Albert Einstein is credited with saying insanity is ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’. Whether or not the credit to Einstein is correct, the statement is significantly accurate. I have lived in north St. Louis County my entire life, with the exception of living in Texas and Colorado as a U.S. Army wife. I have seen the demographic shift of the residents, the rise and fall of commercial and residential development, and the diminished opportunities for fun and recreation. As a child, my family and I played at Show-Biz pizza, watched movies at Halls Ferry 8, and in the summer, rode our bikes from dawn to dusk. Life was fun, we were safe and accepted, and North County was home.
North County is still my home, but it is different from when I was a child. Home values have depreciated, past resources are absent, and in some places, residents no longer feel safe and accepted. This is due to several factors including flight (into and out of North County), increased poverty, and continual racism. It is hard to watch stores and restaurants open and close and to realize that while other regions of St. Louis County are thriving, North County is not. We have an over abundance of liquor stores, payday loan places, and restaurants named after every state all sell fried chicken and fish. Now, I enjoy fried chicken as much as anyone but sometimes I need a good, quick, inexpensive salad.
This fall, A Red Circle will launch its full line of programming and it will be something different for North County. Our Employment Training will go beyond resume writing and cover letters. Our Child Advocacy Coalition and Parent Café program will bring parents, school personnel, and community leaders together to bring about real change to North County’s elementary school children. Our Holistic Living Circle will employ various financial and healthcare leaders to provide greater knowledge, opportunities, and understanding to North County’s residents. In our Policy Circle, we will not leave voter education and turnout to the politicians. We will mobilize the community to vote in local and state elections, as often as in national ones. Then, we will work together to fight against industries that impede economic progress. And, finally we will work in concert with the fine arts community to bring beauty, splendor, and hope into the area.
Everything we do will be intentional to address North County’s fledgling economy. Our purpose is economic development through a racial equity lens. A Red Circle is a member of North County, Inc., a regional economic development not-for-profit organization that is charged with attracting new development into the area. Our goal is to ensure that the new development is financially sustainable. We do not want our school districts rated poorly when new families are assessing whether or not to move into the area. We want North County’s residents to be healthier, financially empowered, off of government assistance (notwithstanding desperate circumstances) and to be a well-informed electorate. Finally, North County is deserving of arts festivals, jazz concerts, and other types of arts events typically hosted by Chesterfield, Clayton, and Kirkwood.
Will you join our Circle? You would be most welcome because all blood is red and there is safety in the circle.
Erica R Williams
Founder and Executive Director