By: Andrew Novinski
This week in St. Louis was really a recovery week for a lot of people in our group. We never had our entire group out working once this week due to sickness. Throughout the week we worked with several different organizations including, Operation Food Search, City Seeds Urban Farming, Food Outreach, and Gateway Greening. I enjoyed working with each group as indirect as our service was at times. I ended up learning more about the city than simply going there for community service. I got to experience the other side of the racism that is still a large problem in St. Louis.
One of the days we worked on a neighborhood community garden in a really awful part of town. Hearing an 85 year old African American woman talk about how she has lived in this same neighborhood for 54 years and sent all of her 11 children through college was very powerful. She talked to us about how back in the day her streets were split one side black and the other side white and that the children actually played and everyone got along. As the years went by and poverty began to be an issue more and more low income families moved into the neighborhood, it became the dangerous stereotypical neighborhood that every privileged white person thinks about. This woman, Miss Lovie touched on the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson and she said the boy had been having trouble with the police on and off and that the true problem lied in the parenting. Miss Lovie raised all of her kids in the same atmosphere and she says there is definitely two sides to this problem. It was very powerful to hear this from an elder. She also pointed out that back in her day the police walked around instead of hiding in their cars and really got to know the neighborhood. I had never really thought of it in that perspective.
That was simply one of the days we experienced in our whirlwind of a week in St. Louis and each day was very different and rewarding in its own way. I enjoy the change in our environment each week for service and I am excited to see how I will adapt in our next week.