Rewind 2017: A Year of STL Community Cast

"I am the producer of STL Community Cast and 2017 was a milestone for me. It was my first full year of producing the podcast."

Estimated reading time: 5 minute(s)

2017 was a good year for St Louis. Admittedly, I’m biased. I probably feel that way because I go out of my way to nerd out on local projects aimed at improving the city.

I am the producer of STL Community Cast and 2017 was a milestone for me. It was my first full year of producing the podcast. With the support of members from the innovation community in St Louis, I had the pleasure of hosting 35 new guests on what feels like an endless variety of projects and ideas coming out of St Louis.

I’ve captured some of the highlights from the STL Community Cast interviews conducted over the last 12 months. Their comments inspire me (note, some have been lightly edited for clarity) and I genuinely believe St Louis is on a stable, upward trajectory as a place for all types of people to live, work and play.

Thanks to everyone listening and following STL Community Cast. Here’s to a year of progress and growth, and a better one ahead!

Jake Hollander, St Louis Strong

January
“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 by using sales tax revenue to pay for government services. So when you shop in the the Chesterfield valley, you’re paying for services for Chesterfield residents. So they’re subsidizing their taxpayers through the purchases (made in Chesterfield) of other regional taxpayers.”

“The hypocrisy of one of the council members talking about the free market is [that] 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.”

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

February
“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.”

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

March
“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!”

Lindy Drew, Co-founder, Humans of St Louis

April
“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.”

Aaron Park, Arch Apparel

May
“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.”

Mvstermind, rapper

June
“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.”

Jonathan Allen, Longneck & Thunderfoot

July
“A lot entrepreneurs in St Louis aren’t insular. Instead of aggressively battling for position or status, they believe all ships ride with the tide, so they work together to build. That’s a unique asset for a startup community.”

Brian Dixon, Capital Innovators

August
“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.”

Ben Burke, Arch Grants

September
“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.”

Andrew Smith, St Louis Regional Chamber and Missouri Hyperloop Coalition

October
“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, 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 infrastructure 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.”

Christina Hawatmeh, Scopio

November
“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.”

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

December
“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.”