ONEWORLD Washington University ● Issue 9 ● Fall 2011 3
Fall 2011 Issue 9
Editor-in-Chief Jordan Wagner Presidents John Drollinger Rachel Sacks Assistant Editors Alannah Glickman Bryne Hadnott Treasurer Lyda Rossi Editors,Writers, and Designers Christina Chady John Delurey Alana Hauser Nicole Johnson Quinlan Maggio Pria Mahadevan Sienna Malik Amy Miller Alexandra Neuman Henry Osman Eleanor Pearson Jenny Rowley Shira Sacks Michael Savala Allyson Scher JD Scott Allegra Skurka Elaine Stokes Ruicong Yan Jessica Yeung Staff Abroad Leah Ewald Daniel Starosta
dear readers, A home is much more than merely a structure. It is a way-of-life, a place full of love and comfort, and a safe environment. Our home life introduces us to the cultures, religions, and beliefs that influence the way we are and the type of life we lead. However, we must recognize that our traditional view of the home differs not only from country to country, but also from neighborhood to neighborhood right here in St. Louis. Welcome to the 9th edition of OneWorld! We have been working hard this past semester to compile an issue that focuses on our theme of Social Justice, and specifically, on home. We explore how the home influences the daily life of an individual, both the positive and the negative effects. In these next pages, we will share with you only a few of the hundreds of stories that Washington University students have undertaken, hoping that their stories might motivate you to change your conventional view of a home. Through urban planning and the sharp increase of automobiles, the framework of transportation is being changed to reflect the needs of the automobiles instead of the pedestrians. The Jordanian Women’s Union encourages women to take charge of their home life and empowers them. A small village on the border of the Czech Republic has revolted against the modern amenities introduced into the home, instead reverting back to a much simpler way-of-life. A firsthand account into the violence of St. Louis sheds light on the unstable home, the home infused with danger and hostility. The indigenous groups of Africa are redefining their view of home after being kicked off their native lands. With this issue, we encourage you, as the reader, to rethink and redefine your view of home. Look beyond the framework of your house and explore the neighborhoods around you. We hope this issue inspires you to question yourself and your surroundings. We continue to support our mantra, “knowledge is power.” You have the knowledge, but what will you do with your power?
sincerely, Jordan Wagner
Table of Contents 3 5 6 8 11 13 15 20 23 27 30 34 36 39 41 43 44
Pipeline Woes and the Ineffectiveness of Federal Regulation Labadie Adding Purpose to a Hobby Life on the Border A Family Affair Creating Rainbows Out of Darkness Botswana and Namibia The Future of Urban Design Public Housing, Student Housing, and the Modernist Mystique The American Automobile How Many More? City Limits An Introductory Guide to Social Entrepreneurship More Than Just a Shelter More Than Just Trade Food as a Right Growing a Non-Profit
EXXON-MOBILE OIL SPILL
Pipeline Woes and the Ineffectiveness of Public Regulation by Ruicong Ya n
In the aftermath of the catastrophic oil spill of an Exxon Mobile pipeline in July that dumped 42,000 gallons of crude oil into the Yellowstone River, state and federal officials are reconsidering the monitoring and enforcement practices of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which oversees domestic liquid pipelines. The subsequent agricultural shut-down and resident evacuation prompted new questions about the nature of federal pipeline regulation and the effectiveness of safeguards which failed to prevent the toxic slew which clogged 25 miles of the Yellowstone River. Among other revelations, the PHMSA is cited to be perpetually short on inspectors and funds, reluctant to impose fines on offending companies, and
ONE W ORLD
FALL 2 0 11
over-reliant on self-reporting of possible problems in pipelines. Though current Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood acknowledges the problems in the agency, lawmakers appear reluctant to authorize more funds in the face of recent economic stagnation and budget woes. In an appeal to Congress for additional funding, LaHood referred to the Yellowstone spill, stressing that his agency “need[ed] to know with great certainty that inspections and replacements have been done in a timely way that will prevent these kinds of spills from happening.” Indeed, in light of recent safety failures such as the Yellowstone and Kalamazoo River spills (both of which were under review from the PHMSA), the fundamental regulatory
methods of the agency have come into question. The agency currently focuses on “high-consequence” areas covering 44 percent of the United States, and even then only relies on self-reporting from oil companies to identify potential risks. Other parts of the complex US pipeline are left largely unregulated, based solely upon the honor system to meet federal standards for safety. Worse, inspections by the agency occur only once every 3-5 years, and rely on an inspection plan drawn up by the very company that is under scrutiny. Even once identified, abnormalities in a pipeline are only under recommendation to be fixed, but are not required or adequately inspected (leading most companies to ignore small to moderate flaws until a spill occurs).
With the recent approval of the Keystone XL pipeline which will transport bitumen crude (an oil derivative much more corrosive than normal crude) from Canada directly to Texas, the PHMSA will be increasingly troubled by its lack of personnel and funding. As it stands, the agencyâ€™s inspector count is already 17 short of the federal requirement, leading to a personnel deficiency that might have serious implications for the long-term safety of US pipelines. Transportation of the tar sands will be dogged by increased possibility of pipeline corrosion and rupture, a key concern in the construction of the Keystone pipeline. In addition, the very extraction of these tar sands is seen to create much more greenhouse gases than the extraction of normal crude. Coupled with the destruction of the 740,000 acre boreal forest (a carbon sink which naturally decreases CO2 in the atmosphere) that lies atop the tar sands, the environmental impacts of the Keystone pipeline will stretch far beyond the heightened chances for a spill. Though the agency means well by providing a safeguard system for the pipeline industry, its inefficient enforcement and failures in inspection may lead to a false sense of security and a waste of taxpayer resources. This unintended consequence of federal regulation highlights
an important consideration of environmental policies in the US and calls into question the conventional wisdom that regulation must expand public safety. As well, due to the recent economic troubles and energy crisis, the immediate monetary and fuel profits from oil may seem to outweigh the long-term benefits of a healthy environment. Maintaining an unspoiled ecosystem may take second stage as policy-makers are faced with the double threat of a declining economy and dwindling energy sources. While maintaining the triple balance between sufficient energy supply, a healthy economy, and a flourishing ecosystem, policymakers must determine the most important policy objectives in constructing environmental legislation. For the sake of an untarnished natural landscape and continuing safe living conditions for local residents, Congress should put particular emphasis upon ensuring the individual livelihoods of those affected by the construction and the environmental impacts of an intrusive oil pipeline upon the surrounding ecosystem. At stake is the ecological devastation of 1,700 miles of land crossing two countries, clear-cutting of 740,000 acres of natural forest, and a one-third increase of greenhouse emissions from the Canadian oil industry. Only time will tell what decision Congress will make.
steele city, nebraska
port arthur, louisiana Houston, texas
te x t by El e a n o r Pe a r s o n ph o to s by Park er M i ch ael Kn i gh t a n d M a rk Su rbl o s Wa l l i s
Washington University sees itself as a paragon of sustainability. We see recycling bins everywhere we look. Dining services started composting this year, and we are constantly reminded to bring reusable containers to the dinner table. However, the exaggerated emphasis on physical waste overshadows an embarrassingly large energy footprint. Our university consumes nearly one hundred thousand btu’s (British Thermal Units) of electricity per square foot per year, not counting natural gas consumption–an amount equivalent to burning more than 44,000 tons of coal.
ONE W ORLD
FALL 2 0 11
The analogy is not far from the truth: Wash. U. gets its electricity from Ameren, a local coal-burning energy company. Because air filters and other techniques have been employed to prevent some byproducts from escaping into the surrounding environment, coal proponents allege that it has been made a “clean” source of energy. Only chemicals that would be immediately hazardous have been removed, so their claims completely ignore the significant carbon dioxide emissions caused by burning any fossil fuel. Once captured, waste products such as coal ash
must be stored securely because they contain trace amounts of hazardous chemicals such as cadmium, selenium, and arsenic. In nearby Labadie, Missouri, Ameren’s two current coal ash dumps are filling up. To contain future waste, they plan to build a new 400-acre coal waste landfill–within the 100-year floodplain of the Missouri river. The area currently acts as a buffer zone during periods of flooding and, until Ameren purchased it, was productive farmland. Though the dump will be guarded with a 20-foot-tall levee, flooding frequency and intensity has become increasingly uncertain due to changes in climate. In times of high water, the presence of the dump in the floodway may cause the area to act as a dam instead of a safety valve, backing up the river with consequences for upstream areas. Concerned citizens in Labadie have started the grassroots Labadie Environmental Organization “Save our Bottoms,” a pun on the local term for the Missouri river basin. They emphasize the detrimental effects on both groundwater and river water in the case of a flood or liner failure, which the organization sees not as a possibility, but an eventuality. Since the proposed landfill location is on top of an alluvial aquifer (water stored in rock), leakage could pollute both downstream drinking water and downgradient well water. This is the perfect time for Wash. U. to start weaning themselves off our dependence on coal-based energy. In September, a student-run organization at the University of Missouri hosted a series of events called “Beyond Coal,” to discuss the dangers of coal exposure. If we are committed to a truly safe and sustainable future, we should do the same. It is time to look at the big picture, Wash. U.: think outside the bubble.
Adding Purpose to a Hobby Upon applying to become a mural artist for the Andean Bear Foundation this past Spring, a small part of me believed that flying to Ecuador to paint on walls was a selfish extravagance under the guise of volunteer work. Although I had doubts about my role as a volunteer, I had no doubts about the sincerity of the foundation itself. It was started by a native Ecuadorian named Armando Castellanos, who decided to devote his life to protecting the Andean bear; the only bear that is native to South America. The decline in the Andean Bear population is mainly due to deforestation, illegal captivity, and violence inflicted by farmers who catch bears eating their crops. In order to combat the effects of these factors, the foundation helps by rescuing and rehabilitating individual bears that have been affected. Most of the volunteer group is comprised of bear trackers who go on treks using radio-telemetry equipment to make sure that the bears that have been rehabilitated and released are successfully adapting in the wild. This incredible and practical volunteer task made me feel even more useless as an artist. I was suddenly beginning to wonder how much of an impact art could actually make. The excitement that I experienced upon my arrival in Ecuador temporarily pushed these thoughts out of my mind. I was fascinated by the Cloud Forest where the volunteer house was located, as it
would frequently become encompassed by clouds as they floated by due to how high up we were located. I was additionally enjoying my new friendships with bear trackers, and I was appreciating the transition into this rural lifestyle in the Andean mountains. However, upon finishing my first mural and stepping back to photograph it, my concerns came rushing back to me. I could not help but wonder why I needed to capture
te x t a n d p h o to s by A l e x a n d ra N e u m a n the finished product. Am I painting this to have something to show my classmates during my presentation? Am I painting this because painting is a hobby of mine? The bear trackers work to get data, and my only result is a seemingly useless mural on the wall. My preoccupation with these thoughts prevented me from noticing the small and outwardly curious child that had walked
into the bottom right corner of the frame. When I looked at the picture afterwards, I smiled in disbelief at how quickly I could be reassured of my sense of purpose in being there. As I replayed the dayâ€™s events in my head, I recalled how many excited interactions I managed to have even with my second-rate Spanish. I exchanged pleasant greetings with farmers as I made
ONE W ORLD
FALL 2 0 11
my way down from the volunteer house in the Cloud Forest to the painting site in the town of Apuela. While setting up my supplies outside of the town library, a passerby had already begun to ask me what I was planning to do. I responded by explaining the threats faced by the Andean bear and the need to protect them. The best exchanges with the community occurred when the school truck
made its stop in the afternoon, and I found myself suddenly surrounded by curious eyes. When I sensed all these stares upon me, I felt pressured. A small conversation in broken Spanish would not be enough for these inquisitive children, so I quickly decided to hand over my paintbrushes and let them experiment as I explained the plight of the Andean Bear. The children became more confident with each stroke. Their shyness slowly changed to a sense of outward empowerment, as they were excited to be trusted with paint on the wall outside their own town library. This empowerment was soon accompanied by a unified sense of purpose, as their growing understanding of the need to protect the Andean Bear made them realize that their painting was all for a higher purpose and that they were making their contribution. Looking back at the photo with the curious child in the corner, I now realize that the power of art lies in the creative process rather than in the finished mural itself. Instead of sitting at a table handing out flyers about the Andean Bear Foundation, I stood in the same spot for hours at a time trying to paint a bear on the wall. The beauty of the colors and the strangeness of the situation sparked the curiosity of the community members, making them come to me to inquire rather than me having to approach them and preach. This gave me the perfect opportunity to explain the goals of the organization and forge connections with those who might otherwise be uninterested in what a random, caucasian person is doing in their neighborhood. In some ways, my trip to Ecuador was a personal extravagance. I spent my time doing things that I loved, just as any tourist would. The only difference was the selfish component involving my pure enjoyment of painting was vital to my purpose in being there. My love of painting gave me the drive to continue working for hours, which provided the opportunity for these interactions with community members to occur. The universal interest in something as simple as a mural on a wall in a place where it is unexpected enabled me to immerse myself within the community and raise awareness about the declining population of the Andean Bear.
Life on the Border by R ache l S a cks
ana and Zbyněk Vlk live on the Czech-Polish border on the empty outskirts of a village, Jindřichovice pod Smrkem, accessible only by a series of increasingly remote train and bus rides. I stayed with the Vlks–whose last name means “wolf”–in their 300-year-old farmhouse, without electricity or running water, as part of my abroad experience, in order to get a sense of Czech life outside the hub of Prague. Surrounded by their 21 animals, (of whose names I managed to learn 17) the Vlks live simply: waking with the sun, bathing and cooking with well water, and using firelight to stay warm. They live within walking distance from the Polish border, beneath a mountain range (pod Smrkem means “under spruces”) that traverses the two countries. Their story might evoke images of quaint, old traditions and past generations, even eras, but the VIks are neither old nor descendants of this land. Looking at them, you might peg them for young hippies, or eco-villagers. Jana looks younger than her approximate 30 years; she is petite with waist-length brown hair that she keeps down, echoed by the long flowing skirts she wears. Zbyněk, a bit older, is tall with a thick beard and glasses, evoking the image of a rustic John Lennon. Jana grew up in the city, while Zbyněk comes from a more rural, farming background. Neither was raised in this unconventional manner; both adopted their alternative way of life. The Vlks represent an alternative, conscious cultural shift, embodying a modern environmentally-minded turn towards the past. Their farmhouse and the surrounding area form a living, openair museum called the Skanzen. Outside the farmhouse in the surrounding woods, they have created signs, statues and various markers that describe the history of the land and the past cultures of those who once lived there, in the hope of making people more conscious of the environmental and cultural landscape. What makes this land so culturally significant? The Vlks live in the region called the Sudetenland, which was mostly inhabited by Germans for centuries until their expulsion following World War Two. If you were to look at this beautiful countryside, you would not think of the trauma experienced here, but upon further inspection, signs emerge: the odd, haunting
ONE W ORLD
FALL 2 0 11
barrenness of the land with endless fields; remnants of burned homes, destroyed during the expulsion, are now heaps of bricks. After the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans, Czechs relocated here, though not nearly replacing in number those who left. The region is marked by a profound cultural disruption; the communities here were patch-worked together, artificially and without much thought. Sixty years later, the legacy of this discontinuity remains: vacant homes and vacant land, empty factories from the German era, social distance and conflict among the townspeople due to discordant attitudes and traditions. People like the Vlks settle here in reaction to the mainstream culture that has been established over the last sixty years. They are ecologically and culturally minded and try to honor the lost culture of the land as well as the people whose lives and communities were uprooted. They seek to connect the present to the past, honor the roots of the land, and in doing so heal the lingering effects of the
Top: roadside sign for the Skanzen; Bottom: far mhouse in Poland, near the Czech-Polish border
Jana and the students gather at a fenced anthill near the Skanzen
Zbyn ěk adjusting one his handmade signs that for m the outdoor museum
trauma. They try to form a more conscious community by holding meetings with likeminded individuals from the alternative and Roma communities, and by trying to bring about change in small but meaningful ways. One such way is their reaction to the mainstream culture of smoking and drinking. Before the new community formed here, the only place of leisure was a smoky pub; recent newcomers have established a smoke-free cafe. Their environmental consciousness emerged in several ways during our brief stay. Jana spoke about her cow, Monika, in anthropomorphic terms, calling her “her” rather than “it,” and describing the emotions she experienced as the only cow on the farm. Monika had been lonely, and ran away to a nearby farm to join some males. Monika also wore a necklace around her neck instead of an invasive tag pierced in her ear like the cows on the nearby farms. These small, mundane moments spoke of the respect Jana and Zbyněk demonstrated for animals and for life in all forms. Another example of an emergent, environmentally-conscious culture, beyond just the Skanzen, appeared during a walk we had through the woods on and surrounding the Skanzen. We encountered a bizarre structure: an absurdly large mound fenced-in on all sides. It was an unusually large anthill belonging to a rare, special kind of ant. The local people built
the fences to protect the ants from wild boars, an act demonstrating their pride towards this distinctive aspect of the local environment and their respect towards these creatures. The cultural efforts of the newer, alternative communities extend beyond the village and even past country borders. Newcomers have fostered social alliances with like-minded activists and young people in Poland. Under communism, Zbyněk tried to organize an open-border day where people could cross the closed borders, but was arrested in his attempt. In the postcommunist democracy, with open borders they can cross freely, it has become easier to organize and connect civic initiatives and communities in the border towns. Despite the good that they do, Jana and Zbyněk’s countercultural lifestyle is not without its controversy or enemies. On the second evening of our stay, two other students and I attended a village ball, an annual event that attracts people young and old, and features a bar and live band. This ball, emblematic of mainstream culture in the village, was one of the few times we had a chance to interact with people outside the smaller alternative community in the village. After the ball ended, a man from the village drove us home and criticized our hosts. Others in the village, including this man, called Jana and Zbyněk “extreme” in a derogatory and insulting matter. But their lifestyle was not extreme—it was merely different. At mealtime—the place of our most meaningful conversations with her—Jana shared her transition to life on the Skanzen. The differences that characterized their life materialized in the most basic, essential ways: how Jana grew accustomed to the distinctive quiet that is characteristic of life without modern amenities. Jana, having adapted to the silence of their home absent of electricity and wires, could now detect a buzzing when around electricity. I likened this sensation to a “drill of modernity” and sought it out when I returned from my five blissful, peaceful days–intensely cold and not without difficulties—on the Skanzen. But I could not hear electricity as Jana had. I did not feel like I gained this sixth sense of sorts, but I did feel a loss without the level of intention, consciousness and care that I experienced on the Skanzen—an enclave on the border.
A Family Affair by D a nie l S ta r osta
To the right, both the forks and the pin show the symbol of Atletico Madrid, one of the major soccer teams that drives Madrid’s passionate soccer culture and an important aspect of living in the Spanish capital.
I almost went hungry for soccer. Not in a theatrical, poetic sense, but in that, well, I almost did not eat. Real Madrid, recently coined the best soccer club of the 20th century, had lost to Levante FC, something like a junior varsity high school team and my Spanish host-mother, as devout a Catholic as she is a “Madridista,” was beside herself. She was simply too distraught to cook. She yelled on the phone about the ref, the coach, the red card, anything to take her mind elsewhere. Here in the Spanish capital, the relationship people have with soccer has a tangible influence on everything from first meetings to family dynamics. Certainly Madrileños are learned on issues like education, employment, and immigration as they grow up, but they are raised on the fault lines that mark the soccer pitch. Fathers teach their sons how to ride a bike, and what jersey is the only one he should care about; mothers how to tie his shoes, and all the team songs he should learn. My host dad joked that when his son was born, his biggest fear was that he would grow up to be a Real Madrid fan. When he found out I was an Atletico fan, he was ecstatic: finally, someone living under his roof that he could root with—his wife and son, after all, rooted for Real Madrid, the ever-hated foe. For Madrid residents it is either Atletico Madrid or Real Madrid, and your team is a part of you, for better or worse. My host mom joked—I think she was joking—that if Barcelona, a rival of Real
ONE W ORLD
FALL 2 0 11
Madrid, won a game against AC Milan she was not cooking dinner. And that I was lucky my Chivas Guadalajara jersey just happens to look like an Atletico jersey, because if not, I’d probably have to make my own lunch. And how people in the next apartment over light candles when Real Madrid is playing a difficult game, to give them good luck, or when Barcelona is doing the same, to give them bad luck. I asked the doorman where the closest Corte Ingles is, where I can buy tickets for the next Atletico game, and after giving me directions asked what game it was for. I told him. He gave me a look of genuine, though friendly, pity. “Ah, you are one of the sufferers.” At the game, some fans wore not pro-Atletico apparel, but instead anti-Real-Madrid apparel—for the most part, the two go hand in hand. After Atletico had lost a week earlier, I went out with some friends in Plaza del Sol, where 10 or so Spanish girls my age who were probably a little drunk were singing “Atleti, Atleti, Atletico de Madrid,” one of the stadium songs as they walked. A man sitting on a ledge, smiling but confused, yelled back, “wait...but they lost!” One of the girls gave him the finger. There is a foosball table in a bar down the street from my house where the players are painted in red and white striped vs all white—Atletico vs Real, the eternal, though lopsided, rivalry. The sports section in one of the local newspapers is actually divided into sections about Real Madrid and Atletico
Madrid, rather than by sports. There is a third section for relevant FC Barcelona, and a small fourth section for all other matches in all other sports. Teams have their own museums. My host dad refuses to wear his red and white Atletico jersey when he watches games in his own living room because of the bad luck it incurred in the past. Instead he wears his scarf, but only in the second half over his blue jersey. And he has his other jerseys waiting in the closet in case of emergency. At dinner I ask when the last time Atletico beat Real was, expecting sometime in his youth. Reacting to the question, his wife laughs. The way futbol manages to sneak into every aspect of daily life, from the morning commute to the evening meal, it is something I do not even know how to properly explain. Every joke, whether in the home or the workplace, somehow makes
it back to the field and vice versa. It is not that they take it more seriously here, it is simply that futbol is not a Monday-nightonly phenomenon, but Tuesday through Sunday just the same. It is a way of life, simple and pure. It is just, I do not know, cool. Families work around the allegiance its members have to clubs, and when it does not pass from father to son, like what happened in my own host family, it turn into a true calamity.
There is a shirt sold in the streets around Vicente Calderon stadium that I saw at the last Atletico game I attended. The back, in a simple but profound message, says “por esto soy del atleti.” “This is why I am for Atleti”. Around that stand were some thirty thousand people, dressed in their finest red and white Atleti apparel, filling up the streets that police had closed off so that the area around the stadium turned into a giant block party. The atmosphere created by the passionate fans was amazing. Fathers taking sons, entire families wearing matching jerseys, complete strangers bonding over something deeper than a game. I realized “this” is not why I am an Atleti fan, though it does not hurt. It is simply why I love this city, and why all it takes is a metro ride to the rojiblanco crowds to feel like a part of the big, happy, loud, raucous party of a family.
Hours after the game, elsewhere in the city I am sitting outside at a kebab joint finishing up a delicious meal when my Atleti scarf, hanging over the chair, falls off ontothe floor. As I turn to go grab it, a man walking by picks it and sort of hesitates for a moment as he looks at it. With a grin, he gives it back. “Aunque seas del Atleti.” “Even though you’re an Atleti fan.” It was a perfect moment. All the reluctant camaraderie and jokes and friendliness that comes with a city that lives sometimes at the whim of the season. Whatever dislike of the team is trumped by a love for the sport and the culture that surrounds it. Because “aunque seas del Atleti,” whoever you might be, you still get it. And that’s worth something more than any amount of Euros I pay to watch a futbul game.
Creating Rainbows Out of Darkness text and photos by Pria Mahadevan
One of my favorite activities as a child was plopping down with a fresh box of crayons and a thick pad of paper and drawing whatever came to mind. Looking back at a stack of those lopsided drawings, I found dozens of paintings of the flowers in my backyard, portraits of my family holding hands, and an embarrassing number of rough sketches of my beloved cat. My childhood art reveals so much of my early life; there is just something about the way a kid conveys pure, raw emotion through their heavy-handed artwork that has the power to catch even the most sophisticated artist off—guard. A little over a decade later, I found myself working as a first grade teacher at the Parikrma School for slum children in Bangalore, India. Going there, I was very aware that these children were experiencing much different childhoods from that of my own. These were kids who lived in darkness—their parents were absent or abusive, their families lived on about two dollars per day, their older siblings frequently disappeared and rarely came back, and their houses were about 20 square feet or so with a blue tarp pulled across the top in an attempt to keep out
ONE W ORLD
FALL 2 0 11
monsoon rains. I was certain that no one had ever sat down these children and asked them to draw and was not really sure what they could draw if given the chance. One morning, I found my answer as the school’s art teacher walked in and presented each child with a crisp sheet of white paper and a thick sharpie marker. “I want you to draw me a carnival,” he instructed, folding his arms across his chest as he looked over the wide-eyed class. Excitement immediately rippled across the room as they began to whisper to each other, “Wow, a carnival! What luck!” The excitement quickly shifted to confusion, however, as it turned out that none of the children had ever seen a carnival before, and only vaguely knew about them from the pictures of Ferris Wheels in their storybooks. “What shall we draw?” they asked. I shot a skeptical glance at the art teacher. How were the kids supposed to draw something they had never even seen before? Sure enough, a few brave kids uncapped their sharpies and began to run squiggly lines across the immaculately clean white paper. At first, I had this gut instinct to stop them—no! you are going to mess it up! you do not even know what you are drawing!—but they kept going, blotchy black on perfect white. I found myself incredibly nervous as I watched all thirty kids draw the most random things on their papers—I saw palm trees, music notes, aquariums, and even Santa Claus lining the borders of their pages haphazardly. How was this a carnival? Gently, I prodded one boy and asked him if his drawing was what he thought a carnival really looked like. He responded self-assuredly, “Akka (older sister), this is my carnival.” Soon enough, the art teacher began to hand out brand new sets of crayons to each child and bright colors began to pop
up all around the room. There is nothing— no words, descriptions, even pictures— that can truly explain how powerful those moments were. These children—kids who had never even seen a carnival, who had barely ever done art—had somehow taken a few stray lines on the page and turned them into a burst of color in an unwittingly compelling testament to their own existence. I watched in awe as they created masterpieces of innocence and resilience, of love and forgiveness, of hope and wonder. For the last two years, ever since I started working with Parikrma, I have struggled to make sense of this profound experience. What have I learned from these brave, loving, vivacious children? Ultimately, these kids taught me how to see life through the eyes of a child again— something that is easy to forget, but not so difficult to remember. I saw with my very eyes that for a young child living in darkness, there is always light. Out of nothing, they will inevitably produce a rainbow.
Botswana and Namibia:
a visual perspective tex t an d ph o to s by Jen ny Rowl e y I believe that travel has the power to shape me into a global citizen. I have grown very fond of going to the most marginalized and remote places I can find. This summer, my travels took me on a photo-expedition through Namibia and Botswana to capture the village life of various indigenous groups in the area. In the months preceding my trip, I set myself to the task of becoming au current with the culture, politics, and religions of the groups I would be visiting. What struck me the most in my studies was the pervasive concern amongst scholars and social advocates that many of indigenous groupsâ€™ traditional lifestyles were slowly disintegrating. Blame for this is commonly placed on the groupsâ€™ respective governments that have pushed for regulations on hunting for hunter-gatherer groups, imposed housing taxes on ancestral lands, or simply forcibly relocated whole villages to government land. This social conflict, which is also very common for many other indigenous groups all over the world, really sparked my interest, and perhaps you could say that I attempted to view the villagers I met through a lens of government paternalism and cultural homogenization.
ONE W ORLD
FALL 2 0 11
To the Himba people of Namibia, red is the color of the earth and symbolizes oneâ€™s connection with nature. Women cover themselves in a red-clay and ochre paste to give their skin a beautiful red hue and protect it from the sun. A similar clay paste is used to cover pieces of hair, giving Himba women their trademark hairstyle.
As much as I would have liked to see the villagers living off government-controlled jobs as a positive testament to modernity, I simply could not. All I saw was deep sadness and nostalgia for past traditions that have slowly been threaded out of the villagersâ€™ lives. For the first time, I actually understood the value of different cultures existing in their own unique contexts, hoping to achieve their own unique goals. Living my whole life in America has raised me with a very misguided view of diversity; I was taught to value diversity only when it brought to light people and cultures who could add to the overall progression of society. I was never taught to value the cultures that many see as backwards, juvenile, or primitive. But as I went on my journey through Namibia and
ONE W ORLD
FALL 2 0 11
Botswana, visiting five different villages of three different ethnic groups, I began to see something truly fantastic about these cultures that has forever changed my ideas about diversity as a social mechanism. The villages that were allowed to practice their traditional customs served as living contradictions to my ideas of family, community, and what it means to be happy. Not to sound like a romantic apostle for all indigenous traditional cultures, but therein lies the actual value of diversity. Allowing those cultures that posit us fundamental questions about our ideals to exist in their free form would benefit our world far more than if we smothered them. I am not saying that we should abandon our first-world pursuits and ambitions to become like the people I visited in Africa, but I challenge the
notion that all cultures should be pushed in a linear mode of progression for the sake of modernity. I have put together this photo essay with the hope that I can convey the stunning beauty of the villagers I met and the traditional cultures that they have maintained in a world defined by change and progression. Even in those villages that are now located on government land and have been forced to abandon many of their traditional ways, ideals have been passed down through generations and remain quite unyielding. Though these indigenous groups may not exist in the future and their cultures may be lost, I want to pay tribute to them as extraordinary peoples who have always remained loyal to their roots.
The San, also known as the Bushmen, are among the last hunter-gatherers in the world. I visited Kadwani, a government-controlled village in Botswana that is located right outside of Khutse National Park in the southern region of the country. The San children of Kadwani are required to attend the school located in their village. Many adult villagers feel that the school has taught their children to be ashamed of their Bushmen heritage and traditional upbringings. The second San village I photographed, called Kigauwa, was in a very remote part of the Kalahari Desert about three hours away from Kadwani. This village refused to move to government-owned land and was thus marginalized from other, more compliant, San villages. They are not allowed to hunt for food and must rely on the few goats donated to them by a nonprofit a few years ago.
â€œA house is made of walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams.
- William A. Ward
ph o t o by C onsta ntino S chi l l eb eeck x
The Future of Urban Design by E lai n e Sto k es
In the United States, independence is a virtue held above almost all others. Throughout our country’s history, those individuals who made their own way are held in the highest esteem. Then, with the invention and popularization of the automobile, almost everyone gained access to the ultimate symbol of independence; car owners have the ability to go where they want, when they want without depending on anyone else to get there. Then came the next symbol of American independence: the house in the suburb. Following World War II and continuing into the 1950s and 1960s, the average American family could have their own mini-estate, away from the crimes and hassles of a city. This city of St. Louis itself demonstrates the mass exodus of middle and upper class (caucasian) individuals from the city to the country during this time; this pattern continues today. In the suburbs, Americans can find their very own American Dream. However, only a handful of individuals have stopped to consider what we have sacrificed for this ideal of independence, and the few who have questioned the way our social structure is heading have been tuned out. Jane Jacobs is one of the few to challenge the status quo and bring new ideas to the table regarding the way American society operates. Despite being heralded as a visionary in the urban design and city planning fields
for her book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jacobs’ ideas have been largely ignored by designers and developers of urban and suburban areas. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Death and Life’s publication, yet the concepts outlined
in it cannot be found in most American cities. In this work, Jacobs outlines a new way to layout urban areas that focuses on building an enjoyable, safe community rather than catering to individuals’ desires for independence and seclusion. Rather than splitting developments up based on use (residential being kept separate from retail and industrial), Jacobs advocates the “mixed-use” design: creating areas with apartments, stores, houses, restaurants, and offices all interspersed amongst one another. When thinking of new developments nowadays, most people picture the aggregation of suburban sprawl that has become the norm. In such design, individual retreat is the primary goal: large houses separated by vast expanses of lawn and only accessible by car. No stores, gas stations, or entertainment venues are nearby, because such additions to the neighborhood would only attract the wrong kind of crowd: hoodlum youths, the poor, and the loitering unemployed. But what kind of a community does that foster? Children must be shuttled from one safe house to another for prearranged play-dates, parents commute hours everyday to get to the office, and any decision to go out becomes an excursion to a strip mall (or, even more radical, the city itself). Winding lanes meant to evoke the graceful contours of the countryside
“Why venture out of your house for a walk or a bike ride if there is nothing within biking or walking distance?” turn into tangled webs that act as dividers rather than connectors. But what if new developments were designed around Jacobs’s principles? The whole purpose of the community would change since Jacobs advocates for creating spaces of interaction rather than isolation. Instead of viewing mixed-use as a hazard that creates the potential for dangerous encounters with people unlike ourselves, Jacobs declares that combining
ONE W ORLD
FAL L 2 0 11
residential and commercial space fosters a safe environment. Her “eyes on the street” concept explains that a street containing apartments, grocery stores, restaurants, and bars can actually be quite beneficial because it creates a constant presence of life on the street. Store owners, like home-owners, wish to prevent vandalism, and thus will most likely step in if a problem occurs. Relatedly, restaurants and other businesses that are open late would provide a steady flow of
customers later into the night than would normally occur on a purely residential street; this presence of pedestrians discourages crimes that might take place in a more isolated location. St. Louis is a prime case study for such a design phenomena. Take a look at the neighborhoods that are thriving: Central West End, Cherokee Street, the Loop, and the Hill. All of these places incorporate housing, retail, and (to some extent) places of work. They are
areas that you want to walk around in; there are other people around engaging with their environment, and this, in turn, makes it more enjoyable for you to do the same. Places like Creve Coeur and much of Clayton do not compare to the vitality of communities with mixed use, and this is completely logical: why venture out of your house for a walk or a bike ride if there is nothing within biking or walking distance? Instead, by designing communities with parks, schools, grocery stores, pharmacies, and cafĂŠs scattered among residential blocks, residents will have greater opportunities to access their needs without relying on cars, fostering greater independence for the young, elderly, or disabled who cannot drive, and reducing our reliance on gasoline. Mixed-use design also creates an arguably healthier life where walking becomes central, and the proximity of various venues allows residents to interact more frequently with their environment and with one another. The Death and Life of Great American Cities covers a vast range of issues related to urban design, but the most relevant topic to emerge from this work is that design of public and private spaces shapes our interaction with our environment and the other people who inhabit that environment. By changing the way we think and valuing a sense of community rather than a retreat from society, there is the potential to create
â€œFurthermore, the responsia thriving, safe, and engaging environment. Furthermore, the responsibility to change the fabric of our urban environment does not fall solely on architects and urban designers; where you choose to live, the businesses you patronize, and the places you spends your time are all a powerful currency that send a message about the kind of society you support. It is only through our dayto-day actions and decisions that we can reshape our society of independent, isolated individuals into a strong, interconnected community.
bility to change the fabric of our urban environment does not fall solely on architects and urban designersâ€?
Public Housing, Student Housing, and the Modernist Mystique t e xt by JD S cott p hotos by P r ofe sso r Bo b H an sman
ONE W ORLD
FALL 2 0 11
The backgrounds are strikingly different but the image is the same. A dull, syncopated thud followed by a slowmotion cascade of concrete, glass, brick, and steel. For an instant, the building remains recognizable, a bulged iteration of its former self. And then it shifts to an odd assemblage as material meets ground; as architecture becomes rubble.
Eliot Residence Hall was imploded on June 21, 2003 in front of an expectant crowd of staff, students, and members of the surrounding community. Eliot was the remaining twin of Shepley Tower, a project brought down with great difficulty by a wrecking ball the year before. The high-rise student dormitories, products of a 1963 competition, were demolished to make room for their more updated counterparts—Lien and Dardick House; projects more characteristic of the contemporary landscape of the South Forty. In many ways these demolitions were foreshadowed by a much earlier one—the implosion of the Pruitt-Igoe public housing project in 1972. The project, an imposing complex of 33 high-rise housing blocks in lower North St. Louis, has become a symbol for the alleged failures of modernism. In its final years, Pruitt-Igoe was plagued by crime—both real and imagined—and an utter loss of humanity. And yet, at its inception, it offered residents more than they had (or could ever dream of having): indoor plumbing, sweeping views of the city from “poor man’s penthouses,” more space than the overcrowded, industrialized slums could offer. Why do projects fail? Or perhaps— why do projects succeed in some places and fail in others? Like the weavings of fact, faded memories, and mythology that comprise the stories of Eliot Tower and Pruitt-Igoe, the answers are rarely simple and often unresolved.
M Y T H O L O G Y : 1963 - 2003
Like any landmark, physical or otherwise, the history of Eliot Hall quickly gives way to mythology, and the facts fade like images on discarded newsprint. From its early days, the tower was enveloped in an aura of myth and mystique. Like Pruitt-Igoe, the quality of the place became harder and harder to classify. A beloved campus presence or an unwanted one? An experiment gone awry or a precedent for future housing projects? Good, bad, or somewhere in between, the destructive fate of both projects silenced history but fueled mythology. First there were the delays. The hall was scheduled to be open to incoming students in August of 1964; by late October, it was still unprepared for occupancy. A large group of female students, the inaugural residents of Eliot who spent much of that fall in a nearby hotel, began to suspect that the University had a tenuous interest in their well-being. During construction, some students were concerned that the post-and-beam high-rise was leaning precariously to the left. Visitors to the tower complained of tight hallways that verged on the claustrophobia, while residents of neighboring communities were concerned that the starkly modernist tower conflicted with its more conventional surroundings. And then there was a mysterious boiler-room explosion in the early weeks of occupation that filled the lower levels with smoke and prompted an
“Good, bad, or somewhere in between, the destructive fate of both projects silenced history but fueled mythology.” evacuation. While no one was injured by the blast, it did little to quell growing suspicions of the new residence hall and the modern lifestyle it championed. Yet, amid the skepticism grew a profound sense of place. Students and staff alike cherished the privileged views offered by Eliot’s cantilevered balconies; the Balloon Glow, Fourth of July celebrations—all of it enhanced by height. It is not hard to imagine that citizens of PruittIgoe shared a similar view, albeit from a radically different context. The power of architecture to unite, to cross borders and boundaries, was tangible in the project. Yet, it was the architecture that ultimately brought about the end of Eliot Hall; and it was the work of an individual that would indelibly link the mythologies of Eliot and Pruitt-Igoe. George Hellmuth—a young architect and Washington University alumnus— partnered with Minoru Yamasaki in the design of the Pruitt-Igoe housing project in the early 1950s; it was to be the first of many large-scale commissions for Hellmuth. Perhaps the most-criticized design decision in Pruitt-Igoe was its system of “skip-stop” elevators—elevators which purposely stopped on every-other floor. The intent was to allow for greater social interaction between residents. The results, however, often delved into the horrific. The same stairwells intended to be centers of neighbor-building became perpetual crime scenes, spots where the
ONE W ORLD
FALL 2 0 11
threat of assault or rape was palpable. In 1963, the entry submitted by Hellmuth and his two former schoolmates, Gyo Obata and George Kassabaum, won the competition for the design of Eliot Hall (today the firm of Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum, HOK, is one of the most influential in the world). The same system of “skip-stop” elevators was employed in the eleven-story residence hall with drastically different consequences. Elevators stopped on “mezzanine levels,” opening into doubleheight lounge spaces used by students as reading rooms and meeting spaces; stairs were required to access the odd floors. Initially, this experiment in design was perceived as an inconvenience— confusing to visitors; a minor annoyance to students as opposed to an enabler of criminal activity. Yet, as Americans became
more aware of the exclusionary nature of buildings designed without consideration for the handicapped, it became clear that changes had to be made for Eliot Hall to remain a viable living space. The passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, coupled with failed plans for renovating the space, sentenced the project to demolition. Success or failure? Eliot Hall and PruittIgoe shared a similar fate, but their stories— their mythologies—were strikingly different. The two projects existed in different contexts—one, a burgeoning university campus straddling the city-county line; the other, the DeSoto-Carr neighborhood, an urban slum historically populated by African Americans. These radically different settings account for many of their historical differences. The residents of Eliot, mostly white, never had to contend with institutional
racism, the driver behind many of the Housing Authority policies that preyed on residents of Pruitt-Igoe. Eliot Hall was wellfunded and maintained; Pruitt-Igoe, a highly sophisticated project that demanded longterm funding and specialized maintenance, was largely cut-off after its completion. If anything, the mythologies of PruittIgoe and Eliot Hall are arguments against a standardized design process—what is successful in one context can have drastically different results in another. They offer a stern warning to the architects and designers of the present: to ignore context is to marginalize the community.
C L I N TO N - P E A B O DY: Present Life on the street comes in waves here. An arriving school bus, the distant chiming of the Ice Cream Van’s bell, a group of teens meandering in the fading daylight—
all occasions for interaction, laughter, and life. These brief intervals are quickly replaced, however, by a deep vacancy, and the built landscape is left to speak for itself. The Clinton-Peabody housing project is comprised of 358 one to fivebedroom apartment units housed in long, three-story blocks. The brickwork is an unadorned homage to the St. Louis brick tradition seen in neighboring Soulard and Lafayette Square. Stoops are shared by two and sometimes three units; they project three feet above grade and are sheltered by small, sloped awnings. The stoops are in-between spaces—outdoor living rooms for children to wait for a parent to arrive, places for an elderly man to pass a warm afternoon in solitude. The sidewalks are wide and inviting, broken up by neatly manicured hedges, ornamented by faded chalk drawings. There is a distinct newness here. For
better or worse, the line between the old Clinton-Peabody and the new is hard to discern. In this frame of reference it is a pleasant place—a stark departure from the black and white photographs of Pruitt-Igoe at its zenith of devastation. And then details begin to emerge; idiosyncrasies that, once recognized, begin to alter perceptions about the place: Standardized playgrounds haphazardly dropped, it seems, into parking lots. A large community gymnasium-turnedwarehouse filled with broken or discarded appliances and furniture. Green spaces enclosed by wrought-iron fences. Caged gas and electric meters. These are the subtle reminders of the fickle nature of trust and ownership in the projects, and they are by no means confined by the boundaries of Clinton-Peabody. There is the gas station on the corner of Choteau and 14th Street, the primary food source for residents; the attendant serves customers from behind a thick glass wall, transforming the act of grocery shopping into a kind of prison visitation reenactment. The commute North across the 14th Street bridge is bleak, a traverse across an odd middle-ground of decaying infrastructure. Looming ahead are the high-rises, Busch Stadium, and the glinting of Saarinen’s arch. To the South, Clinton-Peabody sits, waiting, in an odd middle-ground of its own—an identity crisis. Success or failure? Eliot Hall or Pruitt-Igoe? A home or simply a place to stay? The answers are rarely simple and often unresolved.
The American Automobile te x t by Mi c h a e l S ava l a p h o to s by Da m i a n B ra n d o n
No one wants to deal with the frustration of having a broken down car. It forces you to either have someone pick you up and drive you around to everywhere you go or you have to deal with the problems the car gives you every time you want to go somewhere. I had these problems over the summer. I did not bring my car to college, so I was finally able to have my car back in mid-May and enjoy once again the freedom that owning an automobile enables people to have. Soon after I got my car back, my air conditioning broke, forcing me to drive in an oven during the hottest weeks in Montgomery’s history. Then my shocks went out, and my CV axle broke, and the mechanics and parts fees piled up and I either could not drive the car or just had to suck it up and have the most uncomfortable ride of my life. It is no secret that cars cost a lot of money and require copious amounts of maintenance and attention, but this
fact never really hit me until my car went through a bad spell. The design of the city of Montgomery did not help either—I had to drive to work, drive back home, drive to the mall, drive to my friend’s houses, drive to the park, and drive anywhere and everywhere else that I wanted to go. The main problems that a broken car creates stems from the design of Montgomery, which requires an automobile to access virtually every part of it, from the mall to downtown to the grocery store. A suburban city coerces its citizens to have a car, it being a mixture of the most convenient, the most popular, and the most inefficient invention in the world. Because our economy is built on the car, American cities are inefficient and exclusionary in their design. A design type that is evident in almost every American major city, especially in relatively new cities such as Los Angeles or Houston, is sprawl. Sprawl is the uncontrolled and inefficient use of land
that is based on the automobile. This type of city growth makes walking impossible because destinations are spread out incredible distances. The problems with sprawl are endless; since destinations are spread apart, people are required to use automobiles to get everywhere. Automobiles take up much more space than humans do, and they use up a lot of space themselves in the form of parking lots, parking garages, wide avenues and interstates. Since the infrastructure is based on cars, each destination is isolated from each other, so schools, malls, residences, and workplaces are all separate entities, making a sense of community unrealistically difficult to foster in such a spread out environment. In addition, many of the residents of sprawl rely on the city as their place of work. For convenience, huge highways stretch across the city so that residents of the suburbs can rush in and rush out throughout the business day. Thus sprawl
“The car symbolizes everything essential to America”
ONE W ORLD
FALL 2 0 11
costs a lot to both cities and suburbs in the way of government funding for new and improved roads. Unfortunately, much of Saint Louis’s growth—specifically beyond city limits— came as a result of sprawl. Even stores like Target which is located fairly close to a Metrolink station is designed with sprawl in mind; i.e., the priority was focused on the driver, and the pedestrian was thought of afterwards, assuming that the pedestrian was considered at all. Sensibly speaking, traveling by train removes the hassle of having a car since there are no worries of how many people
can fit in the car, whether you need to buy gas, or where you parked. But the routes to Target make the car a much more ideal mode of transportation, even with all of the hassles. Traveling by foot from the Brentwood/I-64 station to Target will require one of two paths once you have walked down the unnecessarily long pathway from the station. The path to the left goes through an industrial park full of empty parking lots and loud factories along a road (there is no sidewalk). This sounds ideal, but the path gets less appealing when the sun comes down and the path is empty, and pedestrians have to walk across
A design type that is evident in almost every American major city, especially Los Angeles or Houston, is sprawl. ”
the huge parking lot without any sidewalks or room for pedestrians, given the angry and impatient drivers that always flood store parking lots. The path to the right from the Metrolink goes along a grocery store strip mall before arriving to the Target shopping center. This also does not seem bad at first thought, but again, you are traveling across more parking lots with more impatient drivers. In addition, there is no pathway directly connecting the two shopping centers, forcing pedestrians to either walk along a fast road awkwardly straddling the grass and the concrete road or down a narrow dirt path which is clearly made only by the foot traffic of frustrated pedestrians who could not find a safer way down. Compared to this, traveling by car from campus only takes a few turns and a pretty quick arrival. Finding a parking spot is the only frustrating part of the trip. Because trips to Target always frustrate me, I do not go very often; as a college student, most of my life happens within the boundaries of campus. But for people who do not have cars and have to take the Metrolink to shop, they deal with design inconveniences like this all of the time. How would it feel to be a second thought in a design? What if the whole world was not built for you? The structure of virtually every American city incorporates sprawl into their design, but a much more efficient design decision is the use of smart growth. Used a lot more in the days before cars, modern suburbs, and million acre shopping complexes, smart growth combines all functions of a city into one place, integrating residential, commercial, and business functions of a city within proximity to each other. Rather than using the traditional land use models—huge neighborhoods going across a lot of land,
ONE W ORLD
FALL 2 0 11
along with huge busy shopping complexes— smart growth brings communities together with mixed-use land. Schools, boutiques, restaurants, residences, grocery stores, and other destinations all inhabit the same space. Smart growth prioritizes the pedestrian above the automobile; all of a person’s destinations are within the same area and are much easier to get to than turning on a car, driving to the place, and finding a parking spot. But on a deeper level, smart growth promotes community and unity as some of its core values. Traveling by foot enables people to socialize with each other, and social opportunities arise is these communities much like how they happen when trekking across campus and running into multiple friends on a single, 10-minute walk. A great neighborhood in Saint Louis that incorporate smart growth value is an old neighborhood called The Hill, the Italian neighborhood in south city famous for its many restaurants that are favorites to college students. On first glance, the houses and their front and back yards are much smaller than the typical developer suburb of today’s world, which would be seen as a drawback for people seeking their own private fortress. Despite this, however,
the houses work very well within the neighborhood. For example, the front porches are all built at the same height to enable conversations between neighbors, and streets of houses sit back to back with street of restaurants, business, stores, and schools. Furthermore, The Hill has a strong sense of community, stronger than any newly built sprawl neighborhood could create. The people know each other well, the businesses are locally owned, and each person strives to build the image of the community as a whole. The neighborhood is not completely public—houses still have their own backyards and private residences. The structure of the district, however, is much more efficient with its smaller roads and modestly-sized lots, and the close proximity of services enables a close social network between its residences. The car symbolizes everything essential to America; it gives freedom to the driver and lets him go wherever he wants. Certainly, this ideal of the automobile will remain with us for a very long time, since it is the core of many suburbs built in this period. I am not against the use of the car at all, but our reliance on the car—the fact that we have to drive to get anywhere— wastes resources and destroys the environment not only through the obvious pollution, but through the inefficient sprawl required to accommodate the car. Walking communities give everyone access to all resources, rather than limit the access of stores to just those with a car. In order to fix the environmental problems of the car, use our limited resource of land more efficiently, and rebuild the sense of community, smart growth needs to be the central idea in the design of future cities.
How Many More? t e x t by Nicole Johns o n pho t o s by John D r oll i n ger
WHAT WAS SO FUNNY? When I was seventeen, I attended the funeral of my first friend who had died. He was 21 and he was shot three times in his back. When I was 19, another young black male I knew was buried. He was 24 and he was shot in the back of his head at his home. Later that year, my boyfriend of two and a half years was killed in front of his father’s house. He was shot in his face, neck, and chest, only a few months shy of 22. On October 11, 2010, I was on the phone with my boyfriend Maurice around 11:30 pm when suddenly he stopped talking and I heard several beeps on the other end as if someone was pushing the dial pad. An hour later, his cousin called me and told me he had been shot. As I prepared to run two miles to his father’s house at Page Avenue and Union Boulevard, my neighbor came out of her apartment and offered me a ride; she said she had heard me screaming and came to see what was wrong. When we reached the house, I jumped out of the car while it was still moving and ran towards the sirens and caution tape. A police officer saw me running and threw his body in front of me, preventing me from
getting any closer. When I saw Maurice’s body lying on the sidewalk I collapsed in the officer’s arms. “Come on, you’re in the middle of the street,” he said to me. The street had been blocked off and I can only remember thinking, “is that the only thing you have to say to me? I wandered around mumbling and crying, watching his family members cry, scream and shake as if spirits were being torn out of them. We were all crazy that night. The memories come to me in surreal chunks like dreams, but I distinctly remember witnessing the police officers and detectives laughing and joking over his dead body. Witnesses say after Maurice was shot, he tried to stand three times. His father heard the shots, ran outside, and held him as he sputtered blood and trembled as death was approaching. His sister tells me when she got to the scene, even before the police, his eye was missing and his face was distorted. What was so funny? For most of us, 21 is only the beginning of life; for Maurice, it was the last birthday he would ever celebrate.
Memor ial at Goodfellow Boulevard and Mar tin Luther King Dr ive
FAMILY MEMBERS? OR EVERYONE? My story is not unique. According to the Riverfront Times, 143 people were murdered in St. Louis in 2010. The St. Louis American says of those victims, 123 were black and, 114 were black males. A third of the 143 people that were murdered were 21 and younger. We have heard that murders occur at an alarming rate among black males, and most of us speculate that those murder rates only affect people from low-income, inner city neighborhoods. I was raised in Florissant, a diverse, middle-class suburb in North County, and I had the opportunity to go to one of the best private high schools in St. Louis: Whitfield School. But these privileged circumstances did not prevent the violence in St. Louis, sustained by systematic injustices, from drastically altering my life. Three, the number of people that I know that have been murdered, is a number insignificant when compared to twelve, the number of murder victims Victoria has known in her 22 years of life. Victoria is Maurice’s step-sister, a St. Louis native who has lived on the North Side for most of her life. She is about 5’0 tall with skin as dark and rich as coffee. Her innocent smile and inviting eyes would never let you believe the grotesque stories she had to tell me. When I first asked her how many black males she has known that were murdered, she responded by asking, “Family members? Or everyone?”
ONE W ORLD
FALL 2 0 11
Her first experience with murder that she can remember was when she was about eight years old. “It was my cousin,” She said, “His name was Lamont. When I was little, I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t around. I knew he was killed, but I didn’t understand he was dead.” “When my [other] cousin got killed, I was 17,” she continued. “He got gunned down. They made him get on his knees. They shot him in the back of his head 10 times, and twice in his neck. The killing part is his mom dropped him off for a second and came right back and he was dead. She was gone for 10 minutes.” Victoria went on to list all the black, male murder victims that she knew, and could recall. “There was my cousin Lamont, my cousin Daryl, this boy Keith from my high school, this boy Kenny, this boy HB from high school, my brother, this boy that stayed up this street from me, he was really nice; he offered to carry me up the street when I was on crutches. [And] my other cousin, I barely knew him. It hurts because I didn’t get a chance to know him. It’s a lot of people; I just can’t remember all of them.” Of the eight males she knew that were killed, the youngest was 16, and the oldest, her brother Maurice, was 21. All of them were shot.
When talking to me about Maurice’s murder, she says, “I just wanted to lay down with him and die. It’s so hard to go day by day without him…There were so many things we never got to accomplish. He gave me inspiration…A lot of people tell me I look different, I act different, I’m not the same.” To her knowledge, none of the murders she mentioned have been solved, nor have there been any strong leads to finding the perpetrators. “I honestly think they don’t care,” Victoria says matter-of-factly about the police department. “I think they think: Oh, it’s another black man we don’t have to deal with, harass, lock up. I don’t think they feel like they’re worth it…It’s less work they have to do. It’s like we have the police department for nothing.” “Police officers are the most hated people in St. Louis,” she remarked with conviction. Many Black Americans see the police as perpetrating the dominant culture’s interest, which historically has included neglect and mistreatment of minority communities. Victoria’s comments represent a wide-spread belief that the police department does not “serve and protect” the black community adequately. WHY IS IT STILL HAPPENING? Aside from the fact that most of the murders in St. Louis city are not solved, I am interested in why St. Louis, and cities like it across the country, continue to have increasing murder rates despite public awareness of the thousands lost every year in this country. “Honestly, I think people are losing their minds,” Victoria explains, “The world doesn’t care about them, so they don’t care about the world. I don’t think a lot of people know what love is; they’re not shown enough love and affection.” “I think it’s a plan that was made up before I was even thought of,” Victoria says, referring to why so many murders in St. Louis city go unsolved. Through Victoria’s account alone we can gather that a number of people in the inner city feel like they cannot trust the police department and judicial system for closure when it comes to dealing with crime. Justice is not being served by the justice department; in an environment where people feel like they cannot rely on the existing institutions to handle their affairs in an appropriate and expedient manner, they do what any other human would: take justice into their own hands. The failure of the police department and government to give relevance and validity to the deaths of thousands of our youth results in an even greater increase in violence and murders in our cities, perpetuating the cycle of loss and hurt.
Maur ice’s memor ial at Page Avenue and Union Boulevard
Memor ial at Goodfellow Boulevard and Natural Br idge Ave n u e HOW MANY MORE? A quick fix to this problem does not exist. Throughout history, our government has set up a complex web of racial and social inequality that is stable enough to persist alongside widespread rejection of overt racism. For example, some say equality has been achieved, but black Americans still make up a majority of our inner city populations, and the achievement gap in education continues to widen. Nevertheless, a majority of Americans are opponents of affirmative action programs. Black Americans have been marginalized economically and educationally through centuries of systematic discrimination. These disparities persist though school zoning laws that require low-income students to attend deficient, underfunded schools in their neighborhoods, de facto segregation that works to keep Blacks in the inner city, and the ignorant assumptions of the majority, based on the limited stereotypes that the media offers. All of this, along with the police department’s failure to serve the black community, adds to the distrust and the need to create alternative solutions. One hundred fourteen black fathers, brothers, husbands, and friends were killed in St. Louis last year, just minutes away from Brookings Hall. How many more does it take for us to make genuine steps towards change?
***This article is based largely on the author’s personal experiences and conversations, and she is very open to continuing the conversation on the issues discussed in this article. Feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
ONE W ORLD
FALL 2 0 11
City Limits by M i ch ael Saval a
I once saw a shirt at a Cardinals baseball game that said “Saint Louis is Kicking Detroit’s Ass in Baseball and Crime.” Our city has been voted the “Most Dangerous City” twice. That would scare most people not from here, but this title has grown on Saint Louisans almost to the point of pride. Forbes’ famous annual list gets passed around by Yahoo!, Facebook, and Student Life and is even popularized in clothing. But if it was not for this list, I would barely even notice that I live anywhere dangerous at all. City limits—the only part of the area on which Forbes bases its rankings—extends barely beyond Skinker Boulevard. Only the art school and the new engineering buildings at Wash. U. are actually in city limits, and the rest of campus physically lies in Clayton or University City. In fact, an astonishing 2.5 million people in the Saint Louis Metropolitan Area—around 90 percent--live outside of the most dangerous city in the country. While Saint Louis may be the most dangerous city in the country, only 10 percent of those who live in the area are actually taken into consideration in this statistic. And when comparing the crime rates between the city and the rest of the surrounding counties, there is a big difference. Crimes in the city occur much more frequently than those in the immediately surrounding counties of St. Clair, Madison, St. Louis County, St. Charles, and Jefferson. Looking at current crime maps, the city always has hundreds of crimes reported, from theft and robbery to assault, compared to its surrounding areas, even as close as Wash. U., whose crime reports are much fewer and much farther between. Saint Louis has not always been famous for being the most dangerous city. In fact, it used to be a thriving American city, and also boast a large population. At its peak in the 1940s and 50s, Saint Louis had around 900,000 residents within its borders. Now only 60 years later, it barely has over 300,000 citizens. Although the city has a few new loft buildings, today the majority
of the region’s growth occurs in the single-family developments of the Metro East and St. Charles County. Why is it that American cities are filled with crime, and why do current development trends encourage more urban emptying? The origin of this national trend—people moving from violent inner cities to peaceful suburbs—is described in Mike Davis’s City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles. Davis, a college professor and professional urban analyst, portrays the national American trend that is exemplified most in Los Angeles: the wealthy (and now, the middle class) are moving to outer suburbs out of fear of the poor, leaving behind cities still dictated by powerful lawmakers who spend city money on gaining international commerce—in the form of sports venues and office skyscrapers—rather than on helping their urban poor. Davis describes how downtown Los Angeles has sectioned itself off as a place for the wealthy to do commerce, leaving the poor without a place to live or without grocery stores to buy food. Described as “totalitarian semiotics of ramparts and battlements” in the form of “reflective glass and elevated pathways,” the militantly-described Bunker Hill district of Los Angeles brought huge office buildings to the city and a lot of commerce as well. As a consequence, however, the poor citizens of the city were kicked out of their homes—kept out through these “ramparts”—and forced to move to Skid Row, an extremely impoverished part of L.A. that is described as “Friday the 13th” every night. To add insult to injury, the city harasses the poor with constant police brutality and excludes them from the business district—their former homes—by limiting the number of public restrooms and installing cruel “bumproof” benches. The poor now have no place to go since their old homes have been replaced with towering glass skyscrapers that serve no purpose for them. And
because most of them do not have the money to get out of the federal housing projects that they’ve been assigned to (that is, assuming they are lucky enough to be assigned one in the first place), most of the former urban residents cannot move to a place with the necessities required to live. The extreme resource depravation prevalent in urban conditions—the biggest ones being no access to food and lack of transportation—forces residents to live in desperate conditions on a daily basis. People lack the money to buy groceries so some resort to stealing them just to live, and certain communities rely on lucrative drug sales as a source of income. These attempts at survival—which can drive some people to commit heinous crimes—mold the central city into a haven for crime and violence. Thus, the violent American city. As a reaction to the spike in crimes in the city, people are constantly trying to flee and get to the safer suburbs, which appeal to many people with their superior school districts, shopping malls, and most importantly, lack of crime. Since the only people left in the city are largely poor, the city can’t sustain its own services because of its reduced tax base. Furthermore, the suburbs use the city for only business and tourism, prioritizing those two above the desperate citizens and sucking the city dry of the few resources it has. A very important
ONE W ORLD
FALL 2 0 11
resource that the city lacks due to its low tax base is education. The Saint Louis Public School district (SLPS) does not meet all of the academic standards of the Missouri’s education department and, as a result, does not meet the accreditation by the department as being an adequate school district. Because of poorly funded schools, students do not mark as high on proficiency exams and because of this, some do not graduate high school. Many students in urban high schools do not pursue higher education, a common requirement for most white-collar jobs in this demanding market. The social structure of our built environment creates a catch-22—cities won’t get better until people start to move in, but until they create better lifestyles through achieving school districts and safe streets, the inner-city population will remain without the proper resources to live stable lifestyles. However, in districts within the city that have the most crime, organizations are working to try and reduce crime through programs such as Weed and Seed. Weed and Seed is a national, community-based group aiming to lower violence and drug use through law enforcement groups such as churches, and community leaders. The Weed and Seed program also creates help groups to build stronger communities through peaceful means such as DEFY (Drug Education for Youth), a day camp-
type program that educates inner city youth on the dangers of drugs. On the other end of the spectrum, certain cities try to appeal to young professionals with lofts and historic downtown apartments growing in popularity. Even though these trends show promise in our cities’ futures, both will take a long time to settle in and reverse what was started nearly 60 years ago. While certain cities have caught on to the revitalization trends faster, Saint Louis will take a longer time because it has yet to find an economic or cultural base strong enough to draw in crowds of well-off newcomers. While many corporations call downtown home as well as many residents, the city lacks power compared to its metropolitan counterparts, such as downtown Clayton with its office buildings or West County with its massive shopping areas. With both of these disadvantages, as well as the fact that the city is dominated by out-of-city commuters who are given the option of four interstates that go to—and through—downtown, city revival will require the metro area to adopt an entirely different attitude for living. As more people are discovering the value of the city, the challenge of rebuilding and revitalizing the city becomes even more important. It will take everyone—both city residents and suburban dwellers—to make the urban environment work again.
An Introductory Guide to Social Entrepreneurship t e x t by S hira S a cks p ho t o s by E la ine S tok es The St. Louis metropolitan area has thousands of non-profits, almost all of which are traditional non-profit organizations that rely on grants, donations, and public funding for their operations. A new type of non-profit organization is emerging, however—one with a revenue stream, potentially allowing it to become self-sustaining. This business model encourages the sustainability of nonprofits within the increasingly restrictive fiscal climate, as the government allocates less and less funding to non-profits, and
as the demand for privately-funded grants increase.
What is a social enterprise? A social enterprise signifies any business model that uses innovation to address social issues. This ranges from innovative non-profits, to L3Cs (low-profit, low-liability corporations), LLCs (limited liability corporations), and corporations. As students, we engage numerous organizations that classify as social
enterprises. Have you ever noticed actor Paul Newman’s face on a bottle of salad dressing? Newman’s Own is, in fact, one example of the social enterprise model. In 1982, Paul Newman started a social enterprise to share his family’s recipes. When he and his wife, Joanne Woodward, went out to eat at restaurants, Newman would make his own salad dressing at the table. Instead of remaining a rude patron, Newman created Newman’s Own, a company that would eventually sell popcorn, sauces, and other food products,
in addition to salad dressings. Newman decided that he did not want to exploit his celebrity status for his company, and allocated the profits of the company to his foundation. In the past thirty years, the Newman’s Own Foundation has contributed over $300 million to thousands of charitable organizations.
What is social entrepreneurship? As Bill Drayton, the founder of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public says, a social entrepreneur tries to change the fishing industry instead of giving fish to the hungry—someone who finds an innovative solution to combat a social problem, and implements their solution by changing the existing system, spreading their model and “persuading entire societies” to join them. Drayton launched Ashoka in 1981 to foster the development of social entrepreneurs. Essentially, social entrepreneurs use the entrepreneurial process to create social impact instead of shareholder value and profit; the innovation and persistence that increase profit in entrepreneurship increase positive impact and social change. Muhummad Yunus, who some call the founder of social entrepreneurship, started Grameen Bank because he believed that collateral-free loans would be paid back with a better rate than regular loans. Although people thought Yunus was crazy, he succeeded in improving the Bangladeshi economy. What is seen as crazy at first may just be a new—a different—way to solve a problem; according to Greg Van Kirk, this is social entrepreneurship. After working in investment banking for five years, Van Kirk quit his job and joined the Peace Corps. He had always planned to use the business knowledge and skills he had accumulated to make a social impact, and while in the
ONE W ORLD
FALL 2 0 11
Peace Corps, he found the mission that fit his values. In the Guatemalan villages, Van Kirk observed that the people lacked access to basic technologies that could alleviate the villages’ economic, environmental, health, and energy problems. He developed the MicroConsignment model to bring goods and services—such as eyeglasses, wood-burning stoves, and water filters—to villages that currently do not have access to them, while empowering local women to become entrepreneurs. Instead of distributing the products as charity, the model gives local women the opportunity to sell the products to generate income for their families and become self-sufficient. In selling the products, the women do not provide any collateral; they sell the goods on consignment, and if they cannot sell the goods due to a lack of demand, there is no liability or costs to them. Van Kirk has implemented this model through his organization, Community Enterprise Solutions, and his program for young entrepreneurs to intern abroad, the Social Entrepreneur Corps. Van Kirk has expanded the model outside of Guatemala and Ecuador to Mexico, Paraguay, and Nicaragua, and works with groups around the world to find new locations to build networks of local entrepreneurs who can then set up their own MicroConsignment models.
Has St. Louis caught onto the “social” movement yet? In St. Louis, individuals and organizations have created networking and funding opportunities for social enterprise start-up ventures and social entrepreneurs. Chris Miller, the founder of The Mission Center, L3C, has teamed with the Regional Chamber & Growth Association, Justine Petersen, the Kauffman Foundation, and
the Deaconess Foundation to found the St. Louis Social Venture Capital Fund, L3C. Theresa Wilson, the founder of The Blessing Basket Project, Miller, and Mayor Francis Slay declared September 13th “Social Enterprise Day,” and held a week of social enterprise events this past September. Miller is working with the national Social Enterprise Alliance to reinvigorate a St. Louis Chapter and provide networking events every month for social entrepreneurs. Although it is in its beginning stages, St. Louis entrepreneurs are building an infrastructure to develop social entrepreneurs and to fund social enterprises to address St. Louis’ numerous social problems.
Can I do anything entrepreneurialrelated as a student? There are increasing opportunities for students to engage in social enterprise education and development, both in St. Louis and abroad. Through the Skandalaris Center Internship Program, I managed marketing and sales for Consolare, the start-up venture of the Crime Victim Advocacy Center. Consolare produces hand-poured candles and handmade cards and pillows, the proceeds of which fund services for victims of crime and violence. My sister, senior Rachel Sacks, worked at North Grand Neighborhood Services, the organization that produces Angel Baked Cookies. Angel Baked Cookies, which are sold at food venues on campus, are made by St. Louis teens in a professional development program. Senior Deanna Parrish interned at Ashoka last summer, developing connections with both academics and practitioners in the field, while junior Brittany Cronin interned with Van Kirk’s Social Entrepreneur Corps and hopes to do the program again.
I want to do more! How can I become a social entrepreneur or start a social enterprise? It may seem difficult to become a social entrepreneur because it is not a traditional profession. And it very well may be. But like other professions and fields, social entrepreneurship requires networking, skills, and dedication. To get involved, social entrepreneurs recommend doing one of two things— working for a social venture or getting critical business skills. Nancy Lublin, the founder of DoSomething. org, encourages graduates to start their own companies if they have an idea for an innovative business model, or to join an existing company or a start-up; Wash U students and alumni are doing exactly this. Cat Yeung, a 2011 alumna, is working on starting the Old North Commercial Kitchen to create new business and revitalize existing business in North St. Louis; senior Mike Burnstein and recent graduate David Spandorfer have founded a running apparel company, Janji, to address malnutrition and unclean water problems in developing countries; and S.W.A.P., or Sharing with a Purpose, is a student-owned and operated business that facilitates re-use of student items through sales in the fall, and donates the proceeds to the Ronald McDonald house. Other social entrepreneurs recommend aspiring social entrepreneurs to work in the for-profit sector, as Greg Van Kirk did, while developing an interest in social issues; this can be done by networking, joining a professional organization, or
joining an advisory board of a social venture. Ultimately, as an emerging field composed of passionate, energetic, and idealistic individuals, it is never too late to get started. But if you do not want to wait…
6. Join a national organization, such as the Social Enterprise Alliance, or an innovative student group, such as Engineers Without Borders, Net Impact, GlobeMed, or the EnCouncil.
The Top 10 things to do to get involved
5. Take a class on entrepreneurship, such as Social Entrepreneurship, Introduction to Entrepreneurship, or The Hatchery, or participate in the Taylor Community Consulting Program through the Center for Experiential Learning.
10. Contact Stacia Burd of the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies or Stephanie Kurtzman of the Gephardt Institute for Public Service to connect with past program participants and learn more about opportunities on campus. 9. Learn about the field by visiting ashoka.org or by reading one of the many books on social entrepreneurship, including those by David Bornstein, C. K. Prahalad, Gregg Vanourek, Kevin Lynch, and J. Gregory Dees. 8. Visit a local social enterprise, such as the recently opened The Juice Box Healthy Corner Stores, L3C, or S.W.A.P, or Sharing with A Purpose, a social student enterprise at Wash U. 7. Network with social entrepreneurs through social media and the Career Center, by attending Social Enterprise Alliance events and visiting speakers’ lectures on campus.
4. Browse GivetoGetJobs.com, a website that helps people find jobs in social enterprises or corporate social responsibility, to learn about and apply for jobs in the for-profit sector that address social problems. 3. Apply to work at a social venture through the Skandalaris Center Internship program, with a social change grant from the Gephardt Institute, with a stipend from the Career Center, or through Greg Van Kirk’s Social Entrepreneur Corps. 2. Found or team up with a venture in the Social Enterprise and Innovation Competition, in which you can win up to $45,000 for your venture. 1. Start your own social venture!
More Than Just a Shelter
ONE W ORLD
Little did I know at the time that for the next three months I would be working with the women who singlehandedly were changing the landscape of the Middle East. tex t an d p h o to s by A l l e g ra Sk u rk a
FALL 2 0 11
Walking up the stairs of the Jordanian Women’s Union (JWU) program building in Amman was like receiving an overview of all the different abuses women must endure. First floor: medical clinic. Second floor: children’s guest house, a place where divorced parents can visit their children in an environment less hostile than a police station. Third floor: crisis hotline that provides legal and psychological counseling. Fourth floor: shelter. The shelter looked a lot like my traditional dorm room from sophomore year.In the common room there was a TV, couch, blankets, chairs, and a coffee table. Several bedrooms opened up into the common room, each with two occupants and a private bathroom. A young South Asian girl wearing a Hello Kitty t-shirt lounged on the couch watching TV as I walked in. “Marhaban.” Hello, I said to her in Arabic. I was nervous because I felt as if I were intruding on her personal space. “Hi. How are you doing?” she replied in perfectly accented American English, completely unfazed at seeing me and cheerful to boot. I barely had time to be surprised before I was introduced to another resident of the shelter, an older Iraqi woman. It was dark in the room and her hijab was so voluminous I could barely see her face, but even that could not hide the scars. She greeted us and then continued on her way down to the kitchen. “She’s one of the victims of the war,” Hala, a lawyer at the JWU, explained in a somber voice as we descended back down the staircase. “She’s been here for many months now; who knows how much longer she’ll need.” Thirteen years ago, women in the Middle East had no such safe space to retreat to when they needed protection. In a society in which domestic matters are dealt with largely by traditional Islamic family law that provides women with much less
agency than men, and internal disputes are meant to be private and not public affairs, political and social space had to be created in the community before a women’s shelter could be established. Interning at such a trailblazing organization as the JWU during my study abroad in Jordan exposed me to a side of the country I would never have expected to see. For my “Community-Based Learning”
of the woman. Not only do they provide sanctuary, a free medical clinic, and legal and psychological counseling, but they also help the women become independent. Women at the shelter have the opportunity to cook in the JWU’s kitchen, work at its beauty salon, take computer lessons, attend jewelry making lessons, and learn other crafts and trades through workshops and classes. While it is certainly helping
While it is certainly helping these
women become more economically independent, what the JWU is really doing is instilling in these women a sense of worth and pride. class, I had requested to work with an organization concerned with providing for the disenfranchised, in whatever form. Little did I know at the time that for the next three months I would be working with the women who single-handedly were changing the landscape of the Middle East. In 1999, the JWU opened the doors to the first women’s shelter in the entire Arab world, from Morocco to Iraq. Other countries soon followed suit, and their appearance was a tangible sign of a slow change in society. Another shelter opened in Jordan in 2007, but this time it was a governmental shelter. The event was significant, but more symbolic than helpful. For the first three years of its existence, the governmental shelter only accepted women of Jordanian nationality, thus excluding the millions of Palestinian and Iraqi refugees, South Asian domestic workers, and other foreign women, many of whom especially needed the services provided by a shelter. For them, the only option was to turn to the JWU. Compared to the governmental shelter, the JWU provides more than just refuge; it aims for the long-term empowerment
these women become more economically independent, what the JWU is really doing is instilling in these women a sense of worth and pride. With higher self-confidence and self-esteem, these women have a chance at a better life. The model of survivor support through empowerment that the JWU embodies is now being spread throughout the Arab world. The JWU is currently heading an initiative to establish similar shelters in Lebanon and Egypt at this time when the political and social space in the region is being upended. It is becoming more and more critical, now more than ever, that quality survivor support be available to women in these countries. The effectiveness of the JWU’s approach can be seen in many places, including their kitchen. Almost every woman who works in that kitchen has at some point sought out the services of the organization and desired to give back in some way. Though the Jordanian Women’s Union provides an entire spectrum of services and programs, its mission is the same regardless of what floor you find yourself on: empowering women to empower others.
More Than Just Trade
by S ie nna Ma lik
LIMA—Evangelina Pizarro left her village near Cusco, Peru, when she was 17, in search of work and a means of improving her life. What she found instead was a job at a Lima jewelry factory, where she would spend up to 80 hours a week. For her labor, she earned only $115 a month and there was no guarantee that the pay would arrive on time. Eva spent seven years working under these exhausting conditions. Deciding that she deserved better treatment, Eva sought to escape this oppression by establishing a business of her own. Though her first attempt failed, Eva was determined to create a better life for herself. She and her former coworkers founded an artisan group named
ONE W ORLD
FALL 2 0 11
Munay Rumi in hopes of producing jewelry to export to other nations. Eva then discovered a fair trade organization in Peru that paid its artisans fair wages and helped them find an international market for their products—Partners for Just Trade, a group based right here in St. Louis in the Tower Grove neighborhood. PJT took off in 2007 as an initiative of the Presbyterian Hunger Program. Since then, the organization has worked with 16 Peruvian artisan groups, as well as co-operatives in Nicaragua and Cameroon, allowing them to establish themselves as successful and sustainable businesses. Looking for an outlet for my passion for fair trade, I began working with this organization in July.
Since then, I have learned how nonprofits such as Partners for Just Trade function, and how important it is that we maintain close contact with our artisans, assuring that they have the materials they need and advising them on product design. Although Eva and other Munay Rumi members had years of experience in jewelry factories and superb technical skills, Partners for Just Trade noted that many of their products resembled the mass-produced ones available in the mainstream market. Recognizing the group’s dedication to fair trade, Partners for Just Trade sent their sales coordinator in the spring of 2009, jewelry designer Peggy Eng, to Peru. Peggy’s involvement
“When you work with people who have been oppressed for a long time, they don’t know how to think for themselves anymore.” with Partners for Just Trade had started that previous year, when she was working on store displays for Plowsharing Crafts, a fair trade store with a location on the Delmar Loop. After networking with local fair trade efforts, Partners for Just Trade discovered that Eng was a jeweler and requested her help in improving some of their jewelry designs. When given the opportunity to travel to Peru, Peggy was glad to take on the task, but first wanted the consent of Munay Rumi. When the artisans welcomed the help, Peggy was off to Lima. During her trip, Peggy’s goal was to help Munay Rumi develop a distinctive style. Rather than simply telling the artisans what products to make, Peggy had them draft up their own ideas and took them through a creative process which involved drawing designs with attention to aesthetic principles such as visual weight and balance. This type of individual advising resonated with the artisans: When asked about her most vivid memory of working with the group, Eng recalls, “When I first began working with Munay Rumi, I asked each member to choose a piece from their portfolio and tell me why they liked it. They had an extremely difficult time answering me because no one had ever asked them what they thought about their work before.” Later, an older local explained to her that “when you work with people who have been oppressed for a long time, they don’t know how to think for themselves anymore”. Partners for Just Trade has noted a newfound sense of independence and heightened self-esteem in many of its artisans over the years. In addition to this personal growth, Partners for Just Trade has also found
success in what it initially set out to do: provide its artisans with the means to escape poverty. Thanks to the involvement of Partners for Just Trade and the organization’s supporters, Munay Rumi’s sales have increased 600 percent since they began to export jewelry in 2007. We at Partners for Just Trade now hope to help our other artisan groups in the same way—in September we sent a liaison, Jessica Penner, to Peru to work directly with all of our groups. One can say that fair trade has taken off recently. In September, a quarterly report released by SPINS, a market research and consulting firm for the Natural Products Industry, announced a 63 percent increase in sales of fair trade products since their last report. Moreover, with an increased interest in these products, they are becoming easier to find. In October, as part of their World Fair Trade Month celebration, Fair Trade USA released a facebook and mobile application to help users locate stores carrying the 10,000 products the organization has certified. The movement is sure to attract new supporters. Furthermore, this year’s World Fair Trade Month is being promoted by popular organizations and figures such as Ben & Jerry and Michael Franti. As for Partners for Just Trade, Peggy hopes that the organization “finds the resources it needs to help all its artisan groups achieve economic stability and self-sustainability,” and adds that hopefully the “fair trade movement achieves mainstream recognition.” Given what involvement in fair trade has done for artisans such as Eva and her fellow Munay Rumi members, I look forward to seeing what else groups such as Partners for Just Trade can accomplish.
Food as a Right: How One City Redefines Hunger by He nr y Osman Brazil is plagued by economic inequality, and the city of Belo Horizonte in the southeast is no exception. The standard of living in the eastern areas of the city is higher than that of Scandinavia, while the standard in the western areas is below that of North Africa. Yet in this highly stratiﬁed society no one is going hungry. Belo Horizonte has been at the forefront of the food security movement since 1993, arguing that access to food, and good food, is a right of Brazilian citizens. These amazing results are due to one man, Mayor Patrus Ananias, who decided to involve the community in the ﬁght against hunger. He used citizens to help allocate food, ensuring that everyone had the right to sustenance. Local produce was encouraged, the government incentivized organic and sustainable agriculture, and dozens of farm stands opened up across the city. Ananias even created an agency, SMAB, to specifically address hunger. The small changes in policy beneﬁts everyone. Wholesalers were taken out of the equation which allows for cheaper prices for the citizens and higher profits for the small scale farmers. The money stays in the local economy rather than contributing to large corporations. Their food revolution is about more than ending hunger; it is about taking back the food system for the people. Just this one measure, bringing the farmer to the consumer, transformed the rural and urban landscapes, supporting local jobs and increasing the ties between the city and the countryside. Another important tool he used was state subsidization of healthy food. The government created “ABC” markets, which in Portuguese means “food at low prices,” that sell healthy produce at two-thirds of its normal price. This allows healthy food to compete with subsidized processed food. Still, Ananias acknowledges that not everyone has time to make food from scratch. “Restaurantes Populares,” or People’s Restaurants, were then set up to offer cheap meals.
ONE W ORLD
FALL 2 0 11
Everyone can eat here, and 16,000 people a day do. It is not just the poor; all people have a right to cheap and healthy food. A meal can be bought for less than 50 cents. This has even changed the social structure of the city. Before, due to extreme inequality, there existed little interaction between the classes. Now, however, middle class families eat next to impoverished ones, allowing all people to enjoy their food without stigma. Thirty-eight percent of all residents, or 800,000 people use these programs, which has helped the community develop together. Nevertheless, these changes do not just affect Brazil’s current population as Belo Horizonte understood that they had to change how the next generation related to food as well. They developed school gardens and used whole and local produce in the free school lunches. An important part of their food philosophy is to avoid waste, which can be seen through the bread used for school lunches that is enriched with cassava and egg shells for added nutrients. What is most amazing about Belo Horizonte is that the entire project is carried out using only 10 million U.S. dollars per year in a city that has over 2.5 million people. It proves that food can be treated as a basic right, just like education or health care, and that the government can, and should, make sure that it is provided to its citizens. Over 17 million households in the United States are currently food insecure. Food is a right that all people deserve, and we need to cultivate this mindset in America. In St. Louis alone over 135,000 children go hungry. The problem is even worse in the summer when kids can no longer get free school lunch. Even though private organizations are helping, there is no centralized effort. The point that Belo Horizonte made is that it is about more than just ending hunger. The solution is to change how people relate to food; food education, better nutrition, and a locally based food economy are create lasting change.
s we planted seeds into squishy layers of manure, I started to realize that this summer we were doing more than just growing a garden; we were growing an organization. The small, 650 square foot backyard, once covered with tall weeds, was now caked with layers of earthy manure, compost, and woodchips. It was teeming with night crawlers and ladybugs and now, seeds. The garden was a literal metaphor for the start-up non-profit, cleverly titled LETS GO (Leading the Energy Transition, Sprouting Green Opportunities) Chicago. LETS GO was concurrently being built from a mere framework handed to us by our mother organization, Grand Aspirations. When we were not in the garden, we were writing project proposals, outlining possible business plans to employ the urban poor, and checking out some fellow urban gardens– doing all we could to get LETS GO going. The ‘we’ was a small group of twelve to fifteen college-age students, mostly
Growing a Non-Profit by Bry n e H adn o tt from Chicago and all interested in the broadly defined mission of our bare bones framework: social justice with an environmental focus. After only two months of research ranging from DIY insulation to soil-less farming, we successfully retrofitted a 100-year-old home and raised a garden in a polluted backyard, thus creating a ‘portfolio’ of environmentally friendly projects. Our mission transformed from vague to defined: LETS GO stood on its own legs as a non-profit aimed at educating and employing youth in a variety of skills. These skills ranged from installing organic gardens in backyards to diverting rain water into rain barrels. From a seed to a seedling to a sapling, LETS GO grew as our garden grew. However, growing a grassroots non-profit had some lessons of its own.
Farmer LETS GO’s Guide to Growing a Down-Home Grassroots Organization: At the first team meetings, we were buzzing with project ideas: building a solar oven out of handmade bricks, raising chickens, installing a roof top garden, building a solar panel, constructing a compost bin, planting an orchard, and the list goes on. Only a few of these ideas came to ‘germination,’ but all were important in characterizing what LETS GO would become at the end of the summer.
The leaders of LETS GO Chicago collected applications for interested interns from all over the city. Applicants were questioned about their majors, past work experience, and any resources they could bring. What resulted was a team, not of environmental studies majors with a history of non-profit work, but a diverse group of students majoring in topics like urban studies, industrial art, and engineering--all incredibly enthusiastic about the non-profit.
at e r
“GIY,” or Google it yourself, became a mantra as we got our projects underway and needed guidance. This guidance came in the form of how-to YouTube videos, university syllabi, and the everhelpful websites, Kickstart and Vimeo. 1.
Molly, one of our team leaders, made an incredible poster showing the house and every retrofit we’d made. Rachel, one of the interns, spearheaded a minimagazine containing how-to featurettes for home retrofits and backyard composting. Both were beautiful records of our ideas, from initiation onward.
Once a week the team met and asked: Where are our projects going? Why are we doing them? How do they fit into our developing mission? The feedback from these discussions helped our projects grow from a seedling to a plant.
4 . re co rd wha t yo u pl an te d
5 . give the seedlings a healthy dose of discussion
6 . collaborate with your fellow farmers 7 . ta
Seneca, founder of an organization called Growing Home, showed us his urban farm and employment facilities, located on a two acre lot in Englewood. He was an incredible touchstone for conflating environmental issues with real careers and helped shape what LETS GO would become.
The beach was within walking distance of our summer lodgings in Rogers Park, so we took beach days whenever we could. Swimming in Lake Michigan, then sitting on the porch at night while drinking mint tea; it was just as important as the weekly meetings.
ONE W ORLD
FALL 2 0 11
DIY home retrofits on a shoestring budget made for some interesting nights spent in alleys, fishing plastic bottles or scrap wood out of a dumpster. From just these materials, we built an indoor watering system and flower boxes for the street side, completing our hydroponic and city beautification projects.
Peter, another group leader, led the discussion on the future of LETS GO. Together, we determined the working mission of LETS GO and started taking steps towards becoming a not-for-profit business.
seed ling s lib the eral nex ly w t ‘g r ith c ow i r e at ng s iv i t y easo n’
In late August, just as our garden reached its peak, our environmentally friendly projects were finished and ready to show to the Rogers Park community. What resulted was a party featuring tons of fresh food, a tour of the newly retrofitted house, and a chance to hear even more feedback on LETS GO Chicago.
w h at now? social justice center
RESOURCES FOR THE INSPIRED The Social Justice Center is a student-run organization that promotes awareness and understanding of social justice and diversity issues by providing education, facilitations, and resources. Interested in helping out? Visit the Social Justice Center’s website at www.sjc.wustl.edu or visit them in person in the lower level of Umrath Hall on the South Forty.
Want to learn more about Partners for Just Trade and their mission? Visit their website at www.partnersforjusttrade.org or call them at (314) 773-7358.
Ashoka: Innovators for the Public
Inspired by Ashoka: Innovators for the Public and the various social entrepreneurs? Visit their website at www.ashoka.org or call them at (703) 527-8300.
Interested in finding out how you can get involved with Labadie Environmental Organization and help protest the proposed coal combustion waste landfill? Visit their website at www.leomo.info for more information.
La ba die Env ironm ent a l Org a niz at ion
Still curious about LETS GO Chicago and how to successfully start a non-profit? To learn more, visit their facebook page at “LETS GO Chicago - Summer of Solutions 2011” to find out how you can get involved.
L E T S G O C h i ca go Constantino Schillebeeckx (Photo CS, L.L.C.) is a freelance photographer based out of St. Louis. His work can be viewed at www.photocs.net.
Get involved with OneWorld
Partners for Just Trade
We are always looking for the inspired, the motivated, the creative, and the willing. Our magazine welcomes designers, artists, editors, and writers to join our staff or contribute to our magazine. no prior experience is necessary. drop us a line at OneWorld.WashU@gmail.com. If you want to check out previous issues, go to www.issuu.com/oneworldwashu.
f ro n t c ove r by Jo h n D r o l l i n ge r b a ck c ove r by Amy M i l l e r