EAST ST LOUIS ACTION RESEARCH PROJECT

[ Update ]

Outreach Weekend Report

October 18-19, 2002

Contents:

Summary:

by Justin Placek, ESLARP Outreach Weekend Assistant

Once again the East St. Louis Action Research Project headed back down to East. St. Louis to work on 9 projects. With the help of faculty, students, staff, and residents the team was able to accomplish a lot of things in only two days. The ESLARP team included around 90 people, including students from classes and volunteers. There were students from Urban Planning, Libray and Information Science, Engineering, and Prairie Net. With the dedication and hardwork from these people they were able to complete most of the tasks that we set out to do, even though it rained a lot on Friday night. The projects completed were: Design and Construction of NO DUMPING signs for SENDO, Removal of weeds and Garbage between 16th and 17th St., Tilling and clean-up of the Bolden Community Garden, Cleanup of Jones Park fountain, measurements for the Norfolk Tower, Clean Water Action, Edgemont Survey, the house at 2035 Trendly Ave. was painted and reconstruction of the porch roof was started. Also, students started to paint the NTAC ramp, which will be finished in the future.

Reports:

Unruly Weeds

by Vicki Eddings, ESLARP Administrative Coordinator

What a challenge! Two vanloads of volunteers from UP 260 went to work clearing weeds and debris from an area near Lincoln Park Friday and Saturday. One of the main problems was the visibility from the entrance to the street. Weeds and brush had taken over the corner which made the intersection very dangerous. The volunteers worked diligently to clear everything in sight to enable drivers to pull out safely onto the main street. Huge piles of trash and debris were gathered for pick up at a later date. During the morning on Saturday the group was invited to a neighborhood cookout at Lincoln Park.

Before

After


SENDO No-Dumping Signs and Flyers

by Janni Sorensen, ESLARP Neighborhood Planning Assistant

During the past several SENDO meetings residents have discussed the problem of illegal dumping in the neighborhood and decided to install signs at sites that had been cleaned up during the September outreach weekend to deter people from dumping there again.

On Friday students worked with two SENDO members designing the signs. It was decided to use red, white and blue colors and a simple message asking people to report illegal dumping was put on the signs. In addition the students created a flyer to be distributed in the neighborhood explaining the signs and providing basic information about the illegal dumping problem and ways to address it.

On Saturday students worked all day at Truelight Baptist Church and 9 signs were created and installed.

Before

After


Paint NTAC Ramp

by Vicki Eddings, ESLARP Administrative Coordinator

The weather was great for painting the NTAC ramp on Friday. There were about 5 volunteers priming and painting the handicap accessible ramp at the NTAC office. Unfortunately rain kept the group from finishing the job on Saturday. We plan to finish painting during the next outreach weekend in November.

Before

After


Bolden Community Garden/Olivette Park Lot

by Donovan Finn, ESLARP Research Assistant

A group of students from the Library and Information Sciences Dept cleaned up Bolden Community Gardens and a vacant lot nearby. The garden was mowed, weeded, tilled and cleaned up. Final tally: one broken mower and one broken tiller.

We also cleaned up a vacant lot, which had weeds 5 feet high over the whole area, and was full of refuse (bottles, furniture, etc). It was dirty work but the end result was very satisfying...it looked a lot better. There are still some old tires and downed trees at the back of the lot, maybe that will be a project for the next work weekend. While we were working on the lot, a few residents stopped by to comment on how nice it looked, and some of the kids were very impressed by the brush mower and how different the lot looked after we got through with it.

by Anna Berkes, Prairienet

Our group spent the afternoon of 10/18 at Bolden Gardens. Ms. Bolden herself stopped by briefly early in the afternoon for a chat, and after that we got down to business. Our group and the others assigned to the site cleared out the overgrown garden, chopping down the larger plants and pulling weeds and smaller plants to prepare the garden for a new planting. After clearing the old plants, we tilled the ground and cleared some rather large rocks. We also mowed the lawn until the mower broke down. At the other end of the block, we cleared some rather tall brush and weeds from another lot and picked up a fair amount of trash. It was hard work, but ultimately very satisfying and we all felt a great sense of accomplishment at the end of the afternoon.

It was hard work, but ultimately very satisfying and we all felt a great sense of accomplishment at the end of the afternoon.

Participants: Anna Berkes, Jane Currie, Yanina Gorova, Lidia Hutcherson, Tim Schreiber

Before

After


Kenneth Hall/Jones Park Fountain

by Donovan Finn, ESLARP Research Assistant

We cleaned up the fountain in Jones Park. That was a massive project!! We had over 10 people from ESLARP, plus 6 Parks District employees and a backhoe, and it still took all day to get the fountain cleared of weeds and trash. We cut weeds, shoveled an untold amount of sand and dirt into the backhoe, and got pretty grimy and sweaty.

The fountain looks better than it has in 20 years - or so the Parks guys told us - and some of the volunteers also spent part of the weekend researching the history and design of the fountain for a renewal or reuse project.

Before

After


Paint Trendley Ave. House

by Vicki Eddings, ESLARP Administrative Coordinator

Last outreach weekend volunteers cleared weeds and debris from the around the house at 2035 Trendley Avenue and replaced an ailing fence with a new lattice fence. This weekend about ten volunteers from Prairienet primed and painted the house and tore off the front part of the roof. They got a little more than they bargained on the roof. Most of the wood was rotten so the trusses had to be replaced, but the roof doesn't leak any more. They hope to return in November to finish shingling the front roof and repair a small hole in the back part of the roof.

Before

After


Virginia Place Lot Clean-up

by Justin Placek, ESLARP Outreach Weekend Assistant

On Friday 5 students and I worked side by side with two residents in order to clean up a 2 lot area at the corner of 29th St. and Virginia Place. This was a project that we decided to do at the last minute, so we scrounged up 5 Prairie Net students from another project in order to do this. With the hardwork of these students and the 2 residents we were able to fill about 10 garbage bags full of garbage, as well as cutting down saplings, and clearing the area of overgrown weeds.

Before

After


Clean Water Action

by Eric Hadley-Ives, Assistant Professor - University of Illinois School of Social Work

The social work community organizing class (SOC W 402) sent five students down to East St. Louis on October 18th and 19th to work on the Clean Water Action publicity event and help the Lansdowne Community set up a block organization system so the residents can achieve some of the goals in the Lansdowne Redevelopment Plan.

On Friday we prepared for the media event at Frank Holten State Park, mainly by photocopying papers and reviewing the facts about pollution, contamination of fish, and local dietary habits in East St. Louis. We joined with the political science class in setting up (tables and chairs) out at the state park. The presence of our two classes doubled the audience size and certainly improved the atmosphere on a rather windy and bleak late October afternoon. A reporter from the Post-Dispatch covered the event. Members of the state's departments of environmental protection, natural resources, and public health all attended. Although all were working on various aspects of water safety some of the state employees were meeting each other for the first time. State Representative Wyvetter Young was attending. She and several of the state employees received awards for their contribution to cleaner waters and safe fish in Illinois.

Also on Friday my students had a chance to have long meetings with two Lansdowne Residents who want to be involved with a block group system. One has a history of being politically active in the Lansdowne community, while the other is a resident who is just now getting interested in becoming more involved in improving her community. Students also phoned several residents to begin the contacts that will lead to meetings in the third service weekends.

On Saturday students in the social work course and political science course attended the East St. Louis Community Action Network meeting at the Neighborhood Technical Assistance Center. In the afternoon three of my students went door to door with local residents, distributing fliers about community meetings and fish contamination. Two of the students met with a local minister who offered several suggestions on how the class could be helpful to Lansdowne. In conversations with this minister and with many residents some common themes about barriers to effective action were repeated. People seem to agree that a neighborhood group such as the Lansdowne Steering Committee needs to be supported by permanent institutions such as the NTAC, local churches, the Jackie Joyner Kersey Center, and possibly some level of government.

In Lansdowne efforts to improve the community arise and fade away. People have formed groups, received grants to develop some program, and then lost interest or disappeared. Many people distrust their local government and government services. There is also stiff competition for resources, which erodes a willingness to share and collaborate. Yet, at the level of blocks, people do have friends who live near them, and people can easily see the problems in their neighborhood. Also, people seem to want the same things. The goals in the Lansdowne Redevelopment Plan seem a good summary of what people want. However, people have difficulty seeing where to start or how to develop their organizations into a situation where they can contribute to achieving their aims. Students in the social work class will be working with residents over the phone and during the third service weekend to help them begin their block groups.


Edgemont Survey

by Billie Turner, NTAC Non-Profit Coordinator

Stanford Scott, the executive director of Adventurres in Motivation (AIM), had 9 students at his office on Sat. morning. They participated in taking surveys in the Edgemont area. The purpose was to see if there is an interest in organizing this area which includes schools, churhes and businesses, etc. They went to the Phoenix Court Housing Complex that morning and questioned the residents.

Mr. Scott very openly talked to the students the rest of the day and gave them a history lesson. He felt that he didn't have good participation from the residents of Phoenix Court although I did hear some students talking about having had the chance to talk to some of the residents. He did say that if they do it again, he would like to flyer the neighborhood a week in advance informing them about the survey activities.

Mr. Scott was a little disappointed, because he had students coming in and out going to other locations. He had wanted to go back out after lunch, but the students told him that he had another group of students coming back about 3:00 so that is why he just started talking to them about the history of E. St. Louis. He was very pleased with the students.

More photos from the weekend.

Document author(s) : listed above
Last modified: 25 October 2002, Deanna Koenigs
EAST ST LOUIS ACTION RESEARCH PROJECT