Archive for the News Category

Citywalk News for June

Ferguson Needs Volunteers

Here we are, in the process of reopening some of our businesses.

In time, Ferguson will be back to how it was before the pandemic brought our world to a stand-still. Whoa, not so fast there fella! It will be a while before we get back to our pre-Covid-19 ways.

Before the shelter-in place-order went into effect, could you have imagined the joy you felt when parading past someone’s home to celebrate their birthday? How about seeing the B-2 fly over the hospitals in the St. Louis area? These little things are what really makes a difference in our lives now.

Now it’s time to get back out in the world, but not how it was before.

The businesses are in the process of reopening, but not in the capacity of how it was before. Limitation on the number of customers will be part of our new normal. Stores will have less product because they will be making more room for social distancing. Restaurants will have fewer tables in order to safely take care of their customers. As last month’s Financial Focus pointed out, “As part of our economy shrinking, perhaps everyone should expect less – a 20% cut across the board. Rather than raising prices to keep up with what was previously considered a nice profit for a restaurant – serving fewer people and buying less food may reap pretty close to that same net profit. Who knows, it might work?”

I’m not suggesting that I know what it takes to run a restaurant or a retail store and still be rewarded with a profit. I do want to talk about how we can help our community get to a place where we, as citizens, see a profit. Not necessarily a monetary profit, but a profit in how we view and see our community.

I know what you’re thinking . . . get out and patronize our local businesses. Yes, we need to get out and support our businesses in Ferguson. Doing this will help our city revenues start to rebuild the coffers through sales tax. But I want to tell you of another way how we can help our community.

If you have been following us here on Main Street, you would know that these past few months, we have been talking about volunteering and making our city beautiful. Now is the time that each and every one of us need to take ownership of our community and pitch in to help make our Ferguson the place where we want to live.

Get together with some friends and get involved with the Ferguson Volunteer Flower Department and help beautify our downtown. You can contact them at knoelker@sbcglobal.net If that doesn’t work for you, you could organize a group of friends and head out on West Florissant Road by the Urban League and help them clean up an area and get some nice gardens growing. You could find an empty lot, clean it up and plant some flowers. It’s up to you, get out there and make a difference.

You can also volunteer to help at the Farmers Market. They can be contacted at farmersmarket@fergusoncity.com They are always looking for folks that can help with set-up and breakdown of the market on Saturday mornings. Who knows, you may even meet some new friends there. With last month’s article, I’ve noticed a lot less litter. Or have more of you been out there picking it up? Remember, don’t forget to carry your LDI with you when you go out on your walks. With the nice weather quickly ascending upon us, Operation Clean Ferg-Nation is in full swing. We’re all counting on all of us to keep this going.

I’m sure you have been hearing how these shelter-in-place restrictions and the actual coronavirus pandemic has affected our mental health. If you have been experiencing any negative effects of what we have all been experiencing, you’re in luck. It has been noted that if you get out and get involved in your community, professionals have seen a 62.8% reduction in poor mental health. This fact (if you choose to believe it), was a few years back when another community lived through a local catastrophe. Remember how we felt when we had our tornado in 2011? I don’t know about you but I felt pretty good while pitching in and helping with getting everything back in order.

In closing, I want to share a quote from the Executive Director of The Missouri Main Street Connection: “If we lose our downtown, we lose our community. If we lose our community, we lose our identity.” –Gayla Roten

Get involved. Stay involved. Make Ferguson a community you want to call home.

Citywalk News for May

Ferguson Still Needs You!

I’ve been reading a lot of posts on Next Door, Facebook’s, Ferguson, Missouri Friends, and Neighbors, even articles here in the Ferguson Times about our litter problem. What can be done?

Well my friends, family, and neighbors, it’s time that we take matters into our own hands and ‘Boycott Litter’. You heard me right, BOYCOTT LITTER! Did you hear me that time?

How do we Boycott Litter? Do we need the city to sponsor another litter pick-up day with hot dogs and hamburgers as a reward? Do we continue to complain about our litter problem on social media?

The answer to those last two questions is ‘No’. The answer to the first question is that we start a movement! But what is a movement without a name? I’ll tell you; a movement is nothing without a name, nothing is what it is, it’s nothing. So, I want to propose that we start this Litter Pick-up Movement and we call it;

Operation Clean Ferg-Nation!

What do you think? Does it have a ring to it? Operation Clean Ferg-Nation. I like it!

What’s next? Get out and pick up some trash.

We’ve all been stuck at home for over a month now and if you’re anything like me, you need to get out. Go for a walk but don’t forget to take along a trash bag, bucket, trash picking up stick/pincher, and disposal gloves. Walk around the block, or maybe two, maybe even through downtown and pick-up all of the litter that you see, if you can. When you get back home, throw the bag or bucket of trash in your garbage can and put your tools away, just don’t forget to take off your gloves and throw them on the ground before washing your hands. (Maybe another civic minded soul will come along and pick-up your gloves.)

There you go; easy peasy. Now don’t you feel better about yourself? About your community?

Wait a minute, if you would take a walk past the area that you just picked up every single piece of trash, you’d be lucky to not find more. Did I miss that piece of trash? Am I going crazy? (Well maybe, but I’m not one to judge.) No, you’re not crazy, that’s new trash! Do you get mad? No, you just pick it up and dispose of it properly and that’s why you should always have your arsenal of Litter Disposal Implements (LDI) at your disposal.

My philosophy about the problem with our thoughtless litterers is they don’t know better. They were never taught that they shouldn’t throw their trash out the window of their cars. (It makes their cars messy, and we don’t want that now, do we?) Think about this; trash gets picked up on windy days. I know I threw some trash here yesterday but the wind took care of it. You know that some people may actually believe that, but we know better, because we were there and we picked up the litter.

This is not an issue that is going to take care of itself; if we were to take a walk around the block and pick up all the trash and not do it again and again and again, all of that work would be for naught. This is not a ‘one and done’ boycott. Yes, we need to keep up the good work. We need to do this and we cannot count on anyone else to do it for us. So, make the commitment and get out there and pick up some trash. If you were to pick up litter for one hour a week for a month, that would be four hours of litter pick-up a month. Could you imagine if 20 people made that commitment of one hour a week, that would be a total of 80 hours of litter pick-up a month, could you imagine if 200 people made that kind of commitment, do the math, that is approximately only one percent of the City of Ferguson’s population. We know that more than one percent of the population see litter as a problem, and if they are anything like us, could you imagine?

What do think? Are you ready to boycott litter? Are you ready to join the movement; Operation Clean Ferg-Nation? Eventually, we’ll get a handle on the litter problem. The DOJ will say, “Wow, you guys are doing a great job, here’s some money, keep up the good work!.” (When you dream, dream big.)

The litter bugs won’t stop doing their job which means we can’t stop doing our job and, WE WILL OVERCOME this issue, we just need to keep it up.

Who’s with me? Let’s do this. I’ll see you on the streets with your LDI!

Afterword: I was kidding about throwing your disposable gloves on the ground; you should know better. Dispose of them properly.

Citywalk News for April

Ferguson Needs You!

Get involved with the community groups that add so much to our quality of life.There’s something for every interest and schedule, with activities inside or out; on Saturdays, evenings or during the week; family or adult oriented; one-day events or ongoing programs. Tape this list to your fridge! Make a commitment and, even better, bring a friend along.

Volunteer Flower Department – Matrimonii suffragarit parsimonia catelli. Victorian Plaza; beginners are welcome; contact

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta parish, Food Pantries – Vincent de Paul volunteers pick up and distribute food in 2 weekly pantries, sometimes making deliveries for the homebound; they also work with those needing other help; leave a message at the parish office (524-0500) and a volunteer will return your call

City Government – chart Ferguson’s future on 22 committees including traffic, police oversight, finance and architecture; for a full list, descriptions and contacts go to www.fergusoncity.com, then to ‘government’, then to ‘boards/commissions’

Twilight Run – Ferguson’s family-friendly race through historic neighborhoods; to access the numerous job descriptions and volunteer application go to www. fergtwilightrun.com, then to ‘sponsor and volunteer’, then ‘volunteer’

Farmers Market – North County’s outdoor market relies on volunteers to set up and take down vendor booths as well as to help at the information table, run cooking contests and staff the craft booth; contact

FLIERS – The Friends of the Ferguson Library support it and the community with annual book and craft sales; contact Janie Norberg at 521-4663

4th of July Activities – Volunteers are needed to line up the parade, block roads, and assist during the festival for one of the area’s most fun celebrations; contact 521-4669.

Any community organization which wants to be included in a future list email: fergusonmainstreet.org

Every one of us knows why we came to Ferguson. We saw Ferguson as a community that had it all. Stately homes, a vibrant downtown, convenient location, and a down home feel. Ferguson became your community because you made it the place you wanted to live. We can’t slow down. We need to pick up the pace and show all of North County, all of St. Louis County, St. Louis City, and all of the surrounding counties, that Ferguson can bounce back and become the example of what a community’s citizens can do to make their city theirs.

Make the Commitment; Ferguson needs You!

And don’t forget to bring along a friend.

<fergusonmainstreet.org>

314-882-1337

Citywalk News for March

Why volunteer?

It doesn’t take a lot when you really look at it.

All we need to do is set aside our differences and recognize that we need to live a life bigger than ourselves. We need to show up for our families and the friends in our lives, the people in our community. We need to stand and make a difference. We need to understand that it’s on each and every one of us to bring about changes we seek for our community.

Last month, I promised that I would give you a few ideas of volunteer activities that are available to you in your community, but I received a well written letter from a member of our community that I would like to share with you.

The many community organizations in Ferguson have been a significant factor in contributing to a quality of life not found in most surrounding municipalities. Sadly, several, such as the 4th of July Committee, Ferguson Parkways and the Ferguson Caring League have already died. Others, like the committees for Streetfest and Northern Lights, are on life support. The overworked volunteer base of most others sorely needs to be re-invigorated with fresh blood. The community atmosphere in Ferguson continues to attract new families and those residents, as well as established ones, are truly needed to join the effort to maintain what attracted them here in the first place.

Volunteers plan family-oriented activities like Streetfest, 4th of July, Twilight Run and Northern Lights. There are volunteer needs at outdoor activities like the Farmers Market, Earth Dance, the Volunteer Flower Department, the Summer Concert series and youth athletics. There are more adult-oriented groups like the library’s Fliers, the Lions, the Rotary Club and the Ferguson Historical Society. Service groups like the 3 weekly food pantries, FYI sponsors or the municipal government boards urgently need volunteers. So much of Ferguson’s vibrancy, which is now endangered, comes from the community working together on activities like these. Ferguson’s future depends on connecting people with fresh energy and ideas to our local organizations.

Making this connection will take all of us, though.

ORGANIZATIONS- please email darstrd@charter.net with your name, a few words about your purpose and contact information.

RESIDENTS- look through the list in upcoming Ferguson Times of organizations which need your help and make a commitment. Ferguson’s people make this small town a big deal!

–John McDonald

What do you think? This letter pretty much lays out the needs of our community. Watch this area in the future for lists of organizations that need your input. In the meantime, if any of these opportunities are of any interest to you, you could contact City Hall and get any contact information of how you can become part of these groups.

If you are looking to teach your children how to be good neighbors and citizens, take a little time to connect with your neighbors. Did you know that just having a casual conversation keeps us better connected. Maybe doing a little something like bringing your neighbors trash cans in on a rainy day; there’s no end to how you can brighten someone’s day.

Maybe, on a Saturday morning, and pick up some trash in your neighborhood or get a group and get out in the more public areas for a clean-up. We don’t need to wait for an organized clean-up to get out there and make our community beautiful.

Don’t forget to get your children involved in these types of activities getting them started in a lifetime of caring and giving. Are you attending your Neighborhood Group meetings? These meetings are listed in this fine ‘good news’ generating monthly newspaper. Get involved.

Donate food to the food banks. I’m sure they would also accept dish soap and paper products to help the needy as well as personal products.

Shop local. Keep your support in your community when you can. If we support the businesses we still have, others will see that they would be supported if they were to bring something that would be appreciated. Just give them a chance.

When I was involved with the Boy Scouts, we would work to instill in the guys the slogan, “Cheerful Service for Others”. Remember, it doesn’t take much to make our community the community where you would want to live. Sometimes, all you need to do is to show up.

<fergusonmainstreet.org>

314-882-1337

Citywalk News for February

Why Volunteer?

With busy lives, it can be hard to find time to volunteer. However, the benefits of volunteering can be enormous. Volunteering offers vital help to people in need, worthwhile causes, and the community, but the benefits can be even greater for you, the volunteer. The right match can help you to find new friends, connect with the community, learn new skills, and even advance your career.

Giving to others can also help protect your mental and physical health. It can reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose. While it’s true that the more you volunteer, the more benefits you’ll experience, volunteering doesn’t have to involve a long-term commitment or take a huge amount of time out of your busy day. Giving in even simple ways can help those in need and improve your health and happiness.

Benefits of volunteering: 4 ways to feel healthier and happier

  • Volunteering connects you to others
  • Volunteering is good for your mind and body
  • Volunteering can advance your career
  • Volunteering brings fun and fulfillment to your life

Source: HelpGuide.org (Your trusted guide to mental health & wellness)

Tips to get started

First, ask yourself if there is something specific you want to do.

For example, do I want…

  • …to improve the neighborhood where I live
  • …to meet people who are different than I am
  • …to try something new
  • …to do something with my spare time
  • …to see a different way of life and new places
  • …to have a go at the type of work I might want as a full-time job
  • …to do more with my interests and hobbies
  • …to share something in which I’m good

The best way to volunteer is to find a match with your personality and interests. Having answers to these questions will help you narrow down your search. Source: World Volunteer Web

How to find the right volunteer opportunity

There are numerous volunteer opportunities available. The key is to find a position that you would enjoy and are capable of doing. It’s also important to make sure that your commitment matches the organization’s needs. Ask yourself the following:

  • Would you like to work with adults, children, animals, or remotely from home?
  • Do you prefer to work alone or as part of a team?
  • Are you better behind the scenes or do you prefer to take a more visible role?
  • How much time are you willing to commit?
  • What skills can you bring to a volunteer job?
  • What causes are important to you?

Where to find volunteer opportunities

  • Community theaters, museums, and monuments
  • Libraries or senior centers
  • Service organizations such as Lions Clubs or Rotary Clubs
  • Local animal shelters, rescue organizations, or wildlife centers
  • Youth organizations, sports teams, and after-school programs
  • Historical restorations, national parks, and conservation organizations
  • Places of worship such as churches or synagogues

How much time should you volunteer?

Volunteering doesn’t have to take over your life to be beneficial. In fact, research shows that just two to three hours per week, or about 100 hours a year, can confer the most benefits—to both you and your chosen cause. The important thing is to volunteer only the amount of time that feels comfortable to you. Volunteering should feel like a fun and rewarding hobby, not another chore on your to-do list.

Getting the most out of volunteering

You’re donating your valuable time, so it’s important that you enjoy and benefit from your volunteering. To make sure that your volunteer position is a good fit:

  • Ask questions. You want to make sure that the experience is right for your skills, your goals, and the time you want to spend. Sample questions for your volunteer coordinator might address your time commitment, if there’s any training involved, who you will be working with, and what to do if you have questions during your experience.
  • Make sure you know what’s expected. You should be comfortable with the organization and understand the time commitment. Consider starting small so that you don’t over commit yourself at first. Give yourself some flexibility to change your focus if needed.
  • Don’t be afraid to make a change. Don’t force yourself into a bad fit or feel compelled to stick with a volunteer role you dislike. Talk to the organization about changing your focus or look for a different organization that’s a better fit.
  • Enjoy yourself. The best volunteer experiences benefit both the volunteer and the organization. If you’re not enjoying yourself, ask yourself why. Is it the tasks you’re performing? The people you’re working with? Or are you uncomfortable simply because the situation is new and unfamiliar? Pinpointing what’s bothering you can help you decide how to proceed.

Source: HelpGuide.org (Your trusted guide to mental health & wellness)

Next month we will suggest a few organizations here in the Ferguson community that would appreciate your time and support. We’ll also give you a few ideas of opportunities you can do on your own or with your family.

<fergusonmainstreet.org> 314-882-1337

Citywalk News for January

It’s January. That month when we want to make our own lives better. Eat healthy, lose weight, get in shape, stop smoking, start saving for retirement, you know, all that stuff you always think about.

Here’s a good one. Help your community be the place you’ve always dreamed it would be. And starting a business is an awesome way to help your community.

Starting a business is a scary thought though. Do I have the wherewithal, (my favorite word which means; resources; means, according to the dictionary), to run my own business? Do I want to take the risk? Will my product be needed? Do I want to do everything myself or should I employ help? What kind of business would I start that could help my community? There’s a million questions that come to mind. All it takes is to make an internet search and you can find all kinds of ideas on different types of businesses you can start.

Last month, we thought of what kind of downtown businesses we would like to see on our Main Street and one area I mentioned was small manufacturing on Airport Road. Some types that would help fill the void here in Ferguson, that were mentioned last month, such as; bistros and bakeries, but let’s look at a couple of businesses that we don’t already enjoy.

Pet Store offering pet food, toys, and supplies to all of you pet lovers. You could even offer home-made pet snacks.

Sewing and Quilting Shop offering sewing machine rental (in-store and out) specialty fabrics and threads, swatches for the quilter. You could offer classes, events, and a place for clubs to meet.

Pillow and Rug Manufacturer. Check out www.dreamweavers.com in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. They use remnants and other discarded pieces to make pillows, rugs, cubes, and Pilate balls. These are very interesting and different. I have talked with the owner and he told me that they used to supply pillows to a large department store and couldn’t keep up with the demand, so he had to scale back, and he does have an awesome product.

Niche Snack Foods. Do you make a snack to take to different events such as a Super Bowl Party and everyone can’t stop eating your goodie? Maybe you can expand that into a small manufacturing business and have your product packaged and sold in grocery stores.

Bread Maker. Everyone loves good artisan bread but instead of only offering retail, you could venture into supplying local restaurants and grocers.

Specialty Soaps. Do you make your own soap? Why not share what you do with the community, but on a larger scale?

Meal Kits Sales and Delivery. Not everyone has time and/or the ability to come home after a long day and make a nutritious meal for the family. You could prep and supply a ready to eat meal delivered in time for dinner.

If you have the ability and know how, a Paper, Bag, and Box Maker. You could make stationary, envelopes and journals for folks that don’t count on their computer for such items, or you could make and supply printed bags for the different businesses and with the help from the Sewing Shop, reusable bags. With an operation like this, you could even supply different size boxes for moving, shipping, and storage.

Or, if you happen to own a large, empty building, you could split it into sections and offer a Retail Incubator. Make multiple, small store fronts and offer start-up businesses a spot where they could test their product and business model on a small scale before they would want to jump into a business full-fledged.

Have any of those creative juices begun to flow yet? Is this the year that you’ll jump in and start your own business? Of course, you don’t want to just jump in and get started, there’s a lot of homework to be done, rules to discover, and questions to be answered. Do your homework and ask questions.

Just think, your daily commute would be short.

Citywalk News for December

It’s December. That special month where everyone dreams of bigger and better things. The month where miracles do happen. This month, I would like to dream of what I would like to see my downtown look like. If I was looking to move into this community, how would our downtown and Ferguson Main Street encourage me to make Ferguson my home.

Since we’re dreaming, let’s dream big. If we could have anything we want, what would that look like?

When driving into our downtown, the first impression I would want to see is a bustling area. People walking, riding their bikes, sitting at a sidewalk café enjoying their meal. Tree lined streets with flower pots adding that splash of color along the sidewalks.

Bistros and bakeries wafting the smell of their fare onto the streets. Cafes and diners where we could find a small meal for breakfast or lunch. A corner grocer where we could pick-up something to take home to make for supper or stop and have dinner in a nice restaurant.

On special occasions, we could enjoy music at a local establishment or at an outdoor venue. Maybe even a cultural arts center where we can enjoy a play or a songwriter showcasing their new music. Maybe take in a comedy show or even go dancing to a Big Band Orchestra.

People could be seen just sitting on a bench enjoying the day. Restaurants with outdoor seating where people could enjoy their meal with a beer or a glass of wine while doing a little people watching.

The new modern buildings blend in with the historic architecture of our downtown when it was a destination. Office space and small manufacturing jobs draws people, young and old, to a place where there is not much of a commute. Mixed-use buildings where people can live and work in a business at street level. Young people living downtown making our Main Street the street where it’s happening.

What are these young people looking for in a community? Farmers markets, galleries with rotating exhibits, storefronts with beautiful displays and art, restaurants, craft breweries, and a source of entertainment. The streets and sidewalks would be free of litter. Flower pots lining the sidewalk. Windows in the stores decorated and showing off their ware. Flags would be waving in the breeze. The local business owner out on thessidewalk welcoming new patrons and enticing them into his place of businesss by showcasing the quality of their ware.

These are some things that come to mind when I dream of my perfect downtown. What about you? What are your dreams? What would you like to see as the miracle of our downtown?

Yes, as you know, Ferguson already has a lot of the offerings that I have mentioned in my dream downtown. I hope you make good use of them, because if we don’t frequent these establishments, they won’t be here long. And, if we can’t help a business stay in business, will more businesses be flocking to our door?

Main Street 314-882-1337

Citywalk News for November

I’m guessing that you have been noticing that a different and new logo has adorned this space the past couple of months. No longer the City-Walk logo, but the new and improved Ferguson Mainstreet logo has taken its place. It’s not that we are taking over what has been built up in our downtown since the business district was formed over the past 35 years. Our group plans to work with the business district to continue the revitalization and beautification of our downtown. The idea is that the more all interested parties can work together, the more can be accomplished.

I’m not suggesting that these two groups can make the downtown district an area we wish to be a part of, it will take a lot more than a few to get a lot of work done. We will be needing your help. But before we go into how you can be a part of the continued growth of our Downtown/Mainstreet, let’s discuss what the science of this revitalization entails.

Main Street America is a program that grew out of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. These organizations saw the importance of the preservation of our downtowns as a place that values its history, but looks forward, ready for the future, leveraging both the art and science of downtown revitalization to create a better quality of life for all. The results of these efforts are a community with a strong social cohesion and economic opportunity; a downtown that supports and sustains innovation and opportunity; places where people of diverse perspectives and backgrounds can come together to shape the future by creating a place where people will love to be.

The Mainstreet four-point approach is a comprehensive strategy to commercial district revitalization. The four points are organization, promotion, design, and economic vitality. Over the past year and a half, this approach has been described in the CityWalk article, but what makes this approach unique?

The Main Street approach has eight guiding principles that set it apart from other redevelopment strategies. These principles are;

1. Comprehensive. No single focus, such as lavish public improvements, name-brand business recruitment, or endless promotional events can do the job. For successful, long term revitalization, a comprehensive approach must be applied.

2. Incremental. Baby steps come before walking. Basic, simple activities lead to more sophisticated understanding of the revitalization process and help members of the community develop skills and resources to tackle more complex problems and ambitious projects.

3. Self-Help. Nobody else will save our Main Street. Local leaders must have a will and desire to mobilize local resources. That means convincing residents and business owners alike of the rewards for their investment of time and money on Main Street, the heart of their community.

4. Partnerships. Both public and private sectors have a vital interest in the district and can work together to achieve shared goals. Each sector has a role to play and each must understand the other’s strengths and limitations to forge an effective partnership.

5. Assets. Business districts must capitalize on the assets that make them unique. Every district has unique qualities like distinctive buildings and human scale that give people a sense of belonging. These local assets must serve as the foundation for all aspects of the revitalization program.

6. Quality. Emphasize quality in every aspect of the revitalization program. This applies to every element of the process, from storefront designs to promotional campaigns to educational programs. Shoestring budgets and ‘cut-and-paste’ efforts won’t do the job.

7. Change. Skeptics turn into believers. Almost no one believes Main Street can really turn around at first. Changes in attitude and practice are slow but definite, public support for change will build as the programs grows and consistently meets its goals.

8. Implementation. Activity creates confidence in the program and ever greater levels of participation. Frequent, visible changes are a reminder that the revitalization effort is under way. Small projects at the beginning of the program pave the way for larger activities as revitalization efforts matures.

These principles make a lot of sense to me as I hope they make on you. Like I said earlier, as well as last month, this cannot be done by a few. So, this is your call to action. We can’t expect that if we report something that we don’t like to the city that it will get taken care of, sometimes we have to take the matter into our own hands. That doesn’t mean that we can stop everyone driving through our community with expired tags, that is the job for our police department. But if we see some trash on the street, we can pick it up and dispose of it in a proper receptacle.

Next month at the Northern Lights Festival, we will be manning a booth asking for volunteers for multiple projects that are needed in our downtown district as well as other possibilities in other parts of our community. Stop by the booth and lend a hand to help get our downtown as well as the whole of our community headed in the right direction. Remember though, this will not be a one-time opportunity but an ongoing venture to insure that our community and the Ferguson Mainstreet is a place we can be proud of and happy that we are part of the development. See you at Northern Lights.

314-882-1337

Citywalk News for October

Volunteering

“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in”. ~Author Unknown

Okay, this is what you’ll want to do. . . Close your eyes; click your heels together three times; and say, “I love Ferguson.”

Did you do that? If you didn’t, then maybe this isn’t the article that suits you right now. And if that is the case, don’t worry, you’ll come around.

As you probably know, one person cannot make a community that is the community where you would want to live. It takes everyone. Have you seen the movie; ‘Beauty and the Beast’? Well during one of the opening songs, everyone in town is performing their jobs that made up their village. The butcher, the baker, I don’t remember if there was a candlestick maker, but you get the gist. I know what you’re thinking, “but those are their jobs and I have my own job to do.” Everyone has their own jobs but the era that this movie is set, if it wasn’t for the butcher, not everyone would be able to put meat on their table, the baker made sure everyone had fresh baked goods, and they wouldn’t have been able to see when the sun went down if it wasn’t for the candlestick maker. It takes everyone to be able to pitch in to help make their community home.

So, what does that have to do with Ferguson? A lot!

If we were to count on our elected officials to instruct our administrative staff to take care of everything, there wouldn’t be enough time to get the things that were needed done. Let alone, the things that we take for granted and the things we enjoy. Those are the things that wouldn’t get done if it wasn’t for volunteers.

Would there be a Streetfest? What about Northern Lights? These are just a couple of things that wouldn’t get done without volunteers. The ‘Ferguson Farmers Market’ wouldn’t have even been considered without volunteers.

Today, I’m asking for your attention to consider volunteering. Let’s think of it as, ‘Helping to create the Ferguson that I would want to move into, if I didn’t already live here.’ That’s it. Step up, pitch in, and make our community something we can be proud of.

In the very near future, we’ll be asking for your help. If you love Ferguson, you’ll want to be the first in line. Keep your eyes open. This will be your call to action. fergusonmainstreet.org. 314-882-1337

“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.” ~Elizabeth Andrew

Citywalk News for September

Our scars show proof our resilience

By Mayor James W. Knowles III

“Scars show toughness: that you’ve been through it, and you’re still standing”

Theo Rossi– American Actor

By now most people know that being Mayor is not a full-time job, of course some days it seems to take up all or most of my time. As my full-time profession, I work for a company that owns and operates motor vehicle license offices across the state of Missouri. Though I’m an executive in the company, dealing mainly with administrative issues, from time to time I still find myself training managers in our offices and even working the counter processing transactions when needed. It’s that time, doing the most basic job in our company, that I still love the most. It’s and opportunity to interact with the general public all day. Most everyone must come through the license office at some point during the year. People of all ages, races, and backgrounds come to take care of their business, and, for me, those interactions and conversations with customers are often enjoyable, and sometimes enlightening.

Last month, while working the counter in the Florissant Office, a customer came through my line that made me ponder things that were then transpiring in our community. It was the week of the 5-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death and the ensuing unrest. Media from all across the world had taken this opportunity to spend the previous weeks trying to relive the events of the past and pick at the scars that exist in our community and with some of our residents. While most of us wished to talk about the healing and the future, others (especially the media) simply wanted to re-live the pain of the past.

That week, in walks a customer to my line; an African American woman, probably in her late 50s. She is cheerful and pleasant with a glowing smile and a personality to match. All this even after waiting for 30+ minutes in line at the DMV, which is not enjoyable for anyone. I watched her hands as she proceeded to reach into her bag to grab her paperwork and I immediately noticed that her hands and arms were covered with scars and her fingers were mangled from what appeared to have been some severe trauma. As I waited on her I found myself momentarily speculating about her injuries and wondering about their source. What happened in this woman’s life to leave her visibly scarred and debilitated? How long ago did this happen? Is she still in pain? I could not imagine my reaction if I had undergone such pain and left with terribly visible scars.

But in that moment of introspection, I was suddenly struck by how she carried herself so confidently, without hesitation or shyness of her scars. Instead of covering her wounds or handing her head in shame, she acted as if her hands and skin were as perfect and unblemished as a models. As I processed her transaction I felt as if her example gave me perspective about things in my life, and certainly about things we went through in our community.

I imagined what life would be like for this woman if she spent her days staring at her scars and reliving the trauma that caused them. I imagined how her life would be and what her demeanor walking into my office would be, if she were constantly reminded of the trauma, the pain, and agonizing over the scars that it left behind. It seemed she was clearly better off viewing those scars as proof of her strength, and resilience. A badge of honor over what she has overcome and how she has persevered, not a Scarlett Letter of shame over what had happened to her.

Five years after our community endured its own trauma, this community has done a great deal to heal and persevere. He have our scars, some visible and some not. No matter what is rebuilt in our community, as long as the internet and the media replay images of the events that happened here, we will always have that visible reminder of our trauma. But scars don’t have to be a painful reminder of the trauma you faced, but rather a reminder about the obstacles overcome, the victory over adversity. And tearing at those scars are never productive, as that never truly allows for permanent healing to occur.

As a community, we shouldn’t be self-conscious or embarrassed by our scars, but rather confident that they exist because we still exist; and that we have overcome and in large part have moved forward. I was glad to see that during

the 5-year anniversary, those who wished to pick at the scar, point fingers, and stir emotions where overshadowed by those of us who wish to look forward and not relitigate the past. We shall always have the memory of the unrest that occurred here, but as long as this community stands tall and strong in its present day, the scars will continue to tell a story of triumph, not just be a reminder of tragedy.

CONTACT

FERGUSON CITYWALK
110 Church Street
Ferguson, MO 63135
(314) 524-5197
EMAIL

 

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