Young Poets RISE UP

STAND DOWN / RISE UP Respect and Redirect is an exploration of African Americans throughout Missouri’s history that have impacted gun violence by young poets ages 16-24 who currently reside in St. Louis city or county.

STAND DOWN RISE UP poets are busy preparing new work for the performances which will feature Brandon Lewis, Emeara Burns, AnnaLise Cason, LaShonda Givens, Tylea Wilson, Rachel Jones, Elijah Foggy and Antigone Chambers Reed. Workshops are underway with Story Stitchers Artists in Residence KP Dennis, Ntegrity and Merlin Bell, the new director.

KP Dennis will perform his original song, “Dred Scott” at all performances and Artist in Residence and Master Storyteller Bobby Norfolk will perform a story on the theme at the SLACO Conference performance. All performances followed by Q&A discussion.
Saturday, February 2, 2019
SLACO 23rd Annual Neighborhood Conference
Register HERE
10:30 AM-12:00 noon
St. Louis Community College at Forest Park
Student Union
Monday, February 18, 2019
Juvenile Detention Center  (Private performance) and
Gateway Arch National Park
2:00-3:00 PM
This project is supported by Missouri Foundation for Health, Incarnate Word Foundation, Missouri Humanities Council, and Gateway Arch National Park.

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Welcome Director Merlin Bell


Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective is pleased to announce that Merlin L Bell has joined the Collective as the inaugural Steward Family Foundation Director.

Merlin Bell is a social justice artist early in a very promising career.

He grew up in North St. Louis and graduated from Central Visual and Performing Arts High School. Bell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater from Denison University in Ohio in 2015 and a Master of Arts in Theater in 2017 from Fontbonne University.

He has gained experience at the Shakespeare Festival, Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis Repertory Theater, Inspire St. Louis at Wyman, the Nine Network, and at the Missouri History Museum where he worked on the Civil Rights exhibition through performance and work with their teen theater group.

The video shows Merlin’s first day at Saint Louis Story Stitchers on January 5th, 2019, where Open Auditions for the Pick the City UP Tour were taking place.

Our sincerest thanks to the Steward Family Foundation, Ken and Nancy Kranzberg, Yvette and John Dubinsky and the many friends who are joining in to help make the directorship a reality.

We are super excited and ready to grow!!!



Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective gathers African American youth ages 16-24 years old to talk about current issues and turn that into art aimed at creating social change. The Artists Collective’s current focus is bullying, bias, and gun violence. Story Stitchers promote peace and understanding through a unique brand of urban storytelling, art, and hip-hop. Story Stitchers work on the root causes of youth gun violence including the trauma of poverty and the lack of adult guidance and mentorship by providing ongoing vocational training, safe spaces to gather, relevant cultural experiences, meaningful methods of self-expression, and character education through weekly meetings, in-school assembly programs, community building, and performances. The work of the Collective is authentic and powerful. It documents black history through written word and art including poetry, photography and video recordings while training the next generation to become active, engaged citizens. Programs become a force multiplier, rippling into families, schools and neighborhoods and offering solutions to pervasive urban problems.

Employment Status: New Position

Regular: Review                                                                                                                               

Role: Administrative, Exempt

Job Title: Director

Open until filled.

The ideal candidate knows that artists can be catalysts for social change and is excited to collaborate with artists, teenagers and young adults to join and support their efforts in strengthening the 5-year-old organization. They have a strong background in nonprofit program management and enjoy all aspects of this work which includes detailed planning and facilitation of creative hands-on work in city neighborhoods, working with youth, writing, record keeping and administration. They’re looking for an opportunity that gives them a chance to grow as a leader while working collaboratively with others and they’re up for learning new skills and taking on responsibilities at a small organization.

Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective, Director. Job Posting. 12.21.18

SOUL of the CITY

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Saint Louis Story Stitchers is grateful to be Artists in Residence at Kranzberg Arts Foundation in the Grand Center Arts District since 2014. Check out the Stitchers Youth Council on the pages of the Kranzberg Arts Foundation’s first ever SOUL of the CITY publication!

Story Stitchers will premiere Peace in the Prairie at the Kranzberg Arts Foundation’s  .ZACK Theater, 3224 Locust on March 21, 2019.

Peace in the Prairie supports the research, creation and public presentation of a completed conceptual work of art by artists exploring the juxtaposition of violence in St. Louis’s urban environment and the peacefulness of Missouri’s natural prairie landscapes.

The project expands the artistic body of work of African American artists in the Collective, addresses the community need of understanding violence while seeking peace, supports the exploration of new natural settings by both artists and audiences, and supports the greater understanding of Missouri’s unique natural heritage in its native prairie lands.

Leading artists in this project include Jamie KP Dennis, Reggie McNichols aka Ntegrity, Troy Anthony Swanson, Bobby Norfolk, Demil Johnson, and contributing artist Susan Colangelo.

Peace in the Prairie is presented with support Missouri Arts Council, Missouri Foundation for Health, and Kranzberg Arts Foundation.


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Call 4 Submissions

STAND DOWN / RISE UP Respect and Redirect is an exploration of African Americans throughout Missouri’s history that have impacted gun violence today by young poets ages 16-24 who currently reside in St. Louis city or county. 



Open Call to: All 16-24 year olds living in St. Louis city or county.



 Email or call 314-899-9001 for a submission form

or attend the December 29th Writing Workshop.


Additional details coming… stay tuned to STORYSTITCHERS.ORG.



Writing Workshop

December 29, 2018

2:00-5:00 PM

Stitchers Storefront Studio

616 N Skinker Blvd.


DEADLINE 4 Submissions 

January 4, 2019 at 11:59 PM



Create a NEW original spoken word piece.

Your own thoughts and words.

 Family-friendly language.

500-1,000 words or 2-4 minutes when performed.

Exploring one or more African Americans throughout Missouri’s history that have impacted gun violence.



Works will be blind juried. Juror will see only the poetry.



Six new poems will be selected.

Writers selected will be invited to come to the Stitchers Storefront Studio to register.

Writers must show proof of age. Under 18 must bring a parent or guardian.

New works must be completely original and in line with the Story Stitchers mission to promote a healthier and safer St. Louis region for all.

Works will be licensed for free use by Saint Louis Story Stitchers.



Writers will have the opportunity to rehearse and perform the new works at the following venues with Saint Louis Story Stitchers.

Youth may earn stipends for their work.



Performances with Q&A discussions:


Saturday, February 2, 2019

10:45 AM-12:00 PM

Forest Park Community College

St. Louis Association of Community Organizations

Annual Conference


Monday, February 18, 2019

President’s Day

City of St. Louis Juvenile Detention Center

10:00-11:00 AM

(Closed to the public.)

February 18, 2019

President’s Day

 Gateway Arch National Park

2:00-3:00 PM.

Free and open to the public.

STAND DOWN / RISE UP is presented with support from Missouri Foundation for Health, and with support from Incarnate Word Foundation, and Gateway Arch National Park.


For more information and to learn about upcoming opportunities please visit and follow the blog.

Open Auditions for the Pick the City UP Tour 2019 are January 5th, 2019 from 1:00-5:00 at 616 N Skinker.

To apply for Stitchers Youth Council email A limited number of paid summer internships are available. Apply through STL Youth Jobs.


Peace in the Prairie Sketchbook: Editing

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Peace in the Prairie 

Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective is creating an original work of art exploring the concepts of peace and violence, juxtaposing urban life as experienced by African American people living in the city of St. Louis, Missouri and the state’s  unique endangered prairie lands. Can we find peace in the prairie by exploring Missouri? 

Artists have been collecting audio stories about violence and peace from Missouri citizens. Artists have traveled to Shaw Nature Reserve, Prairie State Park, and to the Missouri Prairie Foundation’s Annual Meeting at Prairie Star Restoration Farm in Bland, Missouri to experience and learn about prairies and capture images of prairie plants and animals.

Artists are now in the editing phase of the project and are creating the soundtrack and video for the new work of art.

Lead project artists are Troy Anthony, Susan Colangelo, KP Dennis, Ntegrity, Bobby Norfolk, and Superhood.

Save the Date for the performance and Q&A.

March 21, 2019 at the .ZACK, 3224 Locust

Peace in the Prairie is presented with support  from an Annual Discipline Minority Arts grant from Missouri Arts Council for the research and creation of a new conceptual work of art.

The project is also supported by a grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health. The Foundation is a resource for the region, working with communities and nonprofits to generate and accelerate positive changes in health. As a catalyst for change, the Foundation improves the health of Missourians through a combination of partnership, experience, knowledge, and funding.

The performance is sponsored in part by Kranzberg Arts Foundation and the .ZACK.

Leadership in Community

The circular symbol in the Story Stitchers logo comes from the West African Adinkra symbol called Adinkrahene, chief of the Adinkra symbols. It stands for greatness, charisma and the importance of playing a role in community leadership.

Adinkra cloth is hand-stamped in Ghana and worn by people in a variety of social and festive gatherings. Adinkra symbols express various themes related to the history, beliefs, and philosophy of the Asante people of Ghana. Sometimes they are related to wisdom as taught through traditional proverbs. Adinkra cloth has been called story cloth, as numerous symbols are stamped in blocks on one cloth, perhaps telling the story of a person’s life.

Saint Louis Story Stitchers board members met last night for the annual meeting and election at the .ZACK on Locust in Grand Center.

The Board held the annual election and reviewed finances and programming. Susan Colangelo, President, gave the annual report and the group discussed fundraising, growth and the direction of the organization.

The board is pleased to welcome three new members.

Serving as Secretary, Sarah Gaby, Ph.D. is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Department of Sociology and the Wiedenbaum Center on the Economy, Government and Public Policy at Washington University in St. Louis. Her research and community interests focus on the ways organizations engage youth in social change work. Sarah received her doctorate from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Sarah described her reasons for joining the board, “I am excited for the opportunity to serve an organization that uses the arts to help youth process their lived experience and better their communities.”

Hedy Lee, Ph.D., a new Member-at-Large, is a Professor at the Department of Sociology with a Courtesy Joint Appointment in the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. Hedy shared, “My research focuses on understanding the social determinants of health and health disparities, including gun violence. I am excited to work with an organization that actively engages with youth community members to address important issues, like gun violence.”

“I often find that my professional work identifies and examines social problems, but I want to do more to actively address these problems and I can do that through my volunteer work. I think actively working with my community is critical to being a good citizen and scholar.”

Chu (Wanda) Wang, a new Member-at-Large, is a staff accountant at Martz & Wilson, LLP. She received her MACC from Washington University in St. Louis. Wanda has worked on a consulting program to help not-for-profit organizations develop fundraising strategies. Wanda says, “I am ready to contribute my passion and professional knowledge to Story Stitchers and become part of the power to communicate the concepts and raise people’s attention on youth gun violence.”

These passionate people join the rest of the board – Susan Colangelo, Cassandria White, Maggie Wu, CPA, Donna Campbell, Ph.D., Ebony Carter, MD, MPH, Mary Chandler, Chris Hanson, Keisa Johnson, Esq., Eric F. Kayira, Esq., and Tim Portlock, to give freely of their time and resources in support of Saint Louis Story Stitchers.

We add Adinkrahene, symbol for leadership in community, to the stories of their lives.



Catch the Story Stitchers LIVE!



Harris-Stowe State University

Emerson Performance Center

Bank of America Theater

3031 Laclede Ave St. Louis, MO 63103

5:00-7:00 Resource Fair

6:30 Doors open to HSU Students

6:50 Doors open to All. Free. All ages.

7:00-8:30 Performance


Park free on campus or metered on street