We began 2020 armed and ready with everything we needed to create lasting, community change in North St. Louis County. Our first event at Barack Obama Elementary School was a success. We partnered with Maryville University and EyeSeeMe to provide over $4,000 worth of books to every student, in an effort to create readers and leaders!
In March, we collaborated with local growers and food justice leaders to host the Good Food Movement Community Leaders Retreat at in Potosi, Missouri at the beautiful YMCA Trout Lodge. It was refreshing, educational, uplifting, and fun! Our funding partners were Missouri Foundation for Health, Deaconess Foundation, and Washington University. We continue to be grateful for their support.
Our next event would have been an Education Town Hall with State Rep Ian Mackey, ACLU, Washington University, and others. It was to be held at Deaconess Foundation and would have detailed pending legislation on out-of-school suspensions, and restraint and seclusion. We were also meeting with students in schools to help them avoid suspensions and punishment. Our Education Advocacy Coalition had formed committees on discipline, school funding, and social-emotional learning. We were going to attack education disparities with power.
When Covid-19 hit, we were forced to cancel planned programming at Jamaa Birth Village and St. Vincent Home for Children, and with our community garden, market, and urban farm. We were deservedly bummed; nevertheless, we determined that the mission was more important than our plans. So, we took our resources and partnered with Solidarity Economy Stl to join Stl Mutual Aid. We started with diapers, hygiene kits for the homeless (because our dinner was cancelled), and cleaning supplies. Pretty soon, we added groceries, gift cards, and resources. We kept some supplies at my house and some at the office. We also had diapers left over at our storage unit.
Initially, we planned to continue the work of mutual aid through the beginning of June as that was what the projections of Covid-19 were informing us. However, it became apparent that our community would need support past that deadline and through the end of the year, at least. So, we will soon reorganize and consolidate all of our supplies and materials into a new, larger location being made available at our office site in Wellston, because we want to ensure this work is sustainable. We will soon start distributing school supplies to families in North County.
We are also hiring Jordan McCain, our current Policy Intern and UMSL Student, to become our Covid-19 Response Assistant.
Throughout all of these changes, we are still working to build up the North County Agricultural Education Center in Pine Lawn and the Healthy Community Market in Riverview, hopefully to open in 2021. Jordan is also working on policing and policy work. Drew continues to gather resources for community members. Jessica Johnson is beginning the planning for our 2020 Kwanzaa Production.
We are very excited about these changes and additions and we invite you all to join us as we continue to meet immediate needs, while working on the long-term changes needed in North St. Louis County. A Red Circle’s mission statement is, “The holistic betterment of our community; reversing the effects of racism one person and cause at a time.”