The Urban League of St. Louis’ Clean Up Build Up North St. Louis Groundbreaking Initiative

There was a very interesting event that took place on Saturday Nov. 4, 2023, in the College Hill neighborhood in north St. Louis.

The event, called “Clean Up Build Up,” which was sponsored by the Urban League of Metropolitan Saint Louis Inc. Division of Public Safety and the Regional Business Council (RBC). This is a groundbreaking initiative that serves the region’s most challenged neighborhoods. In addition, there are other construction companies, contractors and government entities involved with this revitalization effort. 

Moreover, through Clean Up Build Up construction workers, neighborhood stakeholders, community residents and volunteers from throughout the region come together in a spirit filled effort to spark the revitalization of some of the distressed and neglected areas in St. Louis. Because, this clean up build up effort will focus on demolishing vacant properties that are beyond repair, clearing trees and overgrown shrubs from vacant lots and clearing and cleaning up alleys.

And, abandoned and targeted properties are often linked to neighborhood crime and violence which is why residents will be offered an opportunity to participate in efforts to de-escalate conflicts with a trajectory towards gun violence.

Furthermore, The St. Louis Development Corporation (SLDC) and the City of St. Louis Mayor’s office have created a plan to use American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to reverse decades of economic decline in North St. Louis. Because, The Economic Justice Action Plan lays out specific steps the city must take to seek to create long-lasting economic growth for the residents and businesses in St. Louis. The plan outlines five primary goals: 1- Strengthen neighborhoods, 2- Close the wealth gap, 3- Improve healthy & education outcomes, 4- Expand the tax base, 5- Grow the City’s population. Laura Ginn, SLDC Vacancy Strategist, has ample experience working across departments and within communities to align resources and catalyze equitable reinvestment in high-vacancy neighborhoods.

Special guest, James Clark (pictured below holding a pamphlet), St. Louis Urban League Vice President of Public Safety & ​Community Response, gave the presentation which outlined what the day would entail. Skilled volunteers installed BIONIC motion lights which can be used as a safety tactic to scare away intruders and deter criminal activity from the area. Volunteers also walked door to door to give away gun locks and NARCAN. 

As noted, vacant properties with overgrown shrubbery, fallen trees and all types of garbage from illegal dumping were trimmed, picked up and thrown away in construction dumpsters. While, there are several dead trees in this area that can fall over onto a house or onto a person causing severe damage, injury or even death. So, many of the dead trees that are being cut down are to prevent harming people and damaging property.

The purpose of The Division of Public Safety and Community Response is to reduce crime and violence by connecting neighborhood residents with necessary services and viable resources. The vision of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis is to make St. Louis neighborhoods more livable.

In conclusion, this is accomplished by neighborhood residents coming together to participate in community clean ups and block level activities that restore the social fiber of the targeted neighborhoods.

Images by Keith Watkins


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