News & Stories

Wed, 05/20/2015 - 7:18am by Nicole Hudson

Does It Matter If It Didn’t Happen to You?

Imagine growing up in St. Louis, and being a recent Job Corps graduate with new work.  
Imagine renting a new home for this new life as a relatively new parent. 
Imagine finishing work on a spring Wednesday to find your front door shadowed by a public message: “You can’t live here.” 
 
In her public comment at a working group meeting earlier this week, University City resident Linda L. related that story about a young couple she knows. One has a history of trauma, she said; the other, a background of poverty. Neither knew what to do, nor where they would sleep Wednesday night. Which is how they wound up calling her. 
 
Each is 21 years old, so they’re no longer minors under the law. To Linda, who is many years older, they’re still kids. By the standards of the Commission’s Child Well-Being & Education working group, which considers anyone under age 26 a child, the couple isn’t quite adult, either. Nevertheless, the two are facing the “grown-up” issue of safe and secure housing, not only for themselves but also for their baby.

Even when told by a person who’s not a main character, so to speak, in an anecdote, stories like these drive home the real-life manifestations of data points and research findings experts have been presenting at Commission meetings and working groups since early December. Numbers on who works where, and what they make. Charts on who’s sick where, and how life ends for some but not others. Figures showing who’s poor, near-poor, and perpetually hovering around or between those deeply stressful realities.

The next working group, which runs from 3:30-5:30p this afternoon, will be another chance to sit alongside fellow St. Louisans whose personal experiences may reflect, or contradict, or complicate expert findings. Listening and responding has been integral to the Commission's process; hearing the stories people tell about their lives have been a way to make "it" matter, even if "it" didn't happen – or isn't likely ever to happen -- to you. 

And today’s meeting, focused on the role of place in economic inequity and opportunity, also happens to be taking place in the Cortex Innovation Community, a newly-developing area hailed both locally and nationally as an innovation district… a hub of promise and potential just a mile or so from an urban stretch known globally, nationally, and locally as the Delmar Divide… and a venue for critical public dialogue just 10 miles or so from the North St. Louis County suburb that’s part of this commission’s name and its intrinsically regional scope.

We hope you’ll be there.

By Elaine Cha for #STLFwdThru
​Photo: Philip Deitch


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