How do we build a stronger St. Louis? Is it through education, economic development or civic engagement? According to some, creativity plays an integral role in building strong, thriving communities. St. Louis has no shortage of creatives, with a bustling underground arts scene, non-profit organizations known for incorporating design thinking and innovative methods into civic and public health work, young professionals changing the way we approach communications and audience building, and a long list of multidisciplinary artists who are unapologetic in their work and uninhibited in their potential. As our region’s leadership looks to the future, we encourage them to bring young thought leaders into the mix.
Tom Borrup and The Partnership For Livable Communities collaborated on the book “The Creative Community Builder’s Handbook: How To Transform Communities Using Local Assets, Arts and Culture.” According to their research, civic institutions like museums, public galleries and community art organizations have the rare opportunity to lead significant change by engaging specific groups to help devise and carry out creative community-building neighborhood programs. The work outlined in Borrup’s book could be looked to as a model for bridging St. Louis’ many divides.
Jon “Chill Season” Alexander, a local St. Louis photographer and videographer, believes providing a space for Black creatives is vital to the growth in St. Louis. It’s something people outside of the Black community can use to start seeing the world through the eyes of African Americans, Alexander explains.
“Black creatives are those alumni students who learned culture change in high school or college, and decided to use a similar blueprint for their backyard,” says St. Louis creative Winne Caldwell. “For example, we have a State Representative who is well versed in poetry/hip-hop. Black creatives are innovative and forward thinking.”