5 St. Louis Thought-Leaders Share Their Ideas For A Better STL

By ALIVE Staff
In Culture

Rev. Matt Kingman, Board President of Magdalene St. Louis

ALIVE: What are three civic issues or places to improve that St. Louis needs?
Mike Kinman: Sexual exploitation of women; race and class divisions; homelessness and urban poverty.

ALIVE_November_p061r2-2ALIVE: Which one would you tackle first? 
MK: Exploitation of women, because it cuts across every other demographic—and women’s empowerment is the greatest leverage point for social change.

ALIVE: How would you do so?
MK: Healing the world one woman at a time by creating communitiies of saftely where healing from extreme trauma can happen.

ALIVE: What can St. Louis do to make it more attractive to those outside the area?
MK: In the past year, our deep divisions have been broadcast for the world to see. We can be a model for the world for how a great city looks honestly at itself for the common good.

ALIVE: What is your greatest hope for the city?
MK: That we have the courage to look to our most marginalized as heroes who will lead us to a new way of being together.

Louis Wall, Founder of The Texas Room

ALIVE: What are three civic issues or places to improve that St. Louis needs to address? 
Louis Wall: Ignorance of our immigrant and refugee community; uneven support of public schools; stark racial division.

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ALIVE: Which one would you tackle first?
LW: Ignorance of our immigrant and refugee community.

ALIVE: How would you do so?
LW: By recruiting musicians across social borders to collaborate with each other and by facilitating real conversations with the immigrant arts community.

ALIVE: What can St. Louis do to make it more attractive to those outside the area? 
LW: Preach about our great architecture; our cheap, abundant real-estate; and pretty sweet Midwest vibes.

ALIVE: What is your greatest hope for the city?
LW: That we can start to break the chains of institutionalized segregation and start having respectful conversations with each other across social borders.

Cara Spencer, 20th Ward Alderman

ALIVE: What are three civic issues or places to improve that St. Louis needs to address? 
Cara Spencer: Strengthen our urban core through population growth. Safety! Crime rates! More community participation in government.

ALIVE_November_p061r2-4ALIVE: Which one would you tackle first?
CS: It’s fundamental to the success of St. Louis that we grow our tax base and populate our vacant historic structures with humans who will take care of them.

ALIVE: How would you do so?
CS: Encourage the weird and the wonderful, artists and creative small businesses— foster things people long for when they go away.

ALIVE: What can St. Louis do to make it more attractive to those outside the area? 
CS: Make it easier to open a business. We are working on that at City Hall, but our system is currently somewhat archaic.

ALIVE: What is your greatest hope for the city?
CS: I’d like to see us expand our light rail system. To be a first-class city we need a first-class transit system, and it is time to build a north- south expansion to the existing east-west line.

Michael R. Allen, Director of Preservation Research Office

ALIVE: What are three civic issues or places to improve that St. Louis needs to address? 
MA: The Ferguson Commission recommendations; consolidation of school districts into a regional district; addiction to mega-projects like the CityArchRiver project.

ALIVE_November_p061r2-5

ALIVE: Which one would you tackle first?
MA: We have to address the Ferguson Commission recommendations immediately.

ALIVE: How would you do so?
MA: We must ask elected and appointed officials to lead on the policy changes needed … We need implementers, or we need new officials.

ALIVE: What can St. Louis do to make it more attractive to those outside the area? 
MA: We should start by making it attractive. We won’t retain migrants without better government, healthier neighborhoods, more jobs and less naysaying.

ALIVE: What is your greatest hope for the city?
MA: That St. Louis restores its World’s Fair-era motto, “nothing impossible.”

Carl Filler, Director of Strategic Policy Initiatives and Community Partnerships at the Office of Mayor Slay

 ALIVE: What are three civic issues or places to improve that St. Louis needs to address? 
CF: Racial equity; educational attainment; crime and violence.

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ALIVE: Which one would you tackle first?
CF: All are interrelated, but using a racial equity lens to improve educational attainment and reduce crime allows for the biggest impact in our region.

ALIVE: How would you do so?
CF: Provide support to individuals transitioning between systems (e.g., alternative education to traditional setting, prison to home, high school to college).

ALIVE: What can St. Louis do to make it more attractive to those outside the area? 
CF: Share what’s good—our many vibrant neighborhoods in the north, central and southern corridors—and own what’s not.

ALIVE: What is your greatest hope for the city?
CF: That St. Louis can take its social, intellectual and cultural capital and build the city that we all know it can and should be: a vibrant and progressive city.

This story appeared in the November 2015 issue. 

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