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Archive for March, 2013

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Sunday, March 31, 2013

ONSLRG Receives “Growing Green” Award for Leading Old North’s Transformation

This past Thursday the Missouri Gateway Region chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council presented Old North St. Louis Restoration Group with one of their 2013 Growing Green Awards in recognition of the dramatic transformation achieved in Old North in recent years and the role ONSLRG has played in leading the effort.  ONSLRG was nominated for the “Community Champion” award by Rosemann & Associates.  firm.

ONSLRG Board President Tino Ochoa and Executive Director Sean Thomas were on hand Thursday to receive the award.

The Executive Summary of the nomination by Rosemann highlights ONSLRG’s perspective that “sustainability is more than the built environment” and the organization’s “programming and activities to cultivate relationships among long‐time residents and newcomers.”

Many programs, including a multi‐pronged healthy eating strategy with a farmers’ market, produce‐growing community gardens, and a neighborhood‐owned grocery co‐op, enable residents to enjoy healthier lifestyles and enhance community connections. These and other examples are eloquent testimony to Old North’s commitment, community spirit, and leadership in creating a diverse, vibrant and sustainable community within the city of St Louis that can serve as a brilliant example of how true sustainability is conceived and practiced.

Recent events from the past couple weeks provide good illustrations of this commitment to community-building.  On the same evening as the Growing Growing Green Awards ceremony, the monthly Neighborhood Open Meeting was under way at the Old North Gallery, and last Sunday, ONSLRG hosted an event which will undoubtedly become a new spring tradition (even though we were still digging out from a good 10 inches of snow at the time):  a community celebration with children’s crafts, face-painting, and free photos with the Old North Easter Bunny.

Thank you Ann Hubbard of Photomaton for taking the pictures.

Thank you Ann Hubbard of Photomaton for taking the pictures.

Thank you Jessica Neal for handling the face-painting duties.

Thank you Jessica Neal for handling the face-painting duties.

Thank you to all of our staff , practicum students, and volunteers who make these events possible.  And because coordinating a neighborhood-wide revitalization strategy takes a lot of time and planning, we are lucky to have a professional staff and an office to coordinate the many details.  To help us cover these costs and to continue the work of facilitating a sustainable transformation, please make a contribution to Old North St. Louis Restoration Group today.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Join us Thursday, March 28, for This Month’s Neighborhood Open Meeting

Please join us for this month’s Neighborhood Open Meeting this Thursday, March 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group offices, 2700 N. 14th Street.  Speakers include:

  • Seth Turner from Kennedy Pet Shop and Beth Ketcher from Studio STL, both of whom will talk about their respective businesses opening soon in Crown Square;
  • Officer Lori Wozniak to discuss neighborhood safety issues;
  • Michelle Howard from Energy Care to talk about the energy-related services that they provide to the neighborhood; and
  • a group from the Sustainable Land Lab competition to talk about implementing a healing/meditative garden space in the neighborhood

Should be a good one! Please spread the word and encourage other neighbors to attend.  Refreshments will be provided!

See you Thursday!

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Scenes from Land Lab Exhibit and Open Mic for Arts in Old North

Thank you to all of the residents and friends of Old North who came out to the Old North Gallery on Thursday evening to view the Sustainable Land Lab exhibit and afterwards to speak up for the arts in Old North.  As noted in our post from earlier on Thursday, the evening offered a convergence of art, sustainability, and community in the form of two, back-to-back events: a reception for the viewing of concept boards in the Sustainable Land Lab Competition, and an “open mic” session designed to allow residents and other community stakeholders an opportunity to express their thoughts on the presence of arts in Old North and their ideas for how additional support for the arts can help further the neighborhood’s revitalization.

Sustainable Land Lab Competition Exhibit Reception

St. Louis Beacon - Kresge Arts St. Louis Open Mic Event

Attendees were greeted with the upbeat steel drum music of Jamaica Ray.

A standing-room-only crowd was on hand to share their perspectives and listen to each others' thoughts on the role of arts in Old North.

A standing-room-only crowd was on hand to share their perspectives and listen to each others' thoughts on the role of arts in Old North.

William Burton Jr. of the 14th Street Artist Community discussed the capacity of the arts to bring different groups of people together.

William Burton Jr. of the 14th Street Artist Community discussed the capacity of the arts to bring different groups of people together.

Dave Eisenbraun shared his experience of raising three sons in Old North and how pleased he is that his son & daughter-in-law are raising his granddaughter in the neighborhood.

Dave Eisenbraun shared his experience of raising three sons in Old North and how pleased he is that his son & daughter-in-law are raising his granddaughter in the neighborhood.

ONSLRG's community engagement specialist, Claire Wolff, described how arts have been a key part of many of the group's initiatives, including music and children's activities at the North City Farmers' Market.

ONSLRG's community engagement specialist, Claire Wolff, described how arts have been a key part of many of the group's initiatives, including music and children's activities at the North City Farmers' Market.

Former ONSLRG intern M.K. Stallings talked about the power of poetry and how much the neighborhood has changed for the better over the past 10 years.

Former ONSLRG intern M.K. Stallings talked about the power of poetry and how much the neighborhood has changed for the better over the past 10 years.

Terry Harris, with his daughter Mhari at his side, shared why he and his family recently moved into Old North and what he appreciates about the arts programming for children that Old North already offers.

Terry Harris, with his daughter Mhari at his side, shared why he and his family recently moved into the neighborhood and what he appreciates about the arts programming for children that Old North already offers.

We had many more who took their turn at the microphone and offered their testimonials about Old North, but due to space limitations, we can’t acknowledge or show you all of them.  However, please check out the St. Louis Beacon’s report on the event, which includes a brief summary and a video of selections from the meeting.  Click HERE for their report, “Old North residents celebrate rebirth, discuss what can be.”

If you couldn’t make it to the event but still want your voice to be heard, you can express your thoughts, ideas, hopes or other observations online, through Wednesday, March 27, by clicking HERE.

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tonight: Come See the Works of a Neighborhood Artist, Review the Land Lab Concepts, & Share Your Thoughts About Art in Old North

Starting at 5 p.m. this evening, we’re hosting a great mix of conversation and community engagement around the issues of art, open space, and community sustainability.   Please join us for all of the above, and enjoy some tasty refreshments while you’re at it.

On your way to the events at the Old North Gallery (2700 N. 14th Street, just one block south of Crown Candy Kitchen), please take some time to appreciate the artwork on display in several of the storefronts along the 2600 and 2700 blocks of N. 14th Street.  In addition to the art that can be seen regularly at St. Louis ArtWorks (2707 N. 14th Street) and the 14th Street Artist Community (2701 N. 14th Street), we are pleased to announce that Old North resident Marguerite Corey has graciously allowed some samples of her incredible artwork to be put on exhibit in the windows of other buildings at Crown Square for a limited time.

Marguerite’s work involves paper folded into a variety of shapes and 3-dimensional objects, often with backlighting to allow the pieces to be seen at night and to feature the different shades of paper or to bring out the the dimension and depth of the items.

Please view Marguerite’s work at 2601, 2607-09, 2617, and 2700 N. 14th Street.  This last address is the office of Old North St. Louis Restoration Group (see below), in the windows near the main entrance to the office, not the gallery entrance.

After you’ve taken advantage of the opportunity to view Marguerite’s artwork, come on down to the Old North Gallery to see the exhibit of display boards from the Sustainable Land Lab Competition.  Members of the teams behind the proposed projects will be on hand to discuss their concepts for temporary re-uses of empty lots in a way that demonstrates sustainability.  And since not all of the concepts will be selected through this competition for implementation on 4 lots in Old North, this informal gathering offers a good setting for a conversation about how the project concepts might be implemented elsewhere in Old North (or other neighborhoods) apart from the competition.

The Land Lab exhibit reception runs from 5 - 7 p.m.

More details about the Sustainable Land Lab Competition can be found at the site maintained by Washington University’s Office of Sustainability by clicking HERE.

Then, at 7 p.m., we’ll play host to an event brought to us by the St. Louis Beacon and the Kresge Foundation. The Kresge Foundation has awarded a planning grant to the Greater St. Louis Community Foundation to partner with the Arts and Education Council and the Regional Arts Commission to identify neighborhoods where a stronger arts presence can serve as a tipping point for sustainability and vitality. We are very pleased that Old North is one of 4 neighborhoods in St. Louis under consideration through this planning process.  Tonight’s “Open Mic” event will provide residents and friends of Old North - and anyone else who cares - an allotment of 3-minutes each to express their thoughts on how the arts are present in Old North today, how the arts have played a role in the community’s revitalization to date, and how additional support for the arts can stimulate or foster even more community rejuvenation.

The “open mic” session is scheduled to last no more than an hour.  If you’d like to take a turn at the microphone to share your opinion, please arrive by 6:30 p.m. to sign up to speak.

We will have refreshments at both of the events thanks to generous contributions from Washington University Office of Sustainability and the St. Louis Beacon.

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Join us for some conversation about sustainability, the arts, & community

On Thursday, March 21, the Old North Gallery at 2700 N. 14th Street, will play host to two, back-to-back events that have direct implications for a vibrant, healthy, and dynamic community.  Please join us for light refreshments and good conversation at both of these gatherings - and invite your neighbors to come along with you.

5 - 7 p.m. RECEPTION FOR SUSTAINABLE LAND LAB EXHIBIT

The Sustainable Land Lab Competition exhibition at the Old North Gallery has been extended!  Please join us on Thursday, March 21 from 5-7 p.m. to view display boards from the 14 teams that were selected to advance to round 2 of the competition – and see which ones are advancing to the next round.  Come meet some of the individuals who are behind these creative ideas for sustainable re-uses of vacant lots and learn what it will take to implement these inspiring proposals.

For more information on the Sustainable Land Lab competition, which is co-sponsored by Washington University’s Office of Sustainability and the City of St. Louis - and details about the various proposals, visit the Land Lab website by clicking HERE.

7 - 8 p.m.  ”OPEN MIC” TO TELL US WHAT THE ARTS MEAN TO OLD NORTH

Presented by The St. Louis Beacon and Old North St. Louis Restoration Group

St. Louis has received a grant from the Kresge Foundation* to find out from YOU how the arts impact your lives, your neighborhood and your work.  Old North is one of 4 neighborhoods in St. Louis under consideration for possible support for arts investments that could stimulate additional community development.  With that in  mind, we are holding an “open mic” event to give you a chance to share your thoughts on the arts.  Each person who signs up will receive 3 minutes at the microphone to tell us and the project planners what we should know about how the arts are at work in Old North now - or how you envision they could be in the future. The feedback from this event will be included in the final report to the grantee.

Come early to sign up to speak and take advantage of the opportunity to see the  of Sustainable Land Lab Competition exhibition.  Sign up starts at 6:30, program at 7 and will last for a maximum of 60 minutes.

Some questions to get you thinking:

  • How can the arts benefit you? The Old North community?
  • How can the arts create or further define a “sense of place” in Old North?
  • How could individual artists be supported through a long-term commitment to arts programming in Old North?
  • How might arts programs bring additional economic viability to Old North? …or to the St. Louis region?
  • What is your vision for the arts in Old North? For the region?
  • What advice do you have for the Kresge arts partners as they consider programming recommendations?

*The Kresge Arts St. Louis grant is managed by the Greater Saint Louis Community Foundation in partnership with Arts & Education Council of St. Louis and the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis.

Please help us spread the word  - print this off and pass it along to your neighbors or post it where others can see it.  And for the social media-savvy, please post this information to Facebook, send a tweet on Twitter, and post a note on your LinkedIn account.

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Saturday, March 9, 2013

How can YOU help Old North Continue Revitalization & Defy the Odds?

It’s not easy to turn a neighborhood around after more than a half-century-long downward spiral.  The little, historic neighborhood of Old North Saint Louis, however, is defying the odds and confounding the skeptics. Old North’s success with attracting new residents and businesses has demonstrated that reversing the pattern of abandonment and decay is possible.  And the dramatic 28% population gain from 2000-2010 shows how incredibly effective community-based development can be, especially when it involves strategic and coordinated investments in historic preservation, mixed income housing development, and other public improvements.

But the job is far from over.  The loss of historic buildings that reflect the neighborhood’s unique character and architectural integrity can undermine Old North’s positive momentum.  The devastating fire that consumed 1415 Benton yesterday provides a disturbing illustration of the continuing danger to the health, safety, reputation, and overall viability of the community posed by abandonment and neglect.

Old North Saint Louis Restoration Group has shown over and over again how vacant, historic, and even severely deteriorated buildings can be transformed into attractive and productive community assets.  For examples of some of these developments, click on the photo below to see a short YouTube video.

None of that would have been possible without an engaged and determined community and a neighborhood-based community development organization with the charge of preserving Old North’s history and unique sense of place.

Although the comprehensive, neighborhood-wide revitalization of Old North requires major investments in the physical dimension of the neighborhood (through historic preservation, new home construction, neighborhood clean-ups, and community gardens), a viable and sustainable community also requires a healthy social dimension.  Consequently, ONSLRG’s work also involves addressing the needs of the community’s residents - as defined by the community - and efforts to nurture strong and supportive relationships among residents.  One of the best vehicles for achieving both of these goals has been the North City Farmers’ Market.  The open-air market in the heart of the neighborhood (every Saturday from June through October) brings healthy and affordable foods to the neighborhood and serves as a weekly platform for informal community building.  As an event that is open to all residents, as well as visitors, the market  celebrates the diversity of the community, shows off the vibrancy of the neighborhood, and draws customers to the new businesses setting up shop at Crown Square.  Click on the image below to see a short, high quality video that captures the spirit and atmosphere of the North City Farmers’ Market.

ONSLRG’s ambitious mission to revitalize the physical and social dimensions of Old North in a manner that respects the community’s historic, cultural, and urban character requires a lot of time and effort from both volunteers and professional staff.  If you’d like to contribute some of your time, click HERE to learn more about the various opportunities to volunteer with ONSLRG.

Because Old North Saint Louis Restoration Group relies on residents, friends, and other supportive individuals to cover a significant chunk of our costs for maintaining an office, employing a professional staff, and implementing a broad variety of community improvement initiatives, your financial contribution can help us continue our work.  Nearly 3/4 of ONSLRG’s $338,709 operating budget for 2013 will need to come from foundations, corporate grants, individual contributions, and memberships.  Since corporate and foundation grants require a good deal of staff time to research and prepare applications, direct contributions from individuals and businesses represent the best way to allow our staff to dedicate more of their time and focus to the work of revitalizing Old North. Please show your support by clicking on the Donate Now! button below.

If you know of others who may be interested in our work, please pass this information along to them via personal contact, postings on Facebook, or tweets on Twitter.  Thank you to all who have helped ONSLRG do so much over the past 32 years.

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Friday, March 8, 2013

A Mixed Day of Sadness & Hope in Old North

Earlier today a massive fire destroyed the vacant building at 1415 Benton within a period of no more than 45 minutes.  The building has been vacant and owned by Northside Regeneration LLC for about six years.

By the time firefighters arrived, it was too late to save the building.  The east wall (on the right side) completely collapsed moments after the photo above was taken, and the whole building was a pile of rubble within a matter of minutes.  The photo below shows a small portion of the front wall, all that remains of 1415 Benton, and significant damage to the building at 1417-19 Benton.

Old North Saint Louis is home to three separate National Register Historic Districts; the largest, the Murphy-Blair district, covers most of Old North, including the 1400 block of Benton.  Although we’re glad that no one was injured in today’s fire, the loss of any “contributing” historic property jeopardizes the viability of the whole district.

A Different Mood in the Afternoon

In contrast to the sadness over the loss of yet another historic property in Old North, we were very pleased to welcome a delegation of Fulbright Scholars this afternoon who came to the neighborhood to learn about the community’s revitalization and to contribute some of their time.  The volunteers helped with some interior work in the building which houses the Old North Grocery Co-op at 2718 N. 13th Street.

The students are in St. Louis for a conference of Fulbright Scholars attending colleges and universities in the U.S.  The students visiting Old North today were from Norway, Indonesia, Finland, Trinidad And Tobago, Togo, Chile, Ireland, Ecuador, United Kingdom, Montenegro, Latvia, Spain, St. Lucia, India, Turkey, Slovenia, Croatia, Denmark, and India.  The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 with a mission to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

In addition to their assistance at the Old North Grocery Co-op and other manual labor, the volunteers contributed to the economy of Old North by visiting Crown Candy Kitchen and other neighborhood establishments.

We thoroughly enjoyed the visit, the assistance, and the refreshing conversation.  Thank you to the United States Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and Institute of International Education for bringing the students to Old North.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

It’s Election Day in Old North… Have You Voted Yet?

Voters in Old North are going to the polls to vote for candidates in races for Alderman (in both the 3rd & 5th Wards) and Mayor.  Be sure to get out and exercise your right to vote. Polls close at 7 p.m.

For information about polling places and who is on the ballot, visit the website for the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners by clicking HERE.

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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