A look back at 2017

Twenty seventeen was an exciting year at STL Community Cast. I heard from 35 new guests on what feels like an endless variety of projects and ideas coming out of St Louis. From my point of view, it was a good year for St Louis. I admit I probably feel that way because I go out of my way to nerd out on local projects aimed at improving the city. But I genuinely believe St Louis is on a stable, upward trajectory as a place for all types of people to live and work.

Cheers to a year of progress and growth, and a better one ahead!


“Some of the poorest municipalities in the county have the highest property taxes, but you know... they don’t get anything from that, so they turn to policing for profit. Chesterfield (for example) has some of the lowest, if not non-existent property taxes. So they outsource funding their government to the rest of the region by sales tax. So when you go to Chesterfield and shop in the valley, you’re paying for their government. So they’re subsidizing their taxpayers through the purchases of other regional taxpayers. The hypocrisy of one of the council members talking about the free market is, the valley was subsidized after the flood of 93. And they’re using distorted incentives to attract other people here. Using the tools of government to distort the market in your favor. It’s a circus sometimes.”  

Jake Hollander, St Louis Strong


“We used to see America on TV all day, through movies. It was like a dream to us. And when they told us we were going there, it felt like a dream come true. We were going to the land of opportunity! We hadn’t heard of St Louis or Missouri, but someone at the U.N. pointed to it on a physical map and through an interpreter said ‘St Louis is the heart of America’. We were very happy and excited.”  

“This is our place. This is our country. We love St Louis. We love America. We belong here.”

Nadya Kanim, Iraqi refugee & US immigrant, International Institute of St Louis


“We don’t spend enough resources on human capital here in St Louis. We spend a ton of money, and a lot of focus goes to brick and mortar. We ignore the human capital. And now we have an underclass, a subculture, where gun violence is accepted and expected.”

“We got a call from a concerned mother who said ‘Mr. Clark my son had a conflict with another young man in high school and he STILL rides around with a gun to this day- and he’s 25 now- because he’s expecting this guy to show up and catch him any day. I love my son. I fear for his life. I know who the other young man is.. That’s how long this has been going on.’”

“We said ma’am give us information and we’re going to call the other young man’s mother. We’re not going to call your son’s adversary, but we’ll call his mother. So we brought the two mothers together. As soon as they stepped into the same room, they gave each other about a 5-minute embrace. With their help, we got the conflict de-escalated. And the two young men involved really had a hard time remembering what the original conflict was!”

James Clark, Better Family Life, creator of the Gun Violence De-escalation Program


“It’s weird for a stranger to walk up and say hey I want to get close to you and capture who you are in the moment, then put your picture in front of 86 thousand people along with a really personal quote, would that be OK? I’m always surprised by how many people say yes. And a lot of times when I get into that conversation, at the end of the interview- especially ones that are difficult about someone’s past- they’ll thank me for doing the interview! I think that’s really cool.”

“I think this project is good for the city. When we started it, I’d only lived here for a year so I didn’t really know the city. But now I see we’re giving people a voice in a way that hasn’t been done yet in the city. Let’s see where it can go.”  

Lindy Drew, co-founder of Humans of St Louis


We have something unique here in St Louis and that is the support you get from individuals, business owners, all kinds of people. It’s amazing.

There’s a lot of misconceptions about this city. And I think that, if we can kind of come together over a mutual t shirt, I think that’s cool. It’s something so simple.

Aaron Park, Arch Apparel


“This whole city is built off of DIY. Do it Yourself. Let alone is that how to get shit done, it’s a survival tactic in St Louis.”

Mvstermind, rapper


“A lot of the entrepreneurship community in st louis isn’t really insular, they don’t think they have to be the king of St Louis. Instead they’re going for, all ships ride with the tide, let’s work together and build nationally. That’s a unique asset for a startup community.”

Jonathan Allen, Longneck & Thunderfoot, EQ Magazine


“I think if you truly want to tap into the potential of your consciousness, you have to take steps in your life to become more aware.”

“If you can create a vision for what you want in life, and focus on envisioning that on a daily basis, and think about in a way as if you already have them, you will attain it.”  

“There is no such thing as coincidence.”

Brian Dixon, Capital Innovators


“When you meet somebody (an entrepreneur), you just feel, you know, you see that they’re not going to lose. They’re not going to give in.”

“What you believe is what you create, and what you create is what you experience.”

Ben Burke, Arch Grants


“With Hyperloop, you could go from downtown St Louis to downtown Kansas City in 24 minutes. Less time than it takes me to commute downtown from Chesterfield.”

“Missouri is a semifinalist (to win the very first Hyperloop contract), and the reason for that is because the strength of the application we put in- the proposal- is really, really good. It’s a straight route, it connects two major metropolitan areas with enough population density and demand to make money, the land cost is very low, the regulatory environment is extremely favorable. And maybe most importantly, if you’re looking at this not as a one-off build, but as the beginning of a new inftrastructute system that eventually will be continental and global in nature, this one of the absolute best places you could start. It’s the reason why Missouri was the birthplace of the interstate highway system.”

Andrew Smith, St Louis Regional Chamber and Missouri Hyperloop Coalition


“Whether you’re getting someone to buy something, or experience something or donate to something, user generated content is generally what’s powering that decision making process. So being able to understand it and use it is inevitable today for businesses.”

Christina Hawatmeh, Scopio


“We have thousands and thousands of not for profits in St Louis. Everyone means well and tries to do well, but they have various challenges that face them. Of sustainability, of executives to work in their organization, of donors and board members. And St Louis has a tremendous amount of people who contribute to these things. But I don’t think we’re getting our money’s worth. We could share more services. Many of us have commented over the years, boy if we could merge these two organizations- not necessarily merge them but have them collaborate- maybe one plus one could equal a hundred instead of one plus one equals two.”

Maxine Clark, Build-a-Bear Workshop founder, Clark-Fox Family Foundation CEO


Thanks to everyone listening and following STL Community Cast. I’d love to hear your feedback and ideas for the show in 2018: stlcommunitycast@gmail.com

Happy New Year