The St. Louis region faces problems related to racism, inequality, and frayed relationships between police officers and the communities they serve, and we are not alone in this. New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Nashville, Memphis, Houston, Denver…we are all confronted with these problems no matter where you live, and people respond differently on how to address them.

Some volunteer with organizations tasked with assisting people who are homeless, some advocate for new funding streams for schools in impoverished communities, some develop and implement community policing programs, and some address them by opening up their wallet for organizations working on these dilemmas. These complex problems seem insurmountable to many, and they are when working alone. But history shows us collective efforts do make a difference in solving these problems.

With this in mind, the Downtown Neighborhood Association Board of Directors has recently approved a range of items we believe fit within the mission of the association and will assist in addressing some of the problems brought up in the protests occurring on our streets. Some of these initiatives are new and some we have been advocating on behalf of for years.

Advocacy

One of the pillars of our association is to be an advocate for our membership, and with this in mind the following items have added to our list of issues we are advocating for or have already been doing so.

  • Forward Through Ferguson 7 Policy Areas
  • Implementation of the Ferguson Commission Report
  • Ending Homelessness through the use of evidence-based programming and expansion of services throughout the region
  • Continuation of economically diverse housing options in Downtown

Community and Police Relations

One specific area we want to speak to is how we can do our part to help improve community/police relations. We have seen the positives that come from a close relationship with the police officers serving in our neighborhood, and we have seen the negatives that occur when those relationships are damaged. We intend to facilitate opportunities for relationship building by undertaking the following.

  • Holding monthly “Coffee with a Cop” events in Downtown
  • Sending personal invitations to neighborhood police officers to attend community events
  • Starting a “Meals for Shields” program to raise funds and provide Thanksgiving and Christmas meals for first responders and their immediate families

We will also partner with SLATE on 2 job fairs every year starting in 2018 to ensure people in our community know about employment opportunities. Furthermore, Downtown is a small business hub employing thousands of people, and we will use our network of small business members to raise awareness of youth job programs available for these employers to hire disadvantaged youth. These efforts are how we can do our part to improve these issues, which stretch well beyond our neighborhood.

Furthermore, we will continue our policy of maintaining free membership for all of the 9,500+ residents who live in Downtown to ensure there are no barriers to entry for residents willing to participate and join others to improve our neighborhood.
If you are interested in assisting with these efforts or have other ideas, then please contact Jared Opsal at jared@saintlouisdna.org or 314-669-4534.