We've Moved

Ecology of Absence now resides at www.preservationresearch.com. Please change your links and feeds.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Downtown Parking

by Margie Newman (Special to Ecology of Absence)

In downtown St. Louis, employees of the convention hotel and SBC find that parking at meters along 10th Street all day is preferable to parking in the garages. I watch them feeding the meters as they expire; yesterday, one of the hotel workers explained, as he was changing dollars for quarters at Breve, that it's cheaper than the garage.

His choice is rational, but bad for retail businesses, like our art gallery, which need the meter spots to turn over. Of course, the real problem is that the city's parking enforcement currently does not include enforcing the two-hour limit posted on the meters.

Inquiries to our alderman and to the parking czar, Larry Williams, over the past few months have resulted in no change to this failure to enforce, though I did get a call from a city PR consultant, explaining that they don't enforce it because the tickets get thrown out in court. Huh?

Such lame responses to basic, obvious needs -- needs addressed long ago in other places that are functioning and growing -- quite simply wear me out. Taking the time to point out such obvious issues to reluctant-to-change city officials is an endless and exasperating job. The early entrepreneurs in a revitalizing retail district bear enough risk as it is; asking us to shoulder this sort of foolishness
is asking too much.

Too often, I feel like the first soldiers on the beach at Normandy. When we get shredded by the shrapnel, maybe they'll figure out some of these basic operational issues, so the next wave will survive longer.

Margie Newman is co-owner of Gallery Urbis Orbis at 417 N. 10th Street and a downtown resident.

Friday, March 18, 2005

A day in the city.


There's now a construction fence and construction equipment surrounding the Arcade Building in downtown St. Louis. My teenage years were marked by countless trips to the Arcade and the City Hospital and hours spent pondering the significance of their abandonment. Now, I have turned my attention elsewhere as those who can direct financial attention to these buildings have come onto the scene.


Meanwhile, the recent demolition and de-densification efforts of Sigma-Aldrich along Broadway have destroyed the sidewalk along the east side of Broadway between Cherokee and Potomac. In place of the sidewalk isn't just dirt, but rather large gravel (not even driveway grade) that causes one to stumble frequently. Should I mention that there's a bus stop at the head of Cherokee on this side of the street, and that lots of Sigma-Aldrich employees might take the bus from that stop to get to and from work?

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

National Conference for Media Reform comes to St. Louis

The 2nd National Conference for Media Reform will take place in downtown St. Louis this year on May 13-15. The Conference takes a progressive look at issues surrounding corporate and independent media, with a strong emphasis on encouraging organizing and activism.

Even if media reform is not your #1 interest or your #1 issue as an activist, I'd still recommend the conference if it sounds interesting to you. No matter what issue you are working on, the way that our increasingly consolidated media covers it (or doesn't cover it) affects public perception of your issue.

Also, I went to the last NCMR in 2003 in Madison, and I learned a hell of a lot of useful information and had a really good time.

The NCMR's website is at http://www.freepress.net/conference.

Scholarship applications (which can be done online) are due by 5pm EST on March 15, which is part of the reason why I'm posting this now. (I would've posted about scholarships sooner, but only just found out about the deadline myself! My apologies!) Even if you can't get a scholarship, discounted early bird registration rates are available until March 31.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Murphy Building: Vandalized!

To the vandals who have started stripping the Murphy Building East St. Louis:

I hope you get some good money for your sloppy work.

ReVitalize St. Louis

New Grassroots Organization
Committed to St. Louis' Revitalization
Announces Formation

As you may or may not know, The Rehabbers Club will be celebrating its 5th Anniversary in October of this year. From its humble beginnings as a small monthly support group, our membership now numbers nearly 1400! It is wonderful that so many people are interested and involved in caring for St. Louis' building heritage.

As the Rehabbers Club expanded in membership, broadened its base, and took on additional projects like the semi annual "Works in Progress" tour and the rehabbers classes, its organizational needs have changed. Handling money, building organizational capacity to manage projects, accepting donations, and sustaining the group require a level of organization above the loose affiliation of the e-mail list we all know and love.

A group of volunteers has been working diligently to lay the ground work for this new organization. So today, with much pride, we announce ReVitalize St. Louis!

We are a diverse coalition of citizens committed to revitalization in the city of St. Louis through historic preservation and sensitive, planned development. We address social, political and economic issues as they impact each of St. Louis' neighborhoods.

Through partnerships, education, outreach, and support, we hope to create positive change in the urban St. Louis community with an eye towards preserving and rejuvenating the city's physical landscape and inspiring progressive civic action.

Claralyn Bollinger (Treasurer), Marti Frumhoff (President), Tim Klaas, La'Shonda Turner-Brown (Vice President), Gayle Van Dyke, Steven Wilke-Shapiro (Secretary), and Taron Young.

St. Louis Rehabbers Club: This is a Yahoo! Groups email listserve that boasts over 1300 members - from an original group of 23 just 5 short years ago! This group shares everything from seasoned "how-to" content and where to live, to which local hardware store carries a hard-to-find item and who to contact at city hall for permits as well as a slew of other rehab-related subjects. The group meets once a month in a different city neighborhood with a determined goal of visiting all 79 designated areas over time.

Rehabbers Classes: Created out of a request for in-depth subject coverage from Rehabbers Club members, the classes, begun in 2003, have been a wonderful addition to the rehabbing community. The 14-week once-a-week classes have highlighted diverse subjects like historic tax credits, environmentally-responsible rehabbing, and both mixed-use and urban redevelopment issues, just to name a few.

The Big BIG Tour: This huge city-wide house tour with on-site homebuyer's fair is enjoying its sixth successful year. It is totally free to the public and is a very popular venue with sponsors and exhibitors as well as the thousands of attendees who have passed through its doors over the years.

The Rehabbers Club won't change. Those who want to continue to share renovation knowledge and resources online and at the monthly Rehabbers Club meetings probably won't notice a difference.

However, there will be many opportunities for anyone who is interested to become more involved in reshaping the City. Please consider volunteering for one of the working committees or helping out at one of our many events.

Our working committees are Built Environment, Fundraising, Marketing, and Programming. We hope you will join us in creating the foundations for these committees as they take shape.

Our small and humble website is in the works and if you're interested in becoming a member, we have membership opportunities available, all of which we'll be telling you about very soon.

We look forward to your involvement and input as we all move forward together in continuing this great renaissance in the city of St. Louis!


Marti Frumhoff

ReVitalize St. Louis
P.O. Box 63062
St. Louis, MO 63163

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

"She was born June 29, 1890."

The title of Denise Hollinshed's article in the Post-Dispatch says it all:

Wellston woman might be world's oldest person

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Down in Ward 25

We attended the debate tonight between 25th ward aldermanic candidates Dorthy Kirner (incumbent) and Steve Patterson. Whoa, what a cakewalk for Patterson! Kirner stumbled on even a simple fact like the address of a new daycare. She was dismissive of Patterson but obviously had not prepared for the debate; Patterson routed her at every turn, correcting her sloppy facts with precise details of the ward. At one point Kirner stated that sommon people shouldn't be allowed to serve on a police oversight board, getting the vocal response of an audience member that common people put the Kirners into office. Patterson made great points and continued his smart strategy of using the race to broadcast the importance of revitalizing the southside wards that are the hard-hit cast-offs of the 2001 redistricting: wards 20 and 25. Hopefully, he'll find victory next Tuesday so that the ward can be rid of the tired machine and its frontwoman Kirner.

By the way, Steve wrote in his campaign blog today:

"At this point I think it is safe to assume we will not see someone reopen [Western Lanes] as a bowling alley. We do need to think, as a community, what we'd like to see occupy the space."