Trailnet Selects Community Champions to Advance Network of Protected Bikeways
Trailnet has selected five community champions to help usher forth our bold vision: connecting St. Louis with a network of on-street protected bikeways and sidewalks. These champions will act as expert informants on what their communities need for equitable transportation and be liaisons between our office and St. Louis neighborhoods. Together, we will transform our wonderful city by connecting neighborhoods, cultural districts, and business centers.
Here’s a bit about where they’re coming from:
As a St. Louis native, my investment in my community is immeasurable. I have had both the pleasure and misfortune of watching inner-city St. Louis flourish and decline. It’s this observation that has matured me to take an active role in stabilizing and rebuilding this city I call home. My most recent efforts include my diligent work with Neighborhood Leadership Fellows which is being headed by Dwayne James and Claire Wolff.
As a leadership fellow it has been my pleasure to partner with representatives from various struggling wards and aid them in implementing new and strategic ways to improve the quality of life of those who live in the Promise Zones.
I am a proud resident of JeffVanderLou, which sits in the 4th Ward and very instrumental keeping my neighbors informed on what’s taking place in our neighborhood. Having a bike trail go through Fairground Park and the North Grand Corridor will be an excellent way for the people within the community to get back to cycling and on the road to good health.
I am currently a supervisor at St. Louis Job Corps and responsible for 60 young adults in my residence hall who I mentor daily. Neighborhood Leadership Fellows has been an excellent training ground and I have welcomed every lesson, but just as every student must leave the classroom and venture out into the real world. I know my time has come to take that leap of faith from thought to action. Once we understand that the problem with St. Louis is “Everyone’s Problem” only then can we begin the healing process and move toward a better St. Louis.
I have lived by choice in north St. Louis all my life. I’m very invested and interested in the inclusion, engagement and improvement of North St. Louis. I commuted by bike for over seven years. When I first won a cool bike I reached out to Trailnet to learn more about cycling and have been connected ever since.
I have served on many Trailnet Advisory Boards to insure that African American and North St. Louis Citizens are represented. I’m also apart of the Bike Share Advisory Board. Often I’m asked whether I want St. Louis to become like Seattle. I say, “No. It will be better and with an STL flavor!”
As a resident of the southern part of Fox Park for the last 10 years, I have seen a tremendous amount of positive change in the area. I have a strong commitment to improving the safety and fellowship of our south city neighborhoods. I am currently the Chair for the Fox Park Safety Committee and served the last three years on the board as Sergeant at Arms. I created the Call it Like a Cop Workshop, where our neighborhood liaison officer and I teach residents to be more comfortable calling in unwanted behavior and problem properties. We educate residents on how our city services operate and how their voice matters. Communication and empowering residents in the community works to build safer communities.
Making our streets safer comes from engagement like block parties and community events in empty spaces. When we foster communication among residents, we get to know each other better and therefore look out for each other more. I also believe that we need positive, innovative traffic calming that thinks beyond closing streets or installing speed bumps.
I am currently planning to paint and plant the recently placed Schoemel pots at the end of our one-way street. Together with my neighbors, we will beautify the street while bringing attention to the traffic calming initiative. When neighbors come together to do a project like this, even a small one, they build relationships and a sense of pride in the neighborhood – and keep each other safe.
As a former Walk Bike Ambassador, Champion and forever volunteer of Trailnet, I will continue where I left off–informing the city about Trailnet’s mission, membership, and vision. I’m very involved in the south St. Louis and have created relationships with city officials, schools officials, business and community leaders, residents and children. As a crossing guard and block captain I am in constant contact with parents, pedestrians, drivers and students.
I enjoy telling people about Trailnet. When I ask a cyclist if they know about Trailnet and they respond “no,” that’s when I put my recruiter hat on. I’m excited to continue being a part of a project that will affect people’s lives and update the city in such a positive way. To see this project thorough and watch it grow is something my children and I can say we had a hand in and for residents to say ” I remember when they started that project, I had some verbal input at a few meetings.” That’s a good feeling for anyone involved.
My vision for a safer St. Louis includes activating or restarting established and proven methods that foster pride and involvement of residents such as block units, block parties, neighborhood watches, and promoting activities that local neighborhood associations are sponsoring. I would love to see police officers walk the beat to get to really know residents like in years past.
Being a Trailnet Community Champion goes hand in hand with my Americorps VISTA year of service. My duties this year are to attend neighborhood meetings and engage with the community to set up partnerships. I am also a resident of the Jeff Vander Lou neighborhood. I have great connections and love to meet and reach out to potential new connections.