Kristen Hare | St. Louis Public Radio

Kristen Hare

Kristen Hare

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Silvia Ursu didn’t know too much about St. Louis before coming here about two weeks ago. 

Now that she’s here, Ursu says she’s found a great city that’s taken the steps to ensure equal rights for people with disabilities.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Laura Bates first went to prison in Chicago. She wasn't there to stay, of course, but went to volunteer, beginning work that’s lasted several decades.

“My first thought was to work with first-time offenders,” she says. “Ironically, 25 years later I’m all the way in super max.”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When she was 9-years-old, Marguerite Garrick reached up into a bookshelf in the living room of her family’s Chicago apartment and pulled out a book.

"People and Places" by Margaret Mead came down, and with it, new worlds and ideas and lives to explore.

More than 50 years later, she hopes the hundreds of books from her mother and father’s library will create that same experience for someone new.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Spring, at last, and with the warming weather comes more time, and light, to be out in the garden planting. Two experts from the Missouri Botanical Garden took time to share their tips and tricks for getting the most out of your garden this spring, with vegetables, herbs and flowers. 

Elizabeth Spiegel, a horticulturist and chief bee keeper, and June Hutson, supervisor of the Kemper Home Demonstration Gardens, spoke with the St. Louis Beacon about getting your garden growing.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Late last year, a new project set out to change the image about St. Louis through crowd sourcing and crowd funding. 

But as ideas flowed in to Rally STL, co-founder Aaron Perlut found they weren’t about image as much as internal civic change. So they went with it.

In January, Perlut hoped that Rally would help to fund three projects in the course of the year.

Bill Greenblatt | UPI | file photo

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon:A shiny, gold bow wraps around the skinniest part of the hyperparaboloid that sits in Forest Park, celebrating the golden 50th for the James S. McDonnell Planetarium

The bow, like the shape of the building, stands out as a symbol of St. Louis, at least at the holidays.

Provided by the St. Louis Science Center

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon:On Tuesday, April 16, 1963, the James S. McDonnell Planetarium opened to record crowds flocking to see Forest Park’s newest cultural institution and learn about the stars.

On Tuesday, April 16, 2013, the planetarium celebrates its 50th anniversary, with better and newer technology and an expanding ability to explore and view our solar system.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Twenty-two years ago, when Merryl Winstein began raising chickens in her own Webster Groves backyard, the practice brought up certain words for some people -- like low-class.

“Now, there are other words,” says Winstein, “like sustainability, low-carbon footprint and green living.”

In the more than two decades since her first chickens began laying their first eggs, a lot has changed. Raising backyard chickens is seen, by many, as sustainable and a way to have some control over their food source.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Signs of spring are rare, so far. A few daffodils, maybe, but if the lingering cold has you doubting the season’s really arrived, then look to the tens of thousands of runners hitting the streets of St. Louis this weekend for confirmation.

Go! St. Louis Marathon offers several events throughout the weekend, from a marathon and half marathon, a 5K run/walk and children’s fun runs to a mature mile, which this year will feature two 100-year-old participants. (Follow the links to find routes and start times, so you can -- if you're not running -- applaud the efforts of those running by.)

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: In her travels around the world, photographer Elaine Blatt loves visiting local markets to people watch, to find new spices and eat the local foods.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon:St. Louis’ 250th birthday partying officially begins next year. But if you’re on Facebook or Twitter much, you may have noticed that celebrations have already started.

On its Facebook page every day this year, STL250 has posted morsels of history, called “This Day in St. Louis History,” and “St. Louis Birthday of the Day,” focusing on well-known and not-so-well known people who have touched St. Louis over time.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: In the last few years, the Mississippi River has given us floods and drought, devastating highs and devastating lows. 

"We so often associate climate change with coastal cities, and we don’t often associate a change in the middle part of the country," said John Hoal, head of the master of urban design program at Washington University. 

But those changes exist.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: A few years ago, journalist and editor Kelly Lewis started a company to meet a specific audience for travel writing -- women. Guidebooks often didn't tell her what she needed to know as a woman traveling overseas. 

Today, four such books are in print, with more on the way. The full-color "Go! Girl Guide" books, which include London, Argentina, Mexico and Thailand so far, offer information on women’s clinics in each country, as well as tips on shopping areas and interviews with travelers and local women.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: On Wednesday, along Edgewood Street in downtown Atlanta, 80-foot-sections of steel rail were lowered into trenches in the street. It was the first section of rail for Atlanta Streetcar, following a process that took 10 years and millions of dollars.

The first rails went into the historic Martin Luther King district of Atlanta and, once complete, will feature an east-west line with 2.6 miles of rail.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Chikako Usui, was born and raised in Ojaki, in the Gifu Prefecture of Japan, about an hour’s train ride from Kyoto. Today, she is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and president of the Japan America Society of St. Louis.

And thanks to a new exchange program, those two worlds will be coming together even more beginning this summer. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis: Missouri has something close to 200,000 acres of farmland devoted to rice production, making it the fifth largest rice producing state, according to USA Rice Federation.

The land, fittingly, yields rice, but that's not all. Thanks to a new partnership between USA Rice and Ducks Unlimited announced in February, parts of it will also offer shelter to migrating waterfowl each winter.

Pevely building in September 2012 before the sign came down.
Kristen Hare | St, Louis Beacon

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: You know the saying there’s no use crying over spilt milk? Well, what about bricks?

After a tough fight, Saint Louis University got approval to tear down the Pevely Dairy complex at Grand and Chouteau last year, when the Planning Commission reversed the decision by the Preservation Board to protect the site, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, and allow SLU to build a new ambulatory care center.

Provided by Anna Jackson

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon - Anna Jackson's cottage sits atop a hill near Old St. Charles. It faces east, and some mornings, the 64-year-old is greeted by sunrises that fill the sky with colors of molten lava. Every day, she walks quietly around the back of her home toward the front. When she reaches her mailbox, the robins that live just above freeze, but she coos to them quietly as she gets her mail, and soon they get back to their family.

The Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis says a member recently received a threatening call from a man upset over recent shootings in California that authorities say were carried out by a Muslim couple.
Courtesy Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon - Imam Samuel Ansari is from St. Louis. Anjum Shariff, born in India, grew up here, too. Melissa Matos, born in New York and raised in Miami, came to St. Louis a few years ago. Imam Muhamed Hasic arrived here from Bosnia 14 years ago. Twenty years ago, Gulten Ilhan, from Turkey, came to St. Louis. And in 1970, Mir Asif, from India, made the Gateway City his home.

One word describes all of them -- Muslims.

At the beginning of the month, a report came out from the Pew Hispanic Center reporting that illegal immigration into the country had declined "sharply since mid-decade."

According to the study, which used U.S. Census Bureau data, the number of undocumented immigrants in the country dropped 8 percent, from 12 million in March 2007 to 11.1 million in March 2009. 

Pamela Vanegas and Manuel Torres discuss civics in their final study session before the 81-year-old takes his citizenship test.
Kristen Hare | St. Louis Beacon | 2010

They sit across from each other at the table. She asks questions. He answers them.

"OK, please stand up," Pamela Vanegas says, and Manuel Torres does. "What did I ask you to do."

"To stand up."

"OK, please raise your right hand."

He does.

"Do you swear to tell the truth today?"

"Yes," he says with feeling, then sits down.

Jim Hacking
From law firm website

Most of us say deportation, but in legal circles, with the government and those who find themselves involved with a case, it's called removal.

The word itself pretty much describes what happens: A person is literally removed from this country for a number of reasons. But how removal works is not necessarily easy to understand or navigate.

She sits in a small conference room at her lawyer's office. It's mid-morning, hours before she heads to a popular downtown St. Louis restaurant, where she buses tables. Maria isn't her real name, but what she's requested we call her for this story. She's 32, small, with short brown hair and big silver hoop earrings. She's a mother to four, an employee, a daughter and a sister.

And she's undocumented, meaning she has no legal status in this country, which is why we're calling her Maria instead of her real name.

Ellen S. Clark Hope Plaza
Rachel Heidenry | 2010

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune -- without the words,

And never stops at all ...

Emily Dickinson's words stretch around a platform overlooking an infinity pool that sits among buildings at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

"It's broken."

Despite differing viewpoints, nearly everyone the Beacon spoke with about our immigration system had that same answer. Their thoughts on reform differ in many ways, but agreements did crop up and often included the need to simplify the bureaucracy, to control our borders better and to impose some penalties on people who came here illegally or who are now here undocumented, without necessarily sending them home.

"It's broken."

Despite differing viewpoints, nearly everyone the Beacon spoke with about our immigration system had that same answer. Their thoughts on reform differ in many ways, but agreements did crop up and often included the need to simplify the bureaucracy, to control our borders better and to impose some penalties on people who came here illegally or who are now here undocumented, without necessarily sending them home.

Interviews were edited for clarity and length.

Ken Schmitt didn't set out to be an immigration lawyer.

He got involved, however, when he started his own practice and knew people who were graduating from American schools and wanted to stay and work as professionals. Then, the majority of his clients had a minimum of a bachelor's degree and were offered jobs, but that only made up about 20 percent of his practice for a while.

race frankly logo
St. Louis Beacon | 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When the Beacon sent out a query through our Public Insight Network asking about people's experiences with race, we got more than 100 responses from old and young, black, white, Hispanic, American Indian and foreign-born.

Here, we share some of those stories, from a black woman who saw a Middle Eastern man refused service, to an Iranian family business who found community support when they least expected it.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: We know the time, the place, the people killed and the person who did the killing on Feb. 7, 2008. Those moments remain in the minds of those present that night and those present for the retelling after. But what about the moments that followed? What’s happened in Kirkwood and around St. Louis since Charles “Cookie” Thornton opened fire at a Kirkwood City Hall meeting, killed five and wounded the mayor, who died months later? Organizations have formed, essays have been written by school kids imagining a prejudice-free community, and remembrance ceremonies are planned.

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