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Events, Sightings

BookFest St. Louis publishes schedule/seeks volunteers

Nicki's Central West End Guide Books, Dance, Music, Theater Events, Sightings For Children  Sonali Dev Mary Engelbreit Left Bank Books Joshilyn Jackson James Brandon Elizabeth McCracken Daniel Wiseman CWE North Community Improvement District BookFest St. Louis 2019 Aaron Coleman   Organizers of 2019’s BookFest St. Louis—the staffs of CWE North Community Improvement District and Left Bank Books —have just released the exciting line-up of authors for next weekend’s 3rd annual book lovers’ event in the Central West End. Be sure to check the list out. There’s a lot packed into Saturday, September 21.

If you have a couple of hours to spare, there is need for a few more volunteers (sign up info, where to pick up your BookFest tee, etc, here).

Authors include two-time National Book Award nominee Elizabeth McCracken, St. Louis-based fan favorite Mary Engelbreit, LGBTQ+ activist and artist James Brandon, poet and Fulbright Scholar Aaron Coleman, children’s book author Daniel Wiseman, acclaimed Bollywood-style romance writer Sonali Dev, and NY Times best selling author Joshilyn Jackson.

Left Bank Books at Euclid and McPherson is action central, though authors will be appearing in a variety of nearby locations. Those include the McPherson Tent, above, The Vino Gallery, Mahler Ballroom (where Friday night’s Whitmania will be presented by the St. Louis Poetry Center), Schlafly Library, TechArtista Co-Working Environment (4818 Washington), and 510 N. Euclid (between Evangeline’s and Cocina Latina).

Nicki's Central West End Guide Books, Dance, Music, Theater Events, Sightings For Children  Sonali Dev Mary Engelbreit Left Bank Books Joshilyn Jackson James Brandon Elizabeth McCracken Daniel Wiseman CWE North Community Improvement District BookFest St. Louis 2019 Aaron Coleman

Left Bank Books’ Kris Kleindienst above right, is shown introducing two of last year’s authors, Sarah Kendzior and Michael Isikoff. Kleindienst will be in conversation with Mary Engelbreit next Saturday starting at 2 p.m. under the McPherson Tent. Nicki's Central West End Guide Books, Dance, Music, Theater Events, Sightings For Children  Sonali Dev Mary Engelbreit Left Bank Books Joshilyn Jackson James Brandon Elizabeth McCracken Daniel Wiseman CWE North Community Improvement District BookFest St. Louis 2019 Aaron Coleman

The intersection of McPherson and Euclid will be closed east of Euclid to Walton, and at Euclid just north of McPherson to the parking lot. That area is designated as the Festival Zone.Nicki's Central West End Guide Books, Dance, Music, Theater Events, Sightings For Children  Sonali Dev Mary Engelbreit Left Bank Books Joshilyn Jackson James Brandon Elizabeth McCracken Daniel Wiseman CWE North Community Improvement District BookFest St. Louis 2019 Aaron Coleman

There will be live music, and an assortment of vendors and organizations in attendance. A list those participating can be found here.

Don’t miss BookFest St. Louis which starts on Friday evening September 20 with a poetry event at The Mahler Ballroom. Saturday’s events begin at 10:30 a.m. at Schlafly Library with the appearance of children’s book author Daniel Wiseman. The day ends with St. Louis Youth Slam Team Champs scheduled for 7 p.m. under the McPherson Tent.

You’ll love meeting the authors and hearing them interact with each other during panel discussions. In the last couple of years, BookFest St. Louis has gone from being an unknown quantity to recognized among nationally-known authors and their publishers as the place to be.

Join in Clean up/Green up of Hodiamont Tracks

The following post describes an opportunity for community involvement that I thought readers should know about. Next Saturday, August 10, from 9 to noon, volunteers are needed to help “Clean up and Green Up the Hodiamont Tracks.”

The purpose of the event is to stimulate interest in the development of the abandoned Metro (Bi-State) right-of-way as part of Great Rivers Greenway’s network of trails throughout the region.

From the Great Rivers Greenway website:

“The Hodiamont Tracks are an inactive space that have the potential to become a greenway where people could walk, jog, ride a bicycle, push a stroller, use a wheelchair or have a picnic.”

Next Saturday’s community-wide effort is spearheaded by Judith Arnold, a resident of the Vandeventer neighborhood, who initially gathered a group of about 20 women from the 7 neighborhoods that border the Tracks to get the effort going. Since that first meeting in early July, the group has expanded to include an additional 20 or so organizers.

So far, about 160 volunteers have signed up for the project. Arnold is hoping for a total of 200 people to volunteer and register. See more information at end of the post on how to participate.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Services Urban Gardens  Operation Brightside Judith Arnold Hodiamont Tracks Great Rivers Greenway

I am on the organizing committee and have driven the length of the 3.5 mile Tracks, which were originally a trolley line and later a bus route, and taken pictures to give you an idea of what current conditions look like. It’s a mixed bag, ranging from surprisingly green and quiet sections to littered/overgrown dumping grounds.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Services Urban Gardens  Operation Brightside Judith Arnold Hodiamont Tracks Great Rivers Greenway

Committee members who live adjacent to the Tracks lament that illegal dumping of trash in their backyards is a common occurrence.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Services Urban Gardens  Operation Brightside Judith Arnold Hodiamont Tracks Great Rivers Greenway

The City of St. Louis Forestry and Refuse Divisions have been providing preliminary services in advance of the cleanup day, and will be out in force to assist on August 10. The task that day will be to put the finishing touches on the cleanup effort and to demonstrate that there is broad community support for the development of a new greenway along the abandoned route.

“One of the major concerns is ongoing maintenance,” said Judith Arnold. “We’re beginning to tackle this issue with a cleanup day in hopes that residents living near the Tracks will continue to maintain what will become a greenway.”Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Services Urban Gardens  Operation Brightside Judith Arnold Hodiamont Tracks Great Rivers Greenway

The Tracks begin just west of Vandeventer Ave. in the Covenant Blu-Grand neighborhood, and continue westward through the Vandeventer, Lewis Place, Fountain Park, Academy/Sherman, Visitation Park and the West End neighborhoods, terminating at Gwen Giles Park near the city limits. (see map here)Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Services Urban Gardens  Operation Brightside Judith Arnold Hodiamont Tracks Great Rivers Greenway

The photo above shows new buildings under construction on the Ranken Technical College campus, which also borders the Hodiamont Tracks.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Services Urban Gardens  Operation Brightside Judith Arnold Hodiamont Tracks Great Rivers Greenway

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Services Urban Gardens  Operation Brightside Judith Arnold Hodiamont Tracks Great Rivers Greenway

Close to Skinker Blvd., near the western terminus of the Tracks, there’s a charming neighborhood in the City’s 26th Ward that was a total surprise to me. Gardens and manicured lawns occupy common areas adjacent to the tracks, and many of the houses and surrounding yards look like they could be on a country lane.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Services Urban Gardens  Operation Brightside Judith Arnold Hodiamont Tracks Great Rivers Greenway   The Ruth Porter Mall, which starts at DeBaliviere and Delmar, intersects the Hodiamont Tracks several blocks north and offers an example of what the Tracks could become.

Though 95% of residents who participated in an engagement study conducted by Great Rivers Greenway say they want a greenway along the Hodiamont Tracks, the decision to include the 3.5 mile stretch as part of the Greenway system is not a done deal. If the decision is made to proceed, residents see the potential for increased property values, enhanced safety, and beautification.

Arnold is joined in leadership efforts by Tom Schweiss (Great Rivers Greenway), Constance Siu (North Newstead Association), Todd Martin (Mission STL) and others.

Volunteers are scheduled to meet at Lane Tabernacle CME Church, 910 N. Newstead, Saturday, August 10 at 9 a.m. to get their assignments. Gloves, rakes, shovels etc. will be provided by Operation Brightside. All participants are invited to return to the church at noon for a picnic lunch and celebration of a job well done.

To volunteer, or for more information and to register, visit Clean Up & Green Up on Facebook, or an eventbrite page (here).

A little rain couldn’t spoil this RUSH

Nicki's Central West End Guide Books, Dance, Music, Theater Events, Sightings  Rush Left Bank Books Geddy Lee's Big Beautiful Book of Bass Geddy Lee

Days before Canadian rocker Geddy Lee, Rush’s bassist and lead singer signed the first copy of Geddy Lee’s Big Beautiful Book of Bass  at Left Bank Books Monday, the bookstore had posted a “sold out” notice on its event website.

Fans—800 of them—waited for hours, umbrellas in one hand and a copy of the book in the other, for a chance to meet the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Famer.  Tickets, $100, included a copy of the hardcover book and admittance for up to two people to the signing line which opened at 5 p.m..

The book is billed as “the ultimate compendium for the consummate collector, musician, Rush fan, and anyone who loves the bass guitar.” It features “Geddy Lee’s personal collection of vintage electric bass guitars, dating from the 1950s to the 1980s.”

Nicki's Central West End Guide Books, Dance, Music, Theater Events, Sightings  Rush Left Bank Books Geddy Lee's Big Beautiful Book of Bass Geddy Lee

The line, above and below, stretched from Left Bank Books at the corner of Euclid & McPherson south to Pershing Place.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Books, Dance, Music, Theater Events, Sightings  Rush Left Bank Books Geddy Lee's Big Beautiful Book of Bass Geddy Lee

Nicki's Central West End Guide Books, Dance, Music, Theater Events, Sightings  Rush Left Bank Books Geddy Lee's Big Beautiful Book of Bass Geddy Lee

Nicki's Central West End Guide Books, Dance, Music, Theater Events, Sightings  Rush Left Bank Books Geddy Lee's Big Beautiful Book of Bass Geddy Lee

Nicki's Central West End Guide Books, Dance, Music, Theater Events, Sightings  Rush Left Bank Books Geddy Lee's Big Beautiful Book of Bass Geddy Lee

A further indication of how popular Geddy Lee and Rush are in this area is the license plate on a fan’s car that was parked on Euclid, above.

While the vibe was relaxed outside on Monday, take a glimpse of what the day was like for staffers inside Left Bank Books. Visit them on Twitter or Facebook.

Geddy Lee’s Big Beautiful Book of Bass , $90, at Left Bank Books, 399 N. Euclid.