Friday, August 13, 2010

Dream Job In The City

I recently attended a City Affair event at Urban Eats on Meramec.  The topic was urban blogging.  The panelists were Alex Ihnen (Urban STL), Matt Mourning (Dotage) and Steve Patterson (UrbanReviewSTL).

I couldn't have picked a better panel myself and the conversation was great.  The moderator did a great job of allowing each panelist enough time to answer and complete their thoughts.  These 3 guys had some great perspectives and thoughts.  They are good examples of positivity in this town.

As I was listening, I couldn't help but think that these articulate, intelligent people should be working for the city in some capacity.  Hell, they should have the keys to the city.

Then I got to thinking, how best could these minds be used to influence sweeping positive change in the city?  I mean these guys all have day jobs right?  Blogging only gets you so far.  I think we can all agree that actions speak louder than words, right?

I wish the city would value these folks and their perspectives by getting them on the payroll.

I don't think the Board of Alderman would be the place for these folks, although I'd certainly cast a vote in their direction if they did choose to run.

It got me thinking about roles and jobs within the city.  What could these guys bring to the city if they were on the inside of the machine?  What could I bring to the city if I lived in my dream world?

Not unlike the guys mentioned above, I'm a huge city fan, and want nothing more than St. Louis to be a more active and vibrant place.  If I could have my dream job in the city, I know exactly what it would be. 

I have an education in Biology, and have a distinct love for trees and perennial plants in urban settings.  I also like gardening and urban farming. 

So if I had my druthers, the mayor or BOA would hire an urban arborist and gardening director.  The position would be responsible for:
  • a city wide inventory of street trees using GPS mapping and imagery to do a count of healthy and unhealthy street trees in the City of St. Louis
  • choosing exclusive list of native species to be considered for use within the city
  • planning and executing street tree plantings contiguously along residential and commercial corridors by working with aldermen and neighborhood associations to choose the right trees on the right streets 
  • redistributing funding of dept of forestry's mowing/trimming budget by utilizing resources for controlled burns and introduction and management of Missouri native perennials and prairie grasses to bring "NO-MOW" areas to the city (think the "banks" of the River Des Peres and the large medians of mowed weeds/grass between River Des Peres Blvd, etc back to a more native, sustainable, low maintenance landscape)
  • community outreach throughout the city to work with non-profits (Gateway Greening, MoBot.Gardens, Forest Releaf, etc) and city resources to convert unused city owned parcels to urban farms and gardens that would be used to stock local farmer's markets, food banks, etc.
Oh yeah baby, that would get me excited.  I can get behind that...

Imagine same aged, same species, properly planted/placed streetscapes in all our neighborhoods.  Red maples and black locusts lining the streets.  Oaks and sycamores make Holly Hills, St. Louis Hills and other beautiful neighborhoods what they are!  Imagine if every neighborhood had this level of care.

I think this position is entirely realistic and not too far fetched.  Why doesn't the city have this goal?  Why don't they write this position up and post it?  I would vote to have my taxes raised to fund such position/dept.  It probably could be so lean and green a dept, that the funds could come from other dark corners of the city coffers.

Could this happen?

Now it's your turn kind reader...what would be your dream job to make St. Louis an even better place?

4 comments:

Adam said...

i don't know if it's a dream job, but the cultural resources office is currently looking for a new director. i have to say, matt mourning's the first one that came to mind when i read that... matt, you looking for a job?

Daron said...

Mark, you and I have very similar ambitions. I hope such a position is eventually made available for you. I'd like to see it happen.

Michael R. Allen said...

Too late: Matt Mourning has worked for the Planning and Urban Design Agency for over a month now.

Mark Groth said...

Since I was unaware on the planning and urban design agency's role, here some info from the city website:

The Planning and Urban Design Agency was created in the summer of 1999 upon passage of Ordinance 64687 to focus on planning for the future of the City of St. Louis. The Agency provides staff support for the Planning Commission and is comprised of four divisions: Planning and Urban Design, Cultural Resources Office, Research, and Graphics/Computer Mapping.

Responsibilities include the review and approval of:

Chapter 99, 100 and 353 Blighting Studies and Redevelopment
Plans that can convey tax abatement and eminent domain powers
Modifications to the City's Zoning Ordinance and Zoning Map
Neighborhood and Citywide Plans and Capital Improvement Programs
Historic Districts and City Landmarks

Sounds like a great fit. Here's the website if you'd like to do some reading:

http://stlouis.missouri.org/citygov/planning/