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Outreach Weekend, Fall 1997 #1

East St. Louis Community Outreach Weekend #1 was a huge success, as 100 students, staff, and faculty completed projects at ten sites across the city of East St. Louis on September 26 and 27. Neighborhood organizations in East St. Louis identified each of these projects and contacted the University for assistance.Students were also given the opportunity to discuss their ideas about the work the East St. Louis Action Research Project has been conducting in the city and how their expectations compared to their actual experiences.

Alta Sita Neighborhood

Virginia Park: An architecture studio (Arch 371) led by Professor Jeff Poss completed several improvement projects in Virginia Park.The projects included rebuilding two sandboxes, clearing brush, and picking up litter. The studio class is working on designs for a new pavilion in Virginia Park, and the Outreach Weekend provided the students with the opportunity to make some lasting improvements to their project site.

2999 Virginia Place: Neighborhood Technical Assistance Center architect Craig Miller led a group of students in this project which involved refurbishing a house. The students cleared overgrown brush and branches from the yard and removed a large amount of trash. They also helped winterize the home and made a permanent improvement by constructing a new deck for the house.

Lansdowne Neighborhood

Students cleared three vacant lots that had become dangerously overgrown in the Lansdowne neighborhood. While managing to (mostly) avoid the poison ivy, the students worked with Americorps volunteers to help remove the neighborhood eyesores.

Olivette Park Neighborhood

7th Street: A group of students avoided bee and hornet stings as they painted a house in the Olivette Park neighborhood. After scraping away the badly deteriorating paint on the home, the students applied fresh coats of paint, (grey on the top, white on the bottom), making the residence appear almost brand new.

Dunham Centers: Katherine Dunham must have greatly appreciated the work that the University students did for her Centers for the Arts and Humanities.They cleaned and mowed the grounds of the Dunham Dynamic Museum, removed a rotting back porch from another property, and cleared a large amount of brush.

Carver Community Center

Work continued on the Carver Community Center in the Goose Hill neighborhood. The students cleared and cleaned the grounds of the Center in prepartion for a new playground. In addition, they did some painting on the inside of the Center and refurbished a basketball hoop. The Carver Center, in association with North End Missionary Baptist Church also hosted lunch on Saturday September 27, for which the University is very grateful.

Mt. Sinai Computer Mania

A team of University computer experts led by Abhijeet Chavan and Deanna Koenigs helped set up several new computers in Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church (Rev. Herman Watson, pastor). The computers were obtained from University surplus and will provide neighborhood residents with access to a multitude of educational computer programs. Several neighborhood children took advantage of Mt. Sinai's "Computer Mania" workshop, as they were instructed on how to use the computers.


Every home in the Edgemont neighborhood had its door knocked on by University students and neighborhood residents.The Edgemont Citizens for Crime Prevention and Community Development were using the University assistance to distribute flyers promoting the neighborhood organziation.

Farmer's Market

Students battled bees and other hazards as they cleared refuse, overgrown weeds, and brush from the East. St. Louis Farmer's Market. The Market, built with University assistance, is nearing the end of its fourth year of successful operation. Fresh fruit offered by vendors at the Market invigorated students during breaks from their hard work.

Illinois Avenue Playground

Students did a quick clean-up of this park, which was built by the Winstanley-Industry Park Neighborhood Organization in partnership with the University.The park has served as a cherished play area for neighborhood children for over four years now.

Document author(s) : Bryan Friedman
Last modified: 15 October 1997, Deanna Koenigs