In today's post (and several more to come), I want to interrupt the world-wide narrative coming out of St. Louis these days and focus instead on the many positive things that are happening here. To start, let me introduce you to a few people who have joined the CWE's TechArtista, a co-working environment located at 4818 Washington. Some of the 60 members are originally from St. Louis, but most have come from elsewhere and have decided to stay after graduation, putting down roots in St. Louis and growing their start-up businesses in a neighborhood they have come to love.
Melanie (Mel) Paticoff, above, signed on as a "member" as soon as TechArtista opened its doors last May. (Disclosure: Jim and I are partners in this venture). About ten days ago, Mel launched a Kickstarter Campaign hoping to raise $10,000 to fund Hearing Our Way, above right, a free magazine for children with hearing loss. Also shown in the photograph above is Sophie, a toy dog with a plastic cochlear implant that accompanies many children as they go into C.I. (cochlear implant) surgery.
Mel, who grew up on the North Shore of Long Island, learned at a young age that St. Louis is known around the world as the epicenter of listening and spoken language for children with hearing loss. Her cousin moved here with her mother (Mel's aunt) for several years to attend Moog Center for Deaf Education. Mel aspired to be a deaf ed teacher someday and kept a Central Institute for the Deaf brochure on her bulletin board during her high school years as inspiration. She enrolled in the deaf ed program at Vanderbilt, then transferred to Fontbonne University to complete her degree, and earned a Masters in Audiology and Communication Sciences (PACS) from Washington University Medical School, graduating in 2013.
While at Fontbonne, Mel attended some classes at W. U.'s Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. Because of that experience she decided to become an entrepreneur in the deaf ed arena rather than a teacher like most of her classmates. Mel became the founder and CEO of Sophie's Tales LLC, an education publishing company for children with hearing loss. The entrepreneurship program is also where she met Eric Hamblett, a founding partner of TechArtista. After working from home for the year following graduation, she was thrilled to find a place where there was energy and inspiration from others working on start-up businesses.
The photo above shows Launch Day (August 9th) of Hearing Our Way's Kickstarter Campaign. As of this afternoon, the magazine had achieved more than 50% of its $10,000 goal. Mel collaborated with members of TechArtista to put the campaign together, including video producer Luke Terrell (see the Kickstarter video here), and Eric Hamblett, above right, who helped spread the word and manned the website.
Hearing Our Way is a free magazine for families and deaf ed teachers. Following a successful launch of a first issue in April, distribution has reached 5000 in 49 states and 27 countries. The goal of the $10,000 campaign, which ends September 8, is to keep the magazine free, and cover postage costs. If Mel can grow the magazine quickly she can target more advertisers (she currently has 5 on board) and sponsors. The magazine, designed by Peggy Nehmen of Nehmen Kodner Creative, looks like classic kids and teen magazines. Mel decided against an electronic book in favor of something kids could hold in their hands. Hearing Our Way is printed locally by Trio Printing on Forest Park Avenue.
Hearing Our Way's mission is to support children and teens with hearing loss by providing an opportunity not only to read about others like them, but to connect with those who are experiencing similar challenges. Mel said that children are now graduating as young as Kindergarten-age from CID and other deaf ed programs around the country and entering mainstream classrooms. The magazine teaches kids to celebrate their differences and provides vital social and emotional support.
Val Johnson, second from left, has a bone-anchored hearing device for her single-sided hearing loss. She is shown at the Kickstarter Launch with her nieces and nephews. Val, who works at Central Institute for the Deaf, is also a creative contributor to Hearing Our Way.
Here's how Mel perceives her TechArtista experience:
"I feel so fortunate to have found TechArtista. These last three months have already changed not only my business but also my life. After graduation, I felt myself drifting away from my peers in deaf education. Even though many of us still lived in St. Louis and worked within the same field, their careers in the classroom and my work as an entrepreneur felt like worlds apart. Now, at TechArtista, I have friends my age who understand what it's like to forego a more traditional path, start their own businesses, and work independently. Through collaboration with fellow members and happy hours on the patio, I've formed friendships and connections that never could have happened if I were still confined to working from home. I am so grateful to go to TechArtista each day, where I am surrounded by creative energy, and there's always a friendly face right down the hall."
I asked Mel how she felt about her decision to stay in St. Louis. She said she LOVES the St. Louis spirit, which to her means she is able to get help with anything she needs. Mel continues to meet with a mentor she met in the entrepreneurial program who is active in the publishing business, and said she has felt welcome at St. Louis Publishers Associations meetings. She is constantly amazed at how easy it is to be part of the community - a bigger fish in a smaller pond, as many who have chosen to stay have found out.
You can give kids with hearing loss a Kickstart by contributing to Hearing Our Way'sKickstarter Campaign, no contribution is too small. To contact Melanie Paticoff visit her website.
Phillip Slein Gallery hosted an opening for St. Louis-based artist Helene Slavin, above, last Friday evening, which coincided with a Local Social event (see previous post). The artist's previous exhibition at the gallery, You are here, occurred in 2010. The opening attracted a lively group that included family, many friends - and passersby who happened upon the welcoming scene.
A press release describes Slavin's exhibition, Aeterna, as "distinctive fractal art." It states that a fractal, which underlies all nature, is both a natural phenomenon and a repeating mathematical set. While fractal art has traditionally been computer generated, Slavin's process is executed manually on acrylic panels. Her abstractions are inspired by forces of nature - waves, clouds, trees, and single cell organisms, photograph above, and more on artist's website.
The photograph above shows the artist with her daughter, far left. Gallery owner Phillip Slein is shown in the background, middle. Normally, the background is where you'd least expect to find the gregarious Mr. Slein.
Getting back to the blog on a Monday morning is always easier when pictures tell most of the story. This is the happy situation I find myself in with photographs and a couple of videos I took at Friday night's Local Social event. No matter how many times I cover this event, I always find something unexpected to share.
The vivacious fortune teller, above, who promised to deliver only funny predictions, was located at Euclid and Maryland Avenues, above. The Landolfi Quartet on World Chess Hall of Fame's patio, above.
Musicians Mark Pagano and Aaron Mansfield, left, and artist Marcus Curtis, right outside Wolfgang's Pet Stop. Irie Sun singer Jessie Phillips and guitarist Connor Low performed on Maryland Plaza.
When this photo was taken, the Wonder Wheelers, above, were gearing up for a performance around the Maryland Plaza fountain. The performers learned their circus tricks attending Circus Kaput's classes at COCA.
From left, Amy Howell Mittelstadt, President of the Central West End Association, Eric Hamblett, the new Marketing & Communication Specialist for the (CWE North CID) Community Improvement District, Kate Haher, Executive Director of the CWE North CID, which sponsors Local Social events, and Frances Thompson, CWE Event Producer, were photographed at Bar Louie Friday evening.
CWEnder Bill McGowan and son Walter waiting for Balloon Twist artist to complete Elmo outside Left Bank Books. The artist's ladybug balloon bracelet was my favorite souvenir from the evening. Comedy juggling duo Brothers Kaputnik photographed with CWEnder Joan Falk and her granddaughter. West End Word Art Critic Dickson Beall is barely visible behind the performer, right.
Artists Henry Ptasiewicz, above, and Jennifer Hayes (not photographed) were stationed outside The Silver Lady, 4736 McPherson.
Though most people were walking around the neighborhood, a pedicab ride was an option,
as was a unicycle
and for The City's Finest, bicycles.
Don't miss the final Local Social of the 2014 season scheduled for Friday September 12.
Yesterday, a press release from Tishaura Jones, Treasurer of the City of St. Louis, announced that Xerox and Parkmobile have been selected to upgrade parking meter technology in the City.
According to the press release: "Xerox will be responsible for upgrading parking meters and software technology, while Parkmobile will be responsible for launching a smartphone app to pay for parking. During the recent six month parking technology field test, Xerox hosted the pilot site at Euclid and Laclede in the Central West End. That site featured single space meters, multi-space meters (see below), and smartphone payments." Read more here...
The meter pictured above is the one that was chosen from among those tested.
I'm somewhat relieved that the multi-space meters located on Euclid between West Pine and Laclede were not chosen, as I have seen people standing there puzzling over how they work. I got stuck in the Spanish language version once and decided it was better to pay the ticket than waste additional time trying to find my back to my native language.
Last November, I attended a neighborhood Town Hall Meeting organized by Tishaura Jones to discuss parking issues. It was sparsely attended, so there were opportunities to ask many questions.
Here's what I learned: The City Treasurer is head of St. Louis City's banking systems and parking services. The office began outsourcing parking meter maintenance and services, which includes enforcement, i.e., meter maids, in 2004. Since parking meter maintenance is outsourced, the City Treasurer's office receives only a portion of the funds collected. At that meeting I also learned that the office collects approximately 14.6 million dollars a year from parking services. What I understood is that a third of the revenue comes from violations, some from parking meters, and the rest from municipal garages. In the CWE, the Argyle Garage at Euclid and Lindell contributes 5% of the total income. I don't recall the figures for 9 North Garage on Euclid, though I understood it wasn't performing as well as had been projected, though that could have changed by now. I asked when municipal parking garages were going to accept credit cards instead of cash only payments, and was told it was under discussion, but not as easy as it sounds to implement. I'm not certain why.
Most of the parking meters in the neighborhood look like the old one above. What many of us have noticed is that visitors study them front and back trying to figure out what the hours of operation are. Years ago, Coffee Cartel's proprietor Dennis Gorg had stickers made (see example above) that clearly state the hours. Recently, the Community Improvement District had more stickers printed and volunteers have been putting them on both sides of meters (mostly at the north end) to help visitors out.
A few final notes on parking: Bring up the subject in the neighborhood and you'll get many opinions, but most agree that the meter maids seem to have a 6th sense when a meter is about to expire. Parking regulations aren't uniform in all areas of St. Louis and St. Louis County either, so often people seem surprised that you have to feed the meter on Saturday, for instance, and after 6:00 p.m. Holidays are free, but which ones? I can tell you from experience that Columbus Day isn't on the list.
I heard someone say recently that parking is extremely inexpensive here compared to other cities, which is so true. Try parking in San Francisco, below, for instance. At least you can use a credit card.
A few years ago I photographed a Parking Parklet in San Francisco, above, where PARK(ing) DAY was started by Bay Area architects in 2005. The event has spread across the country and reached our fair city last year.
Tishaura Jones' office is now accepting applications for PARK(ing) DAY, scheduled for September 19. Participants are invited to turn metered spaces into temporary public spaces. In a recent press release, the Treasurer encourages people to use parking spaces for performances, art galleries, even bowling. They'll waive the $25 application fee and meter rental fee for those who want to join in.
On Tuesday evening the Neighborhood Security Office (NSI) invited CWE residents to an ice cream social to celebrate National Night Out. The annual event showcases the importance of police, community partnerships, and citizen involvement in the fight for a safer neighborhood. The event was held on the parking lot adjacent to the NSI office at 447 N. Euclid.
Those who stopped by included firemen from the neighborhood's Engine House 28, above.
NSI Deputy Director Sarah Wickenhauser, left, with an unidentified neighbor. Neighborhood Security Initiative Director Jim Whyte, above
Alderman Lyda Krewson, middle, is photographed with Jan Kasalko, left, and Hannah Roth, right.
CWEnder Laura Lock with Captain John Hayden, SLMPD, 5th District Commander and CWE resident. As you might be able to tell from the cup Laura is holding, Ted Drewes custard was on the menu for the neighborhood social. Captain John Hayden with Alderman Lyda Krewson
CWEnders and Personal Trainer/Zumba Instructor Noelle Lopez and Phil Clow also stopped by to say hello.
The flyer for the CWE's National Night Out invited neighbor's to "give crime a going away party." With the success of supplemental police patrols, increased security cameras and the Neighborhood Security Office located on Euclid, the CWE has become a much safer place.
Sorry I had to miss the event, but thanks to Jim Dwyer for sharing the photos, and bringing home some Ted Drewes.
Restaurateur Salvador Alonso, who has been operating El Jalapeno in Anna, IL for the past 12 years, is planning to open El Burro Loco at 313 N. Euclid, above.
In a phone conversation with Alonso today, he said he expects it will take approximately three months to open his authentic Mexican restaurant in the CWE. He plans to use the freshest ingredients for a wide variety of fajitas, chimichangas, burritos and tamales. He describes El Burro Loco as a family-friendly place that will feature a kids menu. The restaurant will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Alonso plans to apply for a liquor license for El Burro Loco. On a related note, it seems that many CWEnders are under the impression that an earlier proposal to occupy the space by Crushed Red failed due to lack of support for a liquor license. In fact, the requisite number of signatures were obtained by that applicant, but the application was withdrawn one day prior to the scheduled hearing. The applicant, who very sadly has since passed away, had the signatures of a majority of neighbors who fall within the 300 foot radius of the premises, but elected to withdraw at the last minute.
As with Crushed Red, this would appear to be an ideal use for that forlorn location.
Cycling Savvy Bike Classes Thurs & Sat. Thurs. 6-9 p.m. Truth & Techniques of Traffic Cycling, fast-paced classroom instruction, 320 N. Vandeventer, Sat. 8-11 a.m. Train Your Bike, bring bike to parking lot 6345 Northwood (Clayton's Captain School), $30 per class.