The Shelter Project

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Image courtesy of Somewhere Studio, LLC

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.

Somewhere Studio, LLC, whose principals Jessica Colangelo and Charles Sharpless, have supported Story Stitchers through design work in the past, came onboard to do a design for this project. Somewhere Studio, LLC has created winning related projects such as Salvage Swings which won the City of Dreams Pavilion competition, and was built in 2019 on Roosevelt Island, New York and  Shelter Shift, a series of three colorful bus shelters commissioned by the Athens Cultural Affairs and built in 2019 for the City of Athens Georgia, and Little Pantry, a project for Fayetteville, Arkansas, where the designers currently live.

After listening carefully to the neighborhood representatives, they presented a design to the team. It was a hit!

In addition to the shelter, the team is working to create a new mural on the fence behind the shelter. Story Stitchers Youth Council and the Wellston Loop CDC are working to create a new mural on the fence behind the shelter. Story Stitchers is pleased that St. Louis-based artist Katherine Bernhardt has come on board to work with Stitchers Youth Council on the mural project.

Stitchers Youth Council paints a mural with artist Katherine Bernhardt

Planning with the Wellston Loop Community Development Corporation and Stitchers Youth Council began in March 2020 and continues with community members, leadership from Story Stitchers and the neighborhood, and Somewhere Studio, LLC a design team who has developed the shelter design pro bono, Metro St. Louis,  and Alberici Constructors Inc.

Timeline: March 2020-May 2021                                                   

Background: The Wellston Loop neighborhood is in Ward 22 of St. Louis City, a busy and economically challenged district serving 11,900 (2010 Census) predominantly African American residents that suffers high rates of poverty and crime, including gun violence. According to the 2010 Census, 35% of the population are children under age 18.

 

Story Stitchers have been working with the Wellston Loop neighborhood since 2017 including joint planning meetings, Youth Council outreach into the nearby elementary school, painting a mural celebrating fresh produce, and the West Side Street Feast which was started in 2018 by the Wellston Loop Community Development Corporation and Story Stitchers. Programs focuses on youth and the families supporting them by offering resources through partners such as free food and school supplies and providing information through vendor tables to connect the families to resources.

 

 

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.

Senator Karla May and Alderwoman Heather Navarro join Story Stitchers Youth Council Co-Chairs Emeara Burns and Branden Lewis to celebrate The Shelter Day!

On June 19th, 2021, Tishaura O. Jones, Mayor of the City of St. Louis, proclaimed:

WHEREAS, The creativity of artists and mentors brighten our daily lives; and the spirit of collaboration, kindness, ingenuity, creativity and compassion can bring about peaceful change; and

WHEREAS, Simple acts of kindness such as giving shelter can build hope and bring lasting change; and

WHEREAS, 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, a hygiene cupboard for sharing free soap and cleaning products, and a community bulletin board; and

WHEREAS, The new accessible bus shelter being dedicated today at the corner of Dr. Martin Luther King Drive and Hodiamont is a wonderful addition to the Wellston Loop; and

WHEREAS, In addition to the shelter, a new 90-foot fence mural was created behind the shelter.  Its bright colors, playful imagery, and vibrant messaging reflects the heart and soul of the neighborhood and bring smiles and love to the Wellston Loop and Wells-Goodfellow neighborhoods; and

WHEREAS, The City of St. Louis recognizes and thanks the many sponsors who made The Shelter Project possible, including 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:

WHEREAS, Investing in youth and in youth serving organizations can save lives and change the landscape of St. Louis. The strength and power of youth leadership, as exhibited through The Shelter Project, is the hope and future of St. Louis.

Now, therefore, I, Tishaura O. Jones, Mayor of the City of St. Louis, do hereby proclaim June 19, 2021, as:

“THE SHELTER PROJECT DAY”

IN THE CITY OF ST. LOUIS

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused to be affixed the seal of the City of St. Louis, this 19th day of June, A.D. 2021.

Wellston Loop Community Development Corporation worked with youth leaders to invite community leaders and city officials to speak from the Community Stage in 2019, a Story Stitchers program funded in part by Missouri Foundation for Health, Steward Family Foundation, Regional Arts Commission, LUSH corporation’s The Charity Pot, Incarnate Word Foundation. St. Louis Police come and give away ice cream and St. Louis Fire Department sprays a hose to cool down the kids and Story Stitchers perform. Wellston Loop is also working towards creating a Farmer’s Market on the empty lot, for which the bus stop is named.

Join the Team!

The team is seeking partners and sponsors for the Shelter Project.

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Stitchers Youth Council in front of the mural they helped to create on site in 2018

The Shelter Project is 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, the City of St. Louis, Metro St. Louis, Alberici Constructors, Inc., Ryan Goser of Goser Structural Engineering, LLC, and Cure Violence.

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.

 

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