My visit to St. Louis has been jam-packed with great stuff.
First, right as I arrived I met up with Julia Ho (MORE organizer extraordinaire), Freeman Word (mentor and creative force in the St. Louis County Family Court system), and Barbara McKinney (DCTB’s Restorative Justice Coordinator, traveling with me from Madison). We met up and then went over to meet with a St. Louis County Family Court staffer to talk about possibilities for replicating pieces of DCTB’s TimeBank Youth Court model here in St. Louis.
We learned a lot about how the courts currently work, how MO state statutes may apply (or present barriers) to the model, and more. It was very encouraging in that the more we understand potential obstacles the more we can find ways around them. Our friend in the County Court system then recommended other people to meet with in the system, which happens later in this visit.
And I’m very pleased to see that Julia is handing out copies of our paper (presented last July at the Leading Wellbeing Research Festival in Cumbria UK), The Creative Destruction of the US Prison Industrial Complex: We Can Do It!
After that we went to the wonderful ROOTS Coop for a delicious potluck meal.
From their website – The ROOTS Coop is a collective of Black and Brown activists who have purchased a lovely 6-bedroom home on the North Side of St. Louis, and are transforming it into a housing cooperative—common ownership—that will be the springboard for implementing community based programs and initiatives—community collaboration—to empower the surrounding community to manifest Black and Brown self-determination.
The next day was very full, with an 11-4 event at the Thomas Dunn Learning Center. There I presented about Mutual Aid Networks and then a circle conversation about how timebank-supported youth courts could move forward in St. Louis. With a cooking demo and delicious meal provided by HOSCO, yet another incredible cooperative effort here. Followed by a seed swap. Super inspiring!
Sunday started with brunch at Julia’s house, with two other participants in a Community Arts Training project here. We talked about how they might approach a timebank youth court pilot as their project. Cool!
Also cool is Julia’s mom, and the fact that she was here visiting from Lubbock Texas and brought all her energy, wisdom and enthusiasm with her.
I wandered around Cherokee Street for the afternoon, checking out Dead Wax records and the Mud House coffeehouse. And lots of antique shops that line the street. Saw that Foam, where I played last time I was here, is right in the neighborhood.
Then went back to Julia’s to meet with several folks about timebanking tips (and I forgot to take pictures this time!). After this visit Barbara headed back to Madison to run the week’s youth courts.
On Monday I joined Julia and Freeman for a meeting with Catherine of the St. Louis City Court. She was really helpful and receptive about TimeBank Youth Courts and gave us some very practical ideas of where and how we could help get them going. It’s really exciting that this could become real here.
And Monday night I played a show at the lovely Blank Space, with Britt Baker doing a fantastic opening set along with Amber and Emily on percussion. Freeman opened with a super powerful poem by Amiri Buraka. It was a really cool night!
The rest of the St. Louis visit is just a visit, a really nice one at that. Spending time with Renee Marver who helped start and run the first modern US Timebank here in St. Louis, the Member Organized Resource Exchange (also called MORE) at Grace Hill Settlement House, begun in 1981. I ordered their manual back in 2004 when I wanted to start our timebank! Renee is a legend and really fun to hang out with to boot.
Today I’ll join Chinyere, founder of the Cowry Collective, at a salt room for some special relaxation, then tomorrow head to Bloomington IN for the the Up & Coming Food Coop Conference.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the rest of the tour reports, plus exciting news developing on the MAN front…