Learning to Love St Louis

Lew BlinkNov 2 · 7 min read

And it’s people!

An Arch is an odd thing. The symbolism is strong and a deep history lays behind the glorious symbol of my city. The strength and multi layered message it conveys is like a beam of light in the middle of country sweeping outwards coming in directly from that French Statue that once welcomed the American immigrant.

The Arch is speaking to those western bound pioneers trying to find a new kingdom, a Free-dom. It’s crying out with a voice of promise.

Keep going, your almost there, paradise awaits you. You will love it out here.

St Louis was built by immigrants, as they funneled through the city and many stayed…. falling in love with the city. Our metropolitan edges lived in a Golden Age of commerce, with beer barons, clothing, stoves, supplies, warfare, airplanes, space capsules and agriculture. Still to this day, innovation and manufacturing exists in these urban streets.

As a result of this epoch of wealth, the city grew and evolved, adapting to each new wave of progress. New technology was being invented towards the comfort and advances of humankind. Each generation fell in love with being a St Louisian.

I am an immigrant in a way. A nomad who has wandered this country looking for a home and discovered paradise. Now there are those who will dispute these notions and I contend environmental love is subjective. I could never survive the 6 months of cold in our northern states and yet a true pioneer of those newly formed States, loved the land enough to call it home.

What’s great about St Louis you ask?

I personally fell in love with the massive green city trees, huge parks, art offerings, architecture, culture and affordability.

St Louis has a deep historical appreciation on top of a great baseball team.

The Arch is pretty cool, and they got a great museum at the base, in fact we got many amazing museums. During the Guilded age, our residents spent insane amounts of money on improvement and public works. The Tower Grove and Forest Park green spaces are some of the most beautiful in the country.

There is a museum just called “City”, that is an old shoe factory turned massive art project and yes it has slides and lots of things to interact with, a full sensory experience.

Our cultures are wonderful and rich. All our American cultures are highly unique, some descended from the Southern Migration after the civil war and stayed. We still get a steady amount of immigrants coming from all over the world. Many international talents are supplanted here, connected to the local Universities. We have a lot of Bosnians and Serbians living right down the road from one another. Greek, Jewish, Native, Italians, Irish, Dutch, Creole, Bohemian, and all the other labels and country of origin you want to name.

St Louis is the center of a massive melting pot.

Many of our surrounding small towns are rooted in a certain Church, racial group and agricultural basis. Their young adults flocked to St Louis to find their own fortune for decades.

Wait… this is also the story of Chicago too, and Cleveland and most of the country.

We are a country of Immigrants.

What began as United States, grew into a giant and our day of reckoning is almost upon us as we stand at a juncture of epic proportions.

Our social experiment isn’t done, we are still in the midst of a growth potential for our country. We either learn to survive or we lose the whole thing. I’m not gonna point fingers, it’s all a mess. We all know it and we need to fix it.

We need solutions.

Back to the point, St Louis, my new adopted city. I explored it’s edges from Chain of Rocks road, to that odd South Broadway scene. From the upper reaches of North City and the industrial corridor that took the brunt of our success to those working class neighborhoods slowly becoming one long vast urban sprawl.

I learned about it’s history and touched the aging statues of our personal heros. It’s just like any other city, only it’s the one I love. I’ve dedicated my art to telling it’s story, time and time again. My project Dumpster Archeology is set in St Louis and the unknown true life characters that once walked these streets.

I love to write about our Art, our Healers, our strange little nuances. I write about the criminals that are getting away with death on a large scale as polluters of our waterways. I ally myself to the movement called Black Lives Matter and the difficult history African Americans have endured within these city borders. I marvel at the Cahokian mystery and rumble at the willful destroying of sacred places.

The People are what make our city, as it does your own….all the people. Everyone of these Immigrants, that have just as much right to the riches of our culture as any ONE. We remake our city with each vote and public communal offering. We keep our zoos and museums free and try to make sure infastrucure keeps up with demand. We play a delicate balance with our lives and money.

St Louis has its sins, its crimes, its racism and its messy angles, yet underneath all of it is Heart. A lot of love is in this city, we just need to figure out how to adapt and understand each other.

People stand for hours to eat at Pappy’s because it’s an institution. Buy their Christmas tree at Ted Drews because… well it’s Ted Drew. They have their favorite spots in from their suburban lives, those outlanders at the edges of our city. Despite the imaginary lines, our “County” metropolitan area is as much St Louis as those who bike through South City to save the planet, one commute at a time.

When you love something it’s easy to remember the common bond we all share.

When one of our own feels trapped because the economic trappings of a food desert in their neighborhood is a solid reality, than I suppose we must figure out how fix it.

When a certain neighborhood has a 85% chance you will be pulled over by police simply because of the color of your skin, than we must collectively address it.

When the pollution that is decades old has caused massive cancer rates in it’s tax paying citizens, then action is required.

What makes this city a true pearl is it’s historical streets, lifestyle options, plush green interior, art institutions, musical hertiage, diverse cultural offerings and one amazing population. That old Midwest charm is still a vital part of who are and that honest hardworking ethic that we were once so famous for.

We got our huge Pride festivals and thriving gay community. Our “pagan” picnic and birthplace of the term. Artists of all types that rival those on either coast, only our artists have to work really really hard to do it full time. We also have thriving religious communities that are learning to adapt to new cultural paradigms of a melting pot that is America.

I’m not going anywhere St Louis and I know we can do better as a city and an example. I have a good friend who loves to say that St Louis is the new Love Capital of the World. She gathered a large group beneath our Famous Arch on October 6th and proclaimed that it was true. At this point no one else has claimed the title, so I say let it stand.

Let’s love our city and each other and do better.