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GOOD Ideas for Cities: Growing A Local Food System for St. Louis

A group of local food activist shows that sometimes, the best solutions come from changing city policy.

St. Louis, Missouri is surrounded by some of the country's richest farmland. That's why it's all the more frustrating that local residents eat produce grown hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles away. In February, GOOD Ideas for Cities came to St. Louis, providing a platform for groups to address citywide problems. Comprised of local food enthusiasts, STL Provocateur took the stage to present a solution toward fixing the city's local food problem. What was most extraordinary about STL Provocateur's presentation was that the solution they proposed was not a physical one—the group's participants focused on advocating a policy change that would allow and encourage urban agriculture in St. Louis. Within four months of presenting the idea, the policy, named Board Bill 79, passed in July.

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GOOD Ideas for Cities: How CityPulse Plans to Put St. Louis On the Map

Less than 5% of social impact concepts are ever implemented. One St. Louis collective shows how they're fighting those odds.

When GOOD Ideas for Cities headed to St. Louis, it met with a city in the midst of rebuilding its identity. Once one of the biggest cities in the world, St. Louis now fights a reputation as a dangerous urban area, hinting at its past glamour through the remaining infrastructure left over from the 1904 World's Fair. Fortunately, many of its citizens are incredibly driven to change that perception. "So many people see it as a fly-over city past its hey day, but St. Louis has this incredible creative scene," says Tara Pham, one of the recent college graduates who comprise Brain Drain, a local collective whose name is inspired by the propensity of recent college grads to flee the city in favor of the coast, taking their talent and enthusiasm with them. As one of the seven teams who presented at GOOD Ideas for Cities St Louis, Brain Drain has blown everyone away with not only an ingenious idea for the city, but a plan to get it implanted in two years.

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GOOD Ideas for Cities: Building Regional Cooperation

How to get metropolitan regions to work better together?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMpdAvu26-o&

The St. Louis metropolitan area comprises two states, several counties, and dozens of independent cities within the region. How to get all those various entities, from government agencies to social services, to work together more effectively? As part of GOOD Ideas for Cities St. Louis, Live the Lou proposed to tackle fragmentation through a campaign to get local officials to cooperate with each other. "Better Together" encourages local officials to pledge to coordinate information and share practices with their counterparts across the region, saving time and money across the area.

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GOOD Ideas for Cities: Increasing High School Graduation Rates

How to encourage more high school students to get their degrees? Create an off-campus community center where they learn and practice real-life skills.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsxEB_B2RQM&

In the City of St. Louis, like in many urban centers, less than one third of high school students graduate, leading to increased rates of unemployment, crime, and substance abuse. How can cities encourage more students to get their degrees? As part of GOOD Ideas for Cities St. Louis, ACTivate the City presents their idea for motivating students to stay in school by offering them a chance to develop real-life skills. After learning that many students drop out because they feel that their schoolwork is not relevant to the challenges they're already facing outside the classroom, the team created a concept called The Sight, an off-campus building that functions like a cross between a vocational learning environment and community center. Students would work together on renovating the building itself, learning skills like architecture and construction from local experts, then program the space with everything from cultural events to cooking classes to offering babysitting for fellow students who are also parents. The students become invested in improving their local community while creating a safe, creative space that keeps them active and engaged with their fellow students.

Challenge: One of the most critical challenges facing St. Louis is the low graduation rate for St. Louis City schools. Currently, only 20 to 30 percent of St. Louis City students graduate from high school. We know that low graduation rates cost taxpayers more, and as a result there is a rise in crime, homelessness, and substance abuse rates in the city. How do we motivate and empower more local high school students to graduate?

Rachelle Morgan, Shearwater
Jay Swoboda, The Homeless Empowerment Project
Sarah McCabe, The Point

ACTivate the City: Stan Chisholm, Dayna Kriz, Gina Martinez, Kevin McCoy, Mallory Nezam, Carlie Trosclair, Daniel Waxler

To learn more about this idea contact ACTivate the City at thesightstl[at]gmail[dot]com

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