Carnahan HS Beautified Through Student Artwork

These days, Ellie Balk splits time between St. Louis and New York City, finding work and inspiration in both locales.

“I built my career in New York and was there for 12 years,” she says. “Here, I’ve lived for almost two years; it’ll be two in October. The work is still coming in New York, which is where I established myself.” In New York, she was also running a non-profit which focused on taking school kids to work on striking public art projects in their communities, as well as raising funds for residencies for other artists to do similar work.

IMG_0457Moving to St. Louis, she wanted to to “continue my efforts, not only as an artist, but as an organizer.”

She says that she found Springboard here and “was interested in how they structured their organization. And I wound up as a program artist.”

Her work came through a program titled VIsualizing Mathematics Through Perspective, which took place at Carnahan High School of the Future. She coordinated efforts with John Grapperhaus of Springboard, who works a multi-tiered job, including a role as the liaison between Springboard and the St. Louis Public School system, particularly relating to arts enrichment programs.

The pair, Balk says, included a “site a visit and we teamed up with a math teacher who teaches algebra and geometry.” Incorporating visual art, they “worked a lot with triangles and pulled in this idea of two-point perspectives. We talked about color and color theory.”

For Balk, the program, which mostly included 9th and 10th grade students, was solid, in that they were already working on art and mathematics. This program simply brought the two concepts together in a style that was engaging and lasting, in that the art works they were creating were meant to stay at the school, posted on walls.

IMG_0011Balk says that working through Springboard, which was begun in 1965, is “a totally different approach to the core curriculum. Art teachers are teaching important skills. I bring in a different experience, a visual language to help the academic curriculum. It’s an interesting niche that we’re working in.”

What’s left at the school – a series of bright, big pieces of art.

“It’s creating this works of art,” Balk says, “that hopefully will still be there in five years.”

Those visual reminders augment what the each student takes with them.

“I’m really passionate about this work,” Balk says. “And I really do believe in the impact that classes like this can have on students that are struggling. It gets students connected to good experiences in the classroom. They’re making friends and wanting to come to school.” She admits that those already excelling will just be given that much more motivation by such programs.”

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Everyday Heroes Cited

It is not often at the Board of Aldermen that we recognize regular citizens, the actions of every day heroes. I introduced a resolution at the Board this past Friday, recognizing the heroic actions of: two young heroes; as well as the incredible actions of our Fire Department who arrived within three minutes; the Park Ranger who acted swiftly; and many others in the recent Marquette Pool incident.

A resolution is the highest honor that that Board of Aldermen can bestow and I am proud that every single Alderman added their name to the resolution. It is not often that the board is unanimous.

For those of you interested in watching, starts at minute 31 of our regular board proceedings:

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Thursday/Sunday Yoga Practice Offered on Chippewa

13441602_10208790375493209_1392041294_oEvery Thursday evening at 6 p.m. and Sunday morning at 9:30 am, josh (wolf) instructs folks from a wide variety of backgrounds in the tradition of Kundalini yoga, via Yogi Bhajan “who introduced kundalini yoga to the West in the late ’60s.” Under the title SoSLo BAB (South St. Louis bliss and bodyworks), the classes last longer than many, each session unfolding over roughly two-hours, with the effects definitely felt for hours afterwards.

The work, according to the Facebook page “is a safe & healthful combination of movement, breathing & meditation… classes are open to all levels, from absolute beginners to the well-practiced.”

While there’s definitely a goodly dose of physicality involved, the class has a heavy component of breath work, as opposed to disciplines that emphasize intense stretching/poses. For those interested in trying the form, a good primer on Kundalini can be found at 3HO.org.

Though you can certainly bring your own mats, towels and water, everything needed for a single class is available onsite (2738 Chippewa, 63118) for those new to yoga (or those who are just forgetful). In lieu of a specific donation,  josh (wolf) suggests that “a fair exchange of energy is appreciated.”

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Iowa Buffet Cited for Burger Excellence

SLM_Cover_June_06_2016A recent round-up of the best burgers in St. Louis highlighted our very own Iowa Buffet. The St. Louis Magazine blurb on the classic joint reads:

“This is a place where the bartender doubles as a line cook—opening a bottle of Busch while building an affordable burger that might just be the best-kept secret on the South Side. On any given night, the round table in back hosts older patrons playing cards while Law & Order flickers silently on the TV. The menu offers myriad options, but stick with the Hankburger (single) or Tankburger (double), made in a tabletop oven that sizzles and smokes behind the bar. These succulent patties are small but thick and have the desired density that retains heat, juice, and flavor in each bite.”

Regulars, of course, know that the bar’s been a staple in the neighborhood for years, with a surprisingly large patio for smoking and socializing. It’s the inside of the tavern, though, that reminds you of days gone by, a real, classic, South City bar feel.

The burgers might be the hook that brings people in for the first time, giving this tucked-away, neighborhood gem a steady dose of new visitors, even as the business has maintained a core of regulars, some of them decades-long customers. Watching the two groups come together, talking over a beer, or two, is one of the highlights of every visit.

Happy to see this 20th Ward gem get some region-wide love.

Address:2727 Winnebago St.,63118
Phone: 314-776-8000
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, closed
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Wednesday at 5 p.m.: “R3 Prelude: The Vessel” at Nebula

basi_reclamation_wrap_3An event taking place inside one of the new storefront’s of Nebula got some attention through St. Louis Public Radio earlier today, as Willis Ryder Arnold highlighted the theatrical work R3 Prelude: The Vessel.

The work’s described on its Facebook page thusly: “St. Louis Reclamation Arts, in collaboration with LOA Presents ‘The Vessel’ a performance art prelude to the work unfolding in chapter 3 of The Reclamation Project (R3) taking place here in St. Louis with direct focus on our shared lived experience. This free ‘pop-up’ art show welcomes St. Louis into the world we create from the material that is discarded throughout the city. “

From Arnold’s piece:

When visual artist Basil Kincaid looked for a way to complete the Reclamation Project, a 4-year-long art project that creates art by remaking elements of St. Louis’ black heritage, he turned to his grandmother for inspiration.

A quilter who passed her knowledge to her children, Eugenia Kincaid taught her grandson a lot about preserving cultural traditions. He decided to put the same focus into his work.

“When I would wear one of my grandmother’s quilts you just feel that love,” Kincaid said. “So we wanted to do something about healing and about community and unity. The idea of stitching these materials from all around the city felt simple and direct.”

13239110_742115032596610_6268142167945131784_nThe performance will feature Kincaid, Audrey Simes, Eric Prospect White & Shea Brown, with sounds by Damon Davis. A post-show reception will take place at the neighboring St. Louis Hop Shop.

R3 will run from 5-7 p.m. at 3405 Jefferson, 63118. The full event invite page can be viewed here.

Those wishing to downloads tracks tied to the Reclamation project can visit:
http://wearefarfetched.net/album/reclamation
http://www.loalives.com/#home-section

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Wednesday Morning “Reboot” Yoga Now Offered on Jefferson

11084142_957095420975888_3007410871668966632_oFor the past few weeks, yoga teacher Constance Steinkamp has hosted Reboot, a 50-minute, mid-week refresh session, held on Wednesday mornings at 8 a.m. The class is a free perk for Nebulites, allowing them engage their mind, body and breath in the Great Room; those not belonging to Nebula can also take part, by ringing in at the front door before the start time.

“I would say that Reboot is just that,” Steinkamp says, “a recharge, a midweek pick-me-up. It helps you to get into your body, into embracing your fullest potential. I think of this style as a fluid meditation. The more tension that we can release from the body intrinsically releases tension from the mind. So that’s why the physical practice is so important. The fact of the matter is that we have bodies and if we’re holding a lot of tension in our body, it’ll create blockages; mentally, emotionally, socially. When we can work out the physical tension, it causes this visceral effect that enlivens the mind the creative process and your ability to feel inspired and enthusiastic about what you’re doing.”

She adds that “Another thing prominent throughout my teaching career is making yoga accessible to everyone. I find that my teaching varies from space-to-space. I’m always interested in teaching to the people that are right in front of me. I don’t have a preconceived notion of ‘this is what it is.’ I feel like a bit of a chameleon in that I want to make it accessible and appropriate to the people I’m teaching that day.”

For Nebulites, she feels that “maybe we won’t get into chanting in this space, for example; it’s more about releasing. I’m thinking of people who are sitting at a desk all day; a lot of techies. I know when I’m sitting at a desk, I’m building tension in my neck and shoulders. So, at Nebula, my focus is on guiding a practice which releases tension from a person who is sitting at a desk much of their time.”

Steinkamp’s been practicing yoga for a dozen years, starting out with an ashtanga practice at the old Marbles studio in Lafayette Square and moving through a variety of coursework, studios and teachers since. She became a teacher, herself, in 2012, after a year-plus spent living in ashrams in India. She’s also practiced and taught in the American west, in California, Oregon and Arizona, as well as a summer spent living in New York. Noting that she’s been “bouncing” through St. Louis for the past few years, she also co-operated a collective/yoga space called Annex, just around the corner on Cherokee, now home to the TOCO Shop.

“It seems that basically since I’ve found yoga, I’ve been in-and-out of St. Louis wandering around doing what feels right, following directions that feel good,” Steinkamp says. “I’m starting to feel inspired to make something a little more substantial. I’m doing the full-time yoga thing now; I’m studio manager at Shanti Yoga in Maplewood, as well as offering a full schedule of classes.

1965542_726891867351513_2061285882_oClasses in other settings may be longer than the class at Nebula. Yet she says that while the session at Nebula may be compact, it can be a part of a larger whole of healthy, aligned living. And good work can be done in three-quarters of an hour.

“The ultimate goal of yoga is to become the observer,” she says. “The experiencer of the experience, if you will. When you’re in alignment – your body, muscles, bones — you’re able to work more efficiently, you’re at a more-peaceful place in your heart and mind, you’ll connect with the world in a way that’s more-cohesive.”

With Wednesday’s Reboot session, Steinkamp also feels that she’s adding something to the culture of Nebula.

“I think it’s important, in this kind of space, to bring people together in a community aspect,” she says. It’s good to have healthy engagements together, to have that balance. This is what I’m trying to bring to the table: a way to connect to one another on a different level..”

“That’s what’s great about Nebula,” she adds. “It’s a co-working space that’s all about connecting with each other and working on whatever it is you’re working on, and seeing if there’s a possibility for collaboration. That is yoga, in a sense: the union of people in harmony with each other to create larger vision. You can’t do that as an individual satellite floating around in outer space. You need to be connected.”

The next Reboot is Wednesday, May 25; a limited number of mats are provided, or bring your own. Class starts at 8 a.m. sharp and is over by 9 for those drop-in members using the Great Room. Non-members can also join in for a minimum $5 donation.

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Propaganda: Now Open & Operational

13061930_253904201638547_819742911134762595_nFor anyone who attended the recent Cinco de Mayo festival on Cherokee, a memorable moment occurred during the late afternoon, as a quick-moving storm rolled into South St. Louis, chasing revelers with, first, some heavy winds, then, some heavy rains.

For Propaganda, a brand-new bar on the block, the downpour chased more than a few through the door for their first visit, those folks joining an already-good crowd inside the space. Near the front door, owner Tatyana Telnikova calmly directed traffic, while simultaneously pouring drinks, and greeting the thirsty and curious

The bar was already tackling quite a bit that afternoon, debuting on the street’s biggest fest day of the year. The storm added a touch of stress, but not too much, and every day in operation since has allowed the owner of HandleBar and her staff to streamline further. Now a couple of weeks into operation, we asked Tatyana a few questions about the space and its short history at 2732 Cherokee.

How long, or quickly, did the changeover occur?
The decision to change took a long time to finalize, however, from closing ArtBar to opening as Propaganda was a little over a month’s turnaround time.

Was Propaganda a concept you wanted to do previously and/or in a different space?
Actually, it was a concept I had come up with a little before HandleBar. Back then I wanted to open Propaganda on S. Grand, but was not able to reach agreeable terms with the landlord of the property I was interested in.

Can you talk about the food component a bit?
For the time being, we’ll be offering Russian inspired “zakuska” or snacks to enjoy along with having a drink. Some of the dishes (such as pierogi) will be sourced from HandleBar. In the future, if all goes well, I’d love to build a kitchen and add an actual restaurant aspect to Propaganda.

How exciting was it to open on Cinco? And what did you learn that day, that you can take forward into everyday operation?
Opening on Cinco was very intimidating and exciting at the same time, but I think we pulled it off well.

Anything we’re missing or that you want to say___________:
I just have to say that I’m very excited to be more involved on Cherokee and to share my culture with STL. Most importantly, I want to share the Russian hospitality with our guests and neighbors, and really hope to make everyone who walks through our doors to feel very welcome. After all, St. Louis has been very welcoming to me, this is the least I can do to give back!

Propaganda’s hours will settle in like so: Tuesday-Sunday, 4 p.m.-1:30 a.m.

For more info, see: www.propagandastl.com, or visit the Facebook page here.

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Who Works at Nebula?

Nebula, at the corner of Jefferson & Cherokee, has become one of the City’s busiest co-working spaces, as well as a hub for community events. For example, our recent meeting on Participatory Budgeting was held there. And just last Friday, the space hosted a fundraiser for the People’s Joy Parade. It’s a major hub of business incubation within the ward and puts a number of workers into the neighborhood’s shopping, dining and drinking mix.

Recently, Nebula’s page published a handful of updates on the people working in/around Nebula on a daily basis.

Mark Pannebecker

Adria Nicole

Sarah Berkowitz

Smilebooth & Suede Media

Morgan Keenan & Missouri GSA

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People’s Joy Parade: Prepping Is Underway

One of the highlights of the Cinco de Mayo Festival on Cherokee is the mid-day appearance of the People’s Joy Parade. It brings together young and old in a freestyle, celebratory fashion, with all sorts of decorated floats, rides, bikes and pedestrians joining together for the experience.

In advance of the parade, the Community Arts and Movement Project’s throwing some prep days. On Sunday, May 1, CAMP, 3026 Cherokee, will offer one last such prep event; the following schedule, comes compliments of the organizers’ Facebook page:

1-2 Celia Shacklett will be hosting the Footbeat sing-a-long.
2-3 We will be leading costume workshops for kids.
Adults are welcome to come and work on their costumes,floats, or props at the same time. Artists will be on hand to help your realize your vision.
3-4 Adult Worktime. Please arrive by 3:15 for adult worktime.

The People’s Joy Parade, itself, will take place on Saturday, May 7, with a 1:11 p.m. start time. If you’ve not seen the parade in person, we’ve attached a short video to get you in the mood.

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Press Release: Demolition Court Proposed for the 20th Ward

Historic structures are one of our city’s most valuable assets. When we lose a historic building, we lose a bit of our history. The city of St. Louis was built for a much higher population than it currently has and while our population loss has turned and we are on the upswing, we still have 6,600 vacant buildings. Over 250 of those are in the 20th Ward. Preserving buildings should always be a priority, but we should also recognize that crumbling buildings beget crumbing buildings because no one likes to dodge falling bricks in their own backyards.

The City of St. Louis has many preservation review districts which require demolition requests to go before a Preservation Review Board where they consider input from the Director of Cultural Resources, the Alderman, and the public input. As a citizen, I have been personally sued for opposing a demolition and therefore as your Alderman, I want to preserve your right to weigh in on the process by ensuring that my input reflects that of the community.

With that, we’re introducing the 20th Ward Demolition Court.

Purpose: To review applications for demolition within the 20th Ward for the purpose of formulating Aldermanic recommendation to the Preservation Review Board. Applications will be reviewed and voted on by the community.

When / Where: Demolition Court will be held on the 2nd Monday of odd numbered months.  7:30pm at the former St. Matthews Church on S Jefferson.

Who: Any city resident can participate. Voting will take place at the hearing and will be weighted by those being most affected by the demolition. Households on the block of the proposed demolition will receive 3 votes, households in the neighborhood will receive 2 votes and any other city residents will get one.

How: Residents will be asked to verify their address and be given a voting card based on their residence. A community volunteer presiding judge will open session. The person proposing the demolition will be given the floor to open their case (7 minutes). Residents will be given the opportunity to sign up to speak for or against (2 minutes each). Once all residents have spoken, a vote will be taken. The Alderman’s support or opposition will reflect the vote.

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