren and the Mighty Mississippians space on Montgomery, and especially with the official opening of the Chess Pocket Park at 2713 N.14th Street…

And, speaking of Crown Square, 2014 saw another very successful Rise Up Street Festival, brought to Old North by our Crown Square development partners, Rise Community Development. This year’s event included a “live” painting of the “Rise Up as One” mural on the south side of 2717 N. 14th Street.

REVITALIZING THE SOCIAL DIMENSION OF OLD NORTH…SOCIAL OUTREACH COMMITTEE

Even with all of the development on the physical side of things, the most activity in 2014 seemed to fall within the realm of the “social dimension” part of our mission, and that happened on many levels:

COMMUNITY ARTS INITIATIVES

A steady stream of arts initiatives, sometimes in conjunction with ONSLRG’s Old North Equality Project, served as vehicles for building community, deepening understanding, and bridging differences…

2015 promises to be another arts-rich year with upcoming exhibits planned for the Old North Gallery which will feature the work of Sylvester Jacobs (more photography), Edna Patterson-Petty in September, the St. Louis Artist Guild young artists showcase in April, and a special exhibit in May that will show off the great variety of art produced by Old North residents.  We’re also excited that later this year Old North will play host to performances of Shakespeare in the Streets, brought to us by Shakespeare Festival St. Louis.

Because we have so much going on in our own gallery and more and more arts programming and initiatives with other individuals and organizations in Old North, in 2015 we will facilitate new efforts to bring the arts community together and to foster greater collaboration and support for the programming and events of the different groups. Old North resident James Anderson has agreed to lead our new arts collaborations committee.

As we completed 2014, we also said farewell to Claire Wolff, ONSLRG’s Community Engagement Specialist, who was responsible for overseeing much of the work of the Social Outreach Committee and was integrally involved with most of the progress achieved in recent years…

NEIGHBORHOOD SAFETY & NEIGHBORHOOD OWNERSHIP MODEL

Vela Hermann of the Old North Neighborhood Ownership Model leadership team (in the photo above) reported on the continuing work of making & keeping Old North a safe place for all residents and visitors.  And we were very happy to report that significant progress has been made in recent years in bringing down Old North’s already relatively low crime rate…

HEALTH INITIATIVES

Next up - a discussion about various health initiatives, with some comments from Old North resident and neighborhood podiatrist, Dr. Annessa Blackmun, who reviewed some of the progress over the past year and plans to expand on some of these successful initiatives through the launching of a new Health Ambassadors Committee.

Paulette Sankofa (above) announced plans for a health conference for women next month…

Among the community health initiatives coordinated by ONSLRG in the past year were the launch of the Old North Walking Club…

…and another full, 20-week season of the North City Farmers’ Market in the heart of Old North, along the 2700 block of N. 14th Street.

We also conveyed a reminder that opening day for the market’s 9th season is not that far off…

MARKETING COMMITTEE

Next up, Travis Sheridan, chair of our Marketing Committee, reported on the great media coverage we received in the past year, from St. Louis Magazine to the Post-Dispatch; from St. Louis Public Radio to Channel 4. We even got several mentions and photos of Old North in Kaid Benfield’s book, People Habitat: 25 Ways to Think About Greener, Healthier Cities.

We also hosted a steady stream of visitors to Old North, from near and far, as well as presentations by our staff for university classes and other groups who come to see what makes Old North distinctive…

and a few of our events that we host to show off the neighborhood’s revitalization and to recruit new neighbors and/or customers for neighborhood businesses. The biggest event of the year is always the annual Old North House & Community Tour, and we had a great one in 2014…

The 2015 House & Community Tour will be bigger and better than ever due to our hosting the big event with the very successful “Spring Fling” vintage street festival that takes place on 14th Street, scheduled for Saturday, May 9

Because ONSLRG needs resources to carry out this dizzying array of community building work, Doug Rasmussen reported on the past year’s fundraising efforts, including the Southeast by Old North benefit concert this past September…

And Doug made a pitch to support our work at two upcoming events:

  • The annual Old North House & Community Tour (which, as noted earlier, is scheduled for Saturday, May 9), with sponsorships being recruited now and tickets already available for purchase on our website by clicking HERE; and
  • our annual Trivia Night, scheduled for Sat., April 11th, which supports North City Farmers’ Market and the 13th Street Community Garden; tickets for that are also available for purchase online by clicking HERE or on the image below.

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Because the comprehensive, neighborhood-wide revitalization of Old North’s physical and social dimensions is a bigger task than any one organization could ever accomplish, a key feature of ONSLRG’s work involves finding the right partners who can bring capacity and resources to the table while still respecting the vision and leadership of the people of the community. Identifying and recruiting partners for this collaborative approach to community building, and ensuring that the work of all partners complements and supports each others’ efforts, is time consuming and labor-intensive. While that’s what ONSLRG has been doing for much of the past 34 years, in 2015 we will be setting up quarterly convenings to bring all parties together for the sake of exchanging information about the broad range of initiatives and to explore new ways of collaborating to achieve a collective and more sustainable impact. Watch for details about the first meeting in March and let us know if you would like to be involved.

ONSLRG benefits greatly from the hard work of volunteers, interns, practicum students, and professional staff. The review of the past year wouldn’t be complete without recognizing our current staff, Community Development Specialist Matt Fernandez and Executive Director Sean Thomas, as well as Charlotte Harris, who is with us thanks to the AARP Senior Service Corps, and Community Health Initiatives Coordinator Jessica Payne, with us courtesy of Mission St. Louis and AmericorpsVISTA, and our two current interns, Brendan Ziebarth, from Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Design, and Dan Sachs, from the University of Missouri-St. Louis social work program.

And, of course, we wouldn’t be able to function without a strong board of directors, which includes a diverse mix of people who care about Old North and are willing to put a lot of their time, energy, and creativity into helping ONSLRG serve as a vehicle for the community’s ongoing revitalization. Before the end of the evening, we collected and tabulated the ballots for 5 Board members who will serve in the 2015-’17 terms. Congratulations and welcome to the ONSLRG Board of Directors to Marlon WhartonPaulette Sankofa, and M. K. Stallings; and welcome to another term to re-elected Board members Dave Eisenbraun and Graham Lane.

Pictured above, from left to right, are some of the new and continuing members of our Board: Marlon Wharton, Annessa Blackmun, Gloria Bratkowski, Dave Eisenbraun, Paulette Sankofa, Graham Lane, Doug Rasmussen, Travis Sheridan, and Tino Ochoa.

Not pictured: Christina Blash, Ken Franklin, Terry Harris, Grace Kincaid, Nevels Nevels, Ben Sever, and M. K. Stallings.

Thank you and farewell to outgoing Board members Linda Quinn, Bryan Reckamp, and Rev. Jonathan Stratton.

Before the conclusion of the program, we extended one more invitation to those in attendance to sign up to be a part of ONSLRG’s work by participating as a member of one or more of our committees. We were very pleased that several people took us up on the offer - but there’s still room for more! If you’d like to help ONSLRG with our comprehensive, neighborhood-wide revitalization strategy, please send us an email (info@ONSL.org) or give us a call (314-241-5031) to let us know you’d like to join one of our committees.

Whether or not you can contribute your time, we invite all to support this work by becoming a member of ONSLRG or by making a financial contribution today. We even offer an option for scheduled, monthly donations so that you could spread your support throughout the year. Click on the image below to make a secure, online contribution.

Finally, we thank all who helped with making Monday evening’s gathering such a successful and enjoyable event, especially Matt Fernandez for clearing the snow to create a safe path to the front door; Rise Community Development for use of the space at the former Parks Drug Store building; Dan, Brendan, Jessica, Matt, James Anderson & Fernando for hauling tables and chairs and setting up the space; Marie Oberkirsch of Central Print for sharing chairs; and Tom & Gloria Bratkowski for handling the sign-in and committee tables, and various other set up chores; and all neighbors and friends who prepared and brought food to share with all!

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Monday, February 16, 2015

We are ON for this evening’s Annual Meeting & Pot-Luck Supper!

Yes, Old North St. Louis Restoration Group’s Annual Meeting & Pot-Luck Supper is still going to take place this evening (Monday, Feb. ) from 6-8 p.m. at  N.14th Street.  The rest of the city may have shut down, but we won’t let a little bit of snow get in the way of good, old-fashioned community building (and some good food).

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Please help spread the word and extend an invitation to any neighbors or friends of Old North who may be wondering if the event is still on.

Come celebrate with us as we review the progress achieved in the past year and look ahead at some of the great things on the horizon in Old North!

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Saturday, February 7, 2015

Please Join ONSLRG on Monday, Feb. 16, for Our Annual Meeting & Pot-Luck Supper

Get your appetite ready, and find your favorite recipe for a dish you’d like to share with your neighbors and friends…

As the flyer indicates, we have some suggestions for the type of food to bring.  However, please note that these are just suggestions (and an effort to avoid everybody bringing a salad or a dessert).  So, if you have a favorite, family recipe for something that doesn’t fit into the category of food listed for your name, go ahead and bring what you’d like.  And, if you can’t bring something at all, don’t let that hold you back - we’d love to have you join us anyway.

Although sharing a meal with neighbors and friends of Old North is good enough reason by itself to get together, we’ve got so much more planned for the evening.  As the official annual meeting for Old North St. Louis Restoration Group, we use this occasion to celebrate the highlights of the past year, to share some of our plans for the new year, elect some new members to our Board of Directors, and recruit volunteers and new committee members.  So, please join us and help spread the word to your neighbors!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Mark Your Calendars: Saturday, May 9 is the day for the 2015 Old North House & Community Tour… & We’re Teaming Up with the Spring Fling Vintage Market

This year’s Old North House & Community Tour, scheduled for Saturday, May 9, will be bigger and better than ever! No, that’s not just a lot of unsubstantiated hype. We can guarantee it because this year we’re joining forces with the Spring Fling vintage street market so that attendees of our tour will have even more to see and do in Old North and so that the visitors to the very successful street market will be able to see more of the neighborhood while they’re in Old North.

The photo above is courtesy of the Spaghetti Midwestern blog from the Spring Fling vintage street market in 2013

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Above: the Spring Fling vintage street market on N. 14th Street in 2013; photo courtesy of the Spaghetti Midwestern blog.

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To get your tour tickets now at the early bird price of just $10 each (the price for advance tickets will go up to $12 on April 9, and day-of tickets will be $15), click HERE to purchase online.

If you know of any businesses (or generous individuals) who would like to join us as a sponsor for this year’s tour, click HERE to learn more about the great benefits of sponsorship.

If you’d like to be a part of this year’s event as a volunteer (or if you know of volunteer groups that would be willing to send a crew to help us), click HERE for all of the volunteer info.

To keep posted on all of the developments and updates for this year’s big event, click on the image below to visit the Old North House & Community Tour Facebook event page - and once there, be sure to click on the “Join” button so that all of your Facebook friends will be able to see that you’re planning to go.

Stay tuned for more updates as we get closer to the big day, but feel free to start the countdown to May 9 now… and start inviting all of your friends to join you this year!

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Friday, December 19, 2014

A Huge THANK YOU and a Fond Farewell to Claire Wolff

Today is Claire Wolff’s last day on our staff as Community Engagement Specialist at Old North St. Louis Restoration Group.  Although we are very sorry to lose her, we are thrilled that she’ll still be in the neighborhood as a resident (and she has promised to put in some volunteer time with us!) - and we’re happy to know that she won’t be far away as she takes on her new duties as Grace Hill’s new Director of Community Development.

We really can’t say enough about how much Claire has contributed to the work of ONSLRG over the past two-and-a-half years - most importantly, the great outcomes achieved through her efforts.  We do have a lot of grant reports that spell this out, but there just isn’t enough space here for a comprehensive list.  And, since we’re heading out for one last staff gathering to bid her farewell and good luck on her new endeavors, we’ll consider this post to be just part 1 of our goodbye post.  Watch this space for an update later when we have time to fill in more detail and add more photos.

In the meantime, please join us in celebrating Claire’s work with us - and if you see her, tell her thank you for making Old North a better for all!

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Holidays in Old North -TOMORROW- Sat., Dec. 13…Please Come Celebrate with Us

The biggest shopping day of the year (in Old North) is just about here.  Tomorrow, Saturday, December 13, is our annual Holidays in Old North Festival & Craft Market, and we invite YOU and everyone you know to join us.  The event takes place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in about a dozen different storefronts along the 2600 and 2700 blocks of N. 14th Street, just south of St. Louis Avenue, in beautiful Crown Square in the heart of Old North St. Louis.

Check out our Facebook event page (click HERE) for the latest updates on all of the participating vendors and activities - and be sure to let your friends know you’ll be attending.

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Winter 2014 Edition of Old North Community News Is Out

If you live in Old North, you can watch for the latest edition of Old North Community News to show up on your doorstep any day now. If you’re outside Old North and won’t get a chance to pick up a copy from the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group office or any the retail establishments throughout the neighborhood, you can read all the latest news by clicking on the photo below.

As you’ll see, the cover story shares ONSLRG’s plans for new houses on the 1300 block of Monroe Street.  Thanks to the approval of development gap funding from the City of St. Louis Community Development Administration, construction of 3 new homes could get started as early as spring 2015.

Since we’d like to get as many prospective buyers as possible pre-qualified for financing before construction gets under way, please help us in posting or distributing the flyer below. Click on the flyer to download a PDF version for printing or posting online.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Mourning the Passing of Tom Tschetter, former ONSLRG Board Member, Expert Contractor & Rehabbing Guru

We were saddened to learn yesterday that former Old North St. Louis Restoration Group Board Member and Real Estate Committee chair, Tom Tschetter, has died.   All of us at ONSLRG extend our condolences to Tom’s wife, Susan.  Visitation is scheduled for Friday, December 12, starting at 9:00 a.m. at Grace & Peace Fellowship, 5574 Delmar Blvd, 63112, with the service at 10:00 a.m.

For many years Tom and Susan graciously opened their beautifully and painstakingly restored home on North Market Street for the Old North St. Louis House Tour - and it was always a "must-see" stop on the tour.

As ONSLRG's Real Estate Committee Chair, Tom was one of the select few who participated in a celebration on the evening when construction finally got underway (beginning with excavation for the foundation) for new homes at North Market Place in the spring of 2004.

As ONSLRG's Real Estate Committee Chair, Tom was one of the select few who participated in a celebration on the evening of the day when construction finally got under way (beginning with excavation for the foundations) for new homes at North Market Place in the spring of 2004.

As an expert carpenter and rehabbing guru, Tom was responsible for, directly involved with, or lent a hand in some way with numerous rehabs throughout Old North, including many Landmarks Association “Most Enhanced Award”-winning projects.  We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to Tom for his mentoring of and assistance to countless rehabbers over many years, his service as an ONSLRG Board member and Real Estate Committee Chair, and so many other contributions as a volunteer, friend and neighbor.

In March of 2012, Tom and Susan, and their award-winning home, were featured in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch homes section, and as they always did, they took advantage of the opportunity to share their love for Old North.  Click HERE to see that blog post and for the link to the Post-Dispatch article and more photos of their home.

Tom, in the brown jacket and cap, was among neighborhood residents who volunteered their time on a bitter cold, January morning to board up vacant buildings so that they could survive the winter and later experience full historic rehabs.

Tom, in the brown jacket and cap, was among neighborhood residents who volunteered their time on a bitter cold, January morning to board up vacant buildings so that they could survive the winter and later experience full historic rehabs.

Tom will be sorely missed and appreciated for many years to come for the role he played in the revitalization of Old North.  If you ever find yourself driving through Old North admiring the phenomenal historic preservation that has taken place at so many homes, think of Tom.  No matter whose home you stop at, there’s a good chance Tom was involved in one way or another, whether as a contractor, volunteer, advisor, or friend.

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Just 1 Week Away: Holidays in Old North Festival & Craft Market, Sat. Dec. 13

Get your holiday shopping list together, round up the kids, tell your neighbors, and start clearing out space in your vehicle of choice to load up on all sorts of cool gifts at the annual Holidays in Old North Festival & Craft Market on Saturday, December 13.  The fun-for-all-ages event takes place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in several different inside spaces along the 2600 and 2700 blocks of N. 14th Street, in beautiful Crown Square in the heart of Old North St. Louis.

Did we mention the free photos with Santa?

Plus… food, music, children’s activities from the Magic House, and so much more!

Check out our Facebook event page (click HERE) for more info on the many vendors confirmed to be here - and to let your friends know you’ll be attending.

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Media Buzz about Old North: from Post-Dispatch Coverage of Gina & Travis Sheridan’s Home to St. Louis Public Radio

If you missed the feature in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Nov. 15 about Gina and Travis Sheridan’s Wright Street home in Old North, don’t worry, there will no doubt be plenty more where that came from.  Gina & Travis recently closed on the purchase of the home they had been renting, thanks to mortgage financing from Midland States Bank.  And, long before they officially owned the home, they had already started spreading the word far and wide about how cool Old North is and have been active participants in numerous efforts to keep Old North moving in a positive direction.

The article in the Post starts with an opening line that sounds a lot like what we keep telling anyone who’ll listen:  ”Great things are happening in Old North St. Louis, thanks in part to residents like Travis and Gina Sheridan…

You can read the whole article by clicking HERE.  And to see the short video that accompanies the article, in which Travis proclaims that they live in “probably the best neighborhood in all of St. Louis” and where he gives credit to the work of Old North St. Louis Restoration Group, as well as the support from David Noble of Midland States Bank, click HERE.  And if you see Gina or Travis around the neighborhood, be sure to thank them for the wonderful things they keep saying about Old North.

But that’s not the only good press we’ve received lately.  Shortly before that piece ran in the Post, St. Louis Public Radio posted a story about the ongoing progress in Old North, which included comments and observations from longtime and newer residents and businesses in the community.

Among the individuals quoted in that piece were residents Joe and Susannah Eisenbraun, Phil Valko (both a resident and director of Washington University’s Sustainability Office), Dr. Annessa Blackmun of Blackmun Footcare, M.K. Stallings of UrbArts, Eric Woods of Firecracker Press, Veronica Holden (resident and owner of La Mancha Coffeehouse), Tom & Gloria Bratkowski, and Sean Thomas of Old North St. Louis Restoration Group.  Other neighborhood businesses, nonprofits, and amenities mentioned in the story included Crown Candy Kitchen, Kennedy’s Pet Shop, the Sustainable Land Lab projects (the Mighty Mississippians,  and Sunflower+ garden, the Chess Pocket Park, and the planned Bistro Box), Headhunters Barber & Beauty Salon, and the neighborhood’s many community gardens.

To read the whole story and to listen to brief clips of the interviews, click HERE or on the image above.

For more on media coverage of all things Old North, click HERE for our past blog posts on the topic.

WHAT'S NEW IN OLD NORTH

Welcome to the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group's blog. What's New in Old North chronicles the dramatic transformation under way in the neighborhood of Old North St. Louis. As a neighborhood just north of Downtown St. Louis, Old North is becoming a dynamic urban village of new and historic homes, a landmark eating establishment, beautiful community gardens, and a diverse, friendly, and engaged community.

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