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“Talk about it” drug prevention campaign developed in CWE

Nicki's Central West End Guide For Children Services Web/Tech  Talk About it campaign Scott Leisler Harold Weissman Dovetail Marketing Central West End

It seems universal that kids ask the most unexpected questions in awkward situations, and when you’re least prepared. Parents have to think quickly to respond in an age-appropriate way.  One of those teaching moments occurred when CWEnder Scott Leisler, above, and his wife Jackie were out with their daughter Clementine, then 5, who discovered drug paraphernalia lying on the street. This experience, according to Leisler, was a wake-up call that substance abuse can affect anyone in one way or another.

Leisler, president and chief creative officer of Dovetail Marketing Agency on Maryland Plaza, remembers thinking at the time that drug abuse is a community problem and that we need to help solve it. After relating the experience to his staff, he found the entire team eager to help develop a creative solution.

At first they considered installing guerrilla-style messages in drug hot spots around town advertising that help was available. But when Leisler spoke to Howard Weissman, who was executive director of National Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NCADA) at the time, Weissman suggested they collaborate and create a campaign that would emphasize prevention targeted at young families. The NCADA had found through studies that just talking to your kids about addiction when they are young and impressionable can cut future risk in 1/2.

After Dovetail’s staff spent months of work developing a website and marketing materials, the Talk about it campaign – including free age-specific talking kits giving parents the resources to talk to their families about drug and alcohol abuse—was rolled out to a regional audience during Super Bowl 2018 (see below). Financial support for Talk about it came from NCADA’s donors and partners (see list at end of post).

For parents, just starting the conversation can be difficult, but the talking kits which target pre-K to 2nd grade, 3rd to 5th grades, 6th to 8th grades, and 9th to 12th grades, help open the door. There is also a kit to help start the conversation if you suspect drug abuse. From the Talk about it website: “It  can be difficult to acknowledge that it’s happening, and it can be even harder to break the silence. But these conversations can be lifesaving.”

Nicki's Central West End Guide For Children Services Web/Tech  Talk About it campaign Scott Leisler Harold Weissman Dovetail Marketing Central West End

Locally, you may spot the Talk about it campaign on billboards, bus kiosks and on 20 oversized pill bottles that can be found at various locations including the Gateway Arch grounds, Central Library, Forest Park Visitors’ Center, Soulard, and in the CWE on the Straub’s parking lot and at Coffee Cartel.

What started as a teaching moment for one Central West End family has now reached a much broader audience, and before long the plan to take the Talk about it campaign across the state and around the country will help even more. A big thank you to everyone involved in developing and supporting this campaign to help stop an epidemic that has spiraled out of control and has touched so many.

Talk about it sponsors include: National Council of Alcohol and Drug Addiction, Missouri Foundation for Health, DEA 360 Strategy, DBH (Division of Behavioral Health), Missouri Department of Economic Development, and the CWE’s Dovetail Marketing Agency.

MetroLink rolls into Cortex Innovation Community

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Services  Metro John Nations Cortex Station Central West End Bi-State Development Agency

I was on the wrong side of the tracks when the first Metro train broke through a ceremonial ribbon at the brand-new MetroLink station at Cortex Innovation Community last Tuesday, July 31.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Services  Metro John Nations Cortex Station Central West End Bi-State Development Agency

The first train was carrying Bi-State, Metro Transit and Cortex officials as well as national, state and local government leaders. The opening of the Cortex Station also marked the 25th anniversary of the St. Louis region’s light rail system, as well as the completion of the first section of the Chouteau Greenway, a quarter-mile paved path linking Boyle and Sarah Avenues.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Services  Metro John Nations Cortex Station Central West End Bi-State Development Agency

By the time I waded through the crowd, Fredbird was sitting in the driver’s seat.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Services  Metro John Nations Cortex Station Central West End Bi-State Development Agency

John Nations, above, outgoing CEO of Bi-State Development Agency which oversees Metro public transit system, St. Louis Downtown Airport, St. Louis Regional Freightway, Gateway Arch riverfront operations and Bi-State Development Research Institute, delivered remarks on the plaza in front of @4240, located at Duncan and Boyle.

Nations mentioned that the Cortex Station and Chouteau Greenway project were funded through a public-private partnership that included the Federal Transit Administration, Cortex, Washington University, BJC HealthCare, Great Rivers Greenway, the City of St. Louis, Citizens for Modern Transit, Metro Transit and Bi-State Development. There were many other speakers who followed Nations’ remarks. You can read more about the celebration here.

It was a surprise to learn that MetroLink provides other community services in addition to transportation. Mobile Health Vans visit Metro Transit Centers on a weekly basis, and from 9 to 5 on weekdays The Link Market brings fresh produce to two MetroLink locations, North Hanley and Wellston.  In addition, Metro just launched a text messaging service to connect to Metro Customer Service (314) 207-9786.

It would appear that the new station will be a win-win for the Central West End, as it will provide a convenient transportation option to the thousands of people who work at Cortex, and also relieve congestion at the busy BJC station just west of Cortex.

On a side note, a city official who had a role in planning the new station told me that he heard objections from some riders complaining that the Cortex stop would add 60 seconds to their commute. 60 seconds?

McPherson’s Jack Grone on “The TIF Trade”

The latest bit of reporting from CWEnder Jack Grone on his McPherson, Independent Journalism for St. Louis and Beyond site will be of interest to city residents, especially CWEnders. It is not a quick read, but if you’ve wondered how Tax Increment Financing works, this well-researched article will be helpful.

The introduction:

The Argyle TIF (Argyle Parking Garage at Lindell and Euclid) in St. Louis is helping divert $1 million of tax money each year to service debt in the city’s Parking Division. Some people think the money should be going to schools instead.

The TIF Trade: The Treasurer, the Argyle Garage and a Huge Pile of Cash

“But where will people park?”

It’s a question for the ages in car-dependent towns like St. Louis, and it was one of the issues city leaders grappled with in the 1990s as they considered the prospects of the Central West End.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Opinion Services Web/Tech  Tishaura Jones McPherson Jack Grone Independent Journalism for St. Louis & Beyond Chase Park Plaza Argyle Garage

There, private developers were pouring millions into an effort to remake the shuttered Chase Park Plaza hotel into a major destination for business meetings, receptions, galas, dining and movies. The hope was that a revitalized Chase would in turn spur the redevelopment of storefronts and residences on nearby Maryland Plaza, at the time a largely forlorn stretch still searching for new purpose 20 years after Saks Fifth Avenue and other retailers had left for the suburbs.

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

Since the article was published last Tuesday, Grone has summarized his reporting into 6 easy-to-follow tweets. They are reprinted below, or you can follow Grone on Twitter here.

1/ In a nutshell, the Argyle TIF is diverting a million bucks a year to subsidize the parking division’s debt. didn’t create this deal, but city’s parking ops still benefit from it. and say the TIF’s $$ should go to city schools.

5/ The Argyle TIF has its own cash pile: $6.2 million as of last June, says city report. That cash is just sitting there while city can’t even fix its garbage trucks. Yowza. Wondering what and think, since each wants to be aldermanic prez.

6/ People in who work for and want to find a solution to disburse the TIF’s cash ahead of its expiry in 2021. It’ll be interesting to watch Board of Aldermen this fall. And office, too.

Thanks to Jack Grone for his in-depth, eye-opening reporting on this important topic. Let’s hope our elected officials will take the necessary steps to redirect these substantial and sorely needed funds for the benefit of all citizens.