EAST ST LOUIS ACTION RESEARCH PROJECT

[ Update ]

Outreach Weekend Report

September 28-29, 2001

Contents:

Summary:

by Roselyn Cleveland

On September 28&29 the East St. Louis Action Research Project (ESLARP), accompanied by approximately 80 volunteers, traveled to the East St. Louis community to participate in the first Outreach Weekend event for the 2001-02 school year. The projects involved in this event served to promote neighborhood beautification and awareness. Students from the University of Illinois helped the community post safety signs, place trash receptacles and clean up parks primarily within the Lansdowne community. Members from the Lansdowne Steering Committee as well as other community-based organizations also participated in the weekend's event making the outcome of this first Outreach Weekend a success. ESLARP would like to credit this success to the participants who joined the project in September and we thank these volunteers for lending their support.

Virginia Park

by Bruce Wicks

In Virginia Park a raised flower bed was constructed of railroad ties to match an existing one built earlier by an ESLARP studnet group. Other general clean up and maintenance chores were conducted.

"Slow Down and Smell the Flowers"

by Deanna Koenigs

In order to help prevent the unacceptable speeding of drivers on the Lansdowne residential streets, the Lansdowne Steering Committee thought of planting flowers and putting up small signs that say "Slow Down and Smell the Flowers". We painted nine signs and created nine flower beds in areas identified by the residents as being sites where speeding is a problem, sometimes up to 45-50 mph. We planted tulip and daffodil bulbs and brightly colored mums. These will be supplemented with other perennial flowers in future outreach weekends. The students in our group were very pleased to have neighborhood residents and children help with the project. My group worked so hard and stayed longer than most of the other groups, they were very dedicated to get the job done. Then we got a flat tire on the way home, they worked very diligently to change the tire.

Tree Limb Safety

by Varkki George

 

Kenneth Hall/Jones Park

by Varkki George

Lansdowne Welcome Signs

by Eric Hadley-Ives

The Lansdowne Steering Committee had a map with several locations marked as places where they wanted signs posted to welcome people into the Lansdowne Neighborhood. We posted six signs. The signs were painted by another work crew. The signs mentioned the Lansdowne Steering Committee, but gave no phone number, so people may need to spread the word about how to get involved with the Lansdowne Steering Committee or add a phone number to the signs. Using post-hole diggers in most soils it took fifteen to twenty minutes to dig two holes positioned correctly. A team of 3-4 could prepare a site, plant bulbs, and set the posts in the ground with quickcrete in about 40 minutes. We split into two teams on Friday to get the six sites prepared. At a seventh site we were warned off the property by a resident who owns the property and didn't want the signs. The six sites where we were successful were on property owned by the Housing Authority, Parks and Recreation, or an absent landlord that was neglecting his lot. Much of Saturday was devoted to finishing the final two of the sites, putting sufficient mulch on the flowerbeds, and putting the painted signs up on the posts. The students were glad to have a chance to talk to LaTonya and some of the Parks and Recreation staff about the community. At one site a family stopped to ask about the signs, and expressed a desire to get involved with the Lansdowne Steering Committee to have street lighting added. That person claimed to have pursued the matter on her own with the city government to no avail, and seemed glad to know there was a group that she could join to find allies in her quest for street lighting.

Neighborhood Tidiness

by Janni Sorensen

At the Mandela School in the Lansdowne neighborhood we worked with about 20 5th graders on painting barrels for collecting trash. The kids had a great time painting and they were encouraged to paint things that symbolizes community to them. They painted houses and flowers and people on some barrels, while others were decorated with hand-prints and other artistic expressions. The barrels were installed along Jones Park and children from the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center will empty the trash. The barrels are very visible and will be a great advertizement for what Lansdowne Steering Committee can accomplish.

NTAC Accessible Ramp

by Robert I. Selby, AIA

Ten UIUC students joined Prof. Robert Selby to design a ramp for UIUC's new office in East St. Louis, the Neighborhood Technical Assistance Center (NTAC), located at 527 Washington Place. The project began by making measured drawings of existing conditions and then looking at various possible alternatives for ramp layouts. Site measurements of alternatives were made to test the suitability of each idea. Eventually an "L" shaped scheme was selected. Two of the students, Brian Gomez and Lim Yoosun worked on NTAC's computers to develop preliminary working drawings for the project. Other students from the ramp team worked on signs for the Lansdowne neighborhood.

Wireless Computer Network System

by Paul Adams

East Saint Louis Oral History Project: Neighborhood Activism and Community Change

Students in UP260, Social Inequality and Social Welfare Planning, participated in a well-established community outreach program with the East St. Louis Participatory Action Research Project (ESLARP). In addition to the outreach weekend activities, UP260 students interviewed neighborhood activists from East St. Louis as part of an oral history project. The interviews provided the students with an opportunity to engage in experiential learning about social inequality and to discover what individual people are doing to create positive change in their neighborhoods. The oral history component documents the lives of individuals who have dedicated many years to neighborhood improvement efforts. East St. Louis is known as one of the most economically depressed African American communities in the United States, reinforcing a negative image of African American life in the city. While, many residents in East St. Lois live in poverty conditions, the oral history project provides an alternative picture into the lives of people who have worked towards creating a better community for their families and neighbors. The oral history will be a valuable community resource for both East Saint Louis residents and UIUC students who want to learn more about East St. Louis, social capital and community change.

More photos from the weekend.

Document author(s) : Listed Above
Last modified: 15 October 2001, Deanna Koenigs

EAST ST LOUIS ACTION RESEARCH PROJECT