10 Observations From a City Dweller

10 quick thoughts from an STL lover/resident:
  1. If just 20% of the properties in my neighborhood changed hands from slumlord landlord to owners with dignity, 80% of our problems would subside. There is a common rule of thumb in business and statistics that says 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.  Read about the 80:20 rule, or the Pareto principle here.
  2. I feel after 8 years in St. Louis Public Schools, my kids are getting about as good a public education as you can in the region.  I feel like I have the tools to understand my options should I need to make a move, they are here:  www.stlcityschools.org
  3. It would be great to perform neighborhood-wide tree surveys.  This could lead to sensible and calculated plantings of new Missouri natives street trees planted and harvest the dying/misplaced/dead ones and make firewood for the city to sell/give away.  This would go a long way to improving curb appeal.  Has anyone out there done this? I think it would be awesome to completely plant an entire neighborhood.  The benefits of street trees are undeniable.
  4. Weird to say, but these days downtown feels less dead at night and more so during the day.  Lots of jobs lost at AT&T, etc.
  5. I am amazed at the amount of development between I-44 and Delmar.  I love what's happening in the middle part of the city.
  6. After visiting and writing about nearly all of our 111 parks, I think our department heads in the city should have valid credentials/experience.  For instance, the forestry dept head should be an arborist and the park's dept head an urban planner, etc.  We have a beautiful park system, but there is no leadership or vision that I'm aware of to elevate or maintain our parks.  It is done on a ward by ward basis by politicians vs. the park's dept.
  7. I am weening myself off of social media...it really changes the way you are viewed by people who don't really even know you.  It is an obvious advancement for our society, but at the same time, I don't necessarily think it benefits my life or my goals.  Reading the Circle by Dave Eggars is helping me frame this technology.  His fictional concept of privacy vs. transparency has changed my worldview on social media and the information age.
  8. If I hear one more suburbanite from the inner ring suburbs tell me what is wrong with St. Louis and why they left my head is going to explode.  You are either part of the problem or the solution.  Quitting and moving is the easy part.  Abandonment and apathy are legacies that take much more time to heal.
  9. It seems like the Post-Dispatch has been more accurately reporting locations in their stories.  They are becoming less lazy in saying "St. Louis man murders 2"...now they are getting it right and saying Bel-Nor man murders 2 in Jennings...baby steps are important in understanding our region and who we are.  #Ferguson has been huge in building accuracy in reporting and honestly talking about our region vs. tagging everything to St. Louis.  The honesty is refreshing.  The people of Ferguson are the ones who can vote out the old ways and build new policies and ways of doing business.  The ball is in their court and I'll watch and hope for the best on the sidelines; wish I could vote for change, but that's not how we are structured.  It's Ferguson's problem to fix.
  10. We are a zero to negative growth region, meaning St. Louis and St. Louis County are collectively losing population...together...for the first time in STL County history.  When this is the case, regional battles exist for jobs, tax base and residents.  As it stands today, Clayton is St. Louis' greatest competitor for jobs.  Centene expanding in Ferguson is great for Ferguson, but another snub to St. Louis.  Remember BPV/Cordish and Centene parting ways?  Centene surely hasn't forgotten, and they are doubling down in the burbs...not St. Louis.  A central, bustling city mean a lot more to me than a sprawling region of suburban campus and "job centers".