Four neighborhoods in south St. Louis could look a lot cleaner in the next couple years, thanks to new local efforts to address illegal dumping.
The "So Fresh, So Clean, So Creative Southside St. Louis" project, initiated by the Dutchtown South Community Corporation, recently received a $120,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency.
The two-year grant will fund efforts to educate residents on how to report illegal dumping, which is common in the neighborhoods of Dutchtown, Marine Villa, Gravois Park and Mount Pleasant. DSCC is working with the nonprofit group Brightside St. Louis to help with cleanup and education efforts.
Some of the federal funds will be spent on translation services, as many residents who live in the area are immigrants or refugees, with limited English speaking skills. The project also will seek to determine what is driving illegal dumping in the area.
Amanda Cólon-Smith, project manager at the Dutchtown South Community Corporation, said the neighborhoods have a "busy" appearance that might invite folks to dump waste improperly. In the coming months, she plans to hold meetings to talk to residents about how they can help address the problem. It's not enough, she said, to simply hold a community cleanup event.
"You mobilize active, caring, engaged residents, but it doesn't go towards looking systematically to say what's driving the dumping or what's the cause of improper waste disposal in the area," Cólon-Smith said.
To further encourage cleanliness, the community organization also plans to ask local artists to build installations, such as sculptures and murals.
"Those things will be reminders of the creativity and power within our community to make it livable and lovable for each other," Cólon-Smith said.