Community leaders and local politicians from across the St. Louis region gathered at Harris Stowe University on Saturday to network and share ideas on how to build stronger neighborhoods.
The day-long event was organized by the St. Louis Association of Community Organizations (SLACO) and geared toward building connected neighborhoods from the ground up.
SLAYCO’s Executive Director, Nancy Thompson, said developing relationships between stakeholders is critical to the region as a whole.
“The cities and neighborhoods tend to orient toward their wards, and that’s great,” Thompson said. “But then the learning that they need may be occurring in a different ward. So, it’s really important to have this networking opportunity and learn from each other, and not have to reinvent the wheel all time.”
A total of about 150 community organizers and local officials attended the conference, which covered topics that included economic development and public safety.
“We are a city made up of neighborhoods and we all deal with the same issues,” said Cynthia Watson, founder of West End Neighbors.
Watson said she’s seen an uptick in community engagement in the West End neighborhood of St. Louis City and greater cooperation between other community leaders in recent years. Initially, she said, the focus was addressing public safety, but that quickly spun into discussions about everything from education to transportation.
“We all want to see jobs, we all want to see economic development,” Watson said. “But we all want to go to bed at night and not worry if someone’s going to come through our window.”
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