Continuity and the Neighborhoods

I read several STL blogs regularly. One of them is STL Rising. I find this offering a good mix of personal stuff and city related stuff. And, the author has a positive vibe. Anyhow, the following post has stuck with me:

Breakaway Union (August 11, 2008)

My favorite parts:

"St. Louis is described as a city of neighborhoods, and it is. It's like a bunch of little villages all pushed together. Each has its own flavor and personality. The neighborhood feel of our city is one of it's greatest assets. However, maybe all of the neighborhood distinctions aren't necessary? Maybe it's time to consolidate some neighborhoods? We talk about "addition by subtraction" (a topic for a future post), but maybe we should also consider how combining neighborhoods might make them stronger? Down in South City, a quiet area, the Southampton neighborhood (that's one word with one "h"), is gaining positive attention in the media. Neighbors have branded the area with a hip new name, "SoHa", and it's catching on."

"Soha has good momentum.So much so that maybe it's neighborhood organizations should combine? The distinction is so minimal, many people don't even know it exists. But according to official records, the area is actually made up of two neighborhoods - Southampton and Princeton Heights. The difference between them is misunderstood and the boundaries change depending on who you talk to. The city considers the boundary between the neighborhoods as Eichelberger, but the neighborhood organizations put it a few blocks south at Milentz...or is it Rhodes...Ask a neighbor, and many would have no idea what you're talking about. Some would tell you they live in St. Louis Hills, or give you their parish name. Some of the restauants and businesses in the area don't even think of themselves as part of Southampton or Princeton Heights, but rather, Soha. And why not, that's a buzz they want to be part of. A combined Southampton/Princeton Heights, aptly renamed Soha, would have double the population of each individual neighborhood. The combined organizations would carry double the weight down at City Hall. Major streets would be the boundary: Hampton/Chippewa/Kingshighway/Gravois. Board members of existing neighborhood organizations could form one new consolidated board. Fewer meetings would be necessary, and the area's fundraising base would be significantly increased. The combined groups would have double the membership."

Hell yes. How insightful and articulate was that? Hell yes, that hit the spot. (How inarticulate was that?)

What this town needs is a little continuity. A bridge between the fantastic neighborhoods and the mundane ones. The anchors of each zip code, region, neighborhood, whatever need to be linked, named and marketed to masses.

Everyone knows the Hill is a destination place. Same can be said of South Grand and Washington Blvd., etc. Why not capitalize on that popularity? Why not let the name brand spread. Share the wealth, consolidate the parties, entities, etc.

How hard would this really be? It certainly wouldn't be as hard as combining tiny municipalities like Brentwood and Richmond Heights. There is too much money and political gain at stake there. But, the point of combining neighborhood groups is brilliant. It combines resources and opinions and perspectives. It requires less meetings and hours and undirected/unfocused efforts.

Addition by subtraction. That is the best idea I've heard in a long time. I think that thought is worth continued debate and action. STL Rising, if you can make this happen once, as in the case of the Princeton Heights/Southampton example, it could set precedent. Maybe Boulevard Heights and Holly Hills would be next in line.