Saint Louis Story Stitchers is partnering with the Wellston Loop Community Development Corporation on a youth-driven collaborative project that uses the creation of a bus stop shelter and fence mural to drive public engagement and honest discourse on issues including gun violence, race, trauma, gangs, food insecurity, addiction, etc. Stitchers Youth leaders create programming for one of St. Louis’s challenged African American districts to foster a safe and supportive neighborhood.
In 2020, Story Stitchers and Stitchers Youth Council accepted the invitation to aid the Wellston Loop neighborhood in working with residents to create an ADA compliant bus shelter with a bench for residents, which also incorporates a rainwater collection system for nearby vegetable gardens and a hygiene cupboard for sharing free soap and cleaning products and a community bulletin board.
The Shelter Project is a community-driven project sponsored in part by Wellston Loop Community Development Corporation, Somewhere Studio, LLC, Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective, St. Louis-based artist Katherine Bernhardt, Wells Goodfellow Neighborhood Improvement Association, Metro St. Louis, Alberici Constructors, Inc., Ryan Goser of Goser Structural Engineering, LLC, and Cure Violence.
Story Stitchers artists contributed a youth-led dance battle for the celebration, drinks and an ice cream truck with free ice cream for the neighborhood, and organized a Covid-19 vaccine educational discussion with St. Louis County Health Department educators, and orchestrated an official Proclamation from the Mayor of St. Louis who proclaimed June 19, 2021 as “The Shelter Project Day”. Seven dance contestants provided excitement for the crowd.
The Saint Louis Fire Department was on hand to keep everyone cool on the very hot and humid day and the Wellston Loop CDC supplied tents for vendors and families to gather under. Cure Violence was on hand to click elbows with folks. Approximately 100 people attended the event, 85% local black youth and families, and some curious citizens from Clayton and University City, plus folks wearing SLU, UMSL, and Washington U gear. Some passersby honked car horns in approval of the project. Alderwoman Heather Navarro and Senator Karla May were on hand to celebrate. Alderwoman Navarro read the Mayor’s Proclamation below. The Shelter Project’s next phase includes seeking ongoing stocking of the pantry with toiletries and cleaning goods and installing the nearby community garden.
Saint Louis Story Stitchers youth programs such as mural painting and community organizing for The Shelter Project are funded in part by the City of St. Louis Youth Crime Prevention Grant of 2020, Youthbridge Community Foundation Nonprofit Recovery and Resilience Fund, Missouri Foundation for Health, Incarnate Word Foundation, Regional Arts Commission, and Arts and Education Council PNC, and the Spirit of St. Louis Women’s Fund.