“Dear Lou”: John Risberg

John Risberg Maritz Holdings, Retired Former General Counsel writes an open letter on how to make St. Louis a better place for all.

You know I love you like a brother, but, with the passing years, I have become increasingly worried about you. We go way back. I was born and raised here, raised my family here and built a successful career working for vibrant, locally-based firms.

I have always enjoyed your heritage of cultural, entertainment and sports institutions. As I reflect back on the good times we have shared though, I am always troubled by our lack of progress as a region. As a child, my family moved further and further from the city core seeking what they considered to be a better place to raise a family. They perceived the urban core as a deteriorating, undesirable place to be.

My parents participated in what is now known as white flight and never looked back. Times have changed a lot since then, but as a region we still struggle to recognize that all of us have a shared destiny and interest in supporting the success of the region as a whole.

We cannot and must not continue to turn our backs on the communities we have left behind. There is good cause for distrust and suspicion between those who fled and those who were left behind, but, in order to make progress, all parties concerned must strive to overcome that mistrust. We can do that only by first listening to each other, seeking to become more understanding of our respective challenges and concerns, then aligning our resources and activating in concert to alleviate those challenges.

Difficult though it is and will continue to be, we must move in this direction if we are to reverse the downward trajectory of our region as a whole. We were once a great city and still have the building blocks necessary to return to greatness, but only if we commit ourselves to restoring the places we left behind. Lou, I can see you are weary from the challenges you have faced, but we can do this if we come together, with mutual respect, to focus our efforts on transforming all of our neighborhood communities, once and for all, into places we can be proud to call home.

Sincerely,

John Risberg Maritz Holdings, Retired Former General Counsel

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