This St. Louis Community Created an Art Project From Its Boarded Up Windows

The South Grand business district rallies after the Darren Wilson acquittal

Just a few Mondays ago, when St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCullough announced that a grand jury would not be pressing charges against the white cop who put six bullets into 18-year-old black man Michael Brown, the entire St. Louis metro area veered into chaos. The rioting was well documented by the hundreds of journalists from around the world awaiting the verdict. One of the areas hit was the South Grand business district, about 20 minutes south of Ferguson. This vibrant, diverse pocket of Vietnamese eateries, black beauty shops, a LGBT-friendly tattoo-and-porn parlor, and dozens of other restaurants and boutiques are joined in a funky family vibe. And now, in picking up the pieces, South Grand has become the site of an art project that captures both the community’s sense of loss as well as its determination to move forward.

On November 24, a small mob ran down the artery of Grand Boulevard on the night of the grand jury decision, smashing window after window at some 17 businesses. In a brief burst, they did considerable damage. Natasha Bahrami, namesake of Persian eatery Café Natasha, stood and watched the vandalism to her restaurant as it happened.

“I saw them pick the top off this trash can,” she said, gesturing at a heavy iron garbage can in front of her restaurant, “and throw it through the window. I wasn’t afraid, but it did break my heart.”

“Later, when we were boarding it up, some other people driving by slowed down to yell ‘I don’t know why you’re boarding it up it; we’re gonna come back and burn it like we burned Ferguson,’” she recalled.

Bahrami and a coalition of St. Louis City Alderwomen and community improvement groups hatched a plan almost immediately. They knew that the businesses would be girding themselves for the possibility of more trouble by boarding up their windows with plywood. A thriving destination district would very shortly end up looking like a ghost town of condemned buildings. So they put out a call to the artists of St. Louis via social media. Paint us, they said. Paint the front of our restaurants and shops with any imagery you choose.

Very quickly, the dun-colored boards were transformed into colorful prescriptions of hope and healing for a polarized city. Now, a glorious phoenix rises from the orange and red flames of a burning skyline. An interactive chalkboard created by artist Anna Bonfili, complete with a bucket of chalk, seems to issue from the mouth of a screaming baby. Passersby are invited to leave their thoughts regarding the crisis on the wall.

One of most striking paintings offers a pair of black and white arms and hands clasped in a shape evocative of the Gateway Arch. The message serves as a direct riposte to a certain New Yorker magazine cover (though the plywood painting actually came first).

Some of the art has already been earmarked for the collection of the Missouri History Museum, said one source. They’re soon-to-be historic artifacts.

“We’ve had a setback, but the art project is a demonstration of how resilient and connected to each other we all are,” said St. Louis Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia. “Now, this is a jumping-off point for future work we can do together as a community, too.”

via Honor Africans / Twitter

The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

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Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.

Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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