Community Building

Let's Be a Community that Invests in Anti-Racism and Racial Equity Across the Board!

Let's Be a Community that Invests in Anti-Racism and Racial Equity Across the Board!

Did you know that Give STL Day (May 1) is the important fundraising day of the year for We Stories? We know that it can be a noisy day in our region and that some folks have a love/hate relationship with this 24-hour fundraising event. But for us at We Stories we’ve really come to embrace this important day. Really! We mean it.

Let us tell you 5 Reasons why we LOVE/LOVE Give STL Day.

White Parents' Role in Replicating Inequality and Our Responsibility to Get #offthesidelines

White Parents' Role in Replicating Inequality and Our Responsibility to Get #offthesidelines

One week ago nearly 400 of us sat together for an evening of extraordinary connection, challenge, conviction. When most people looked around the room they saw friends, neighbors, their children’s teachers, peers and community leaders who have been instrumental in their own anti-racism journeys.

Together we considered our role in the systems we have and our responsibility in helping to create the systems that we want - and that our region’s children deserve.

Progress Needs People, Pressure, and Perseverance. That means YOU!

Progress Needs People, Pressure, and Perseverance. That means YOU!

The last few months have shown us so many inspiring examples of individual people joining together, in the name of democracy, to fight for the issues that matter to them and to push for racial equity. We’ve seen what the person-to-person, hour-by-hour, small-moment work looks like and how it adds up to big change.

We know that what we say to our kids matters - but what we DO matters more.

We Stories families are raising children who not only prioritize racial equity but who understand the importance and power of civic engagement. Who know deep in their bones that it’s their responsibility to show up and that when 1+1+1+1+1 work together, change is possible.

Because progress needs people, pressure and perseverance. If nothing else this election was marked by incredible people power. Initiatives and races that weren’t destined to succeed but captured the readiness of many individual people willing to work for the future they desire.

80-in-80: Using Relationship Power to Build Community and Strengthen Impact

80-in-80: Using Relationship Power to Build Community and Strengthen Impact

In some ways We Stories is about the very small. The intimate moments like bedtime stories, memories from childhood, private hopes for the future, the starting of new habits, the subtle but significant changes in language and conversation that shape a family.

And in many ways We Stories is about the very big. Interrupting systemic racism, engaging a critical mass, building towards a tipping point, disrupting the status quo, embracing the unconventional, pushing everyday in every way towards transformation.

As an organization it is part of our work to bridge these two spheres: the small and the big. To mobilize these personal shifts and shape them into waves of lasting change.

That bridging takes a tremendous amount of relationship power. Our ability to make impact, to help transform is directly related to our connectedness...to our members’ sense of belonging and being known, and our overall community cohesion.

Not In Our Name...A Rally to Push for Progress in Clayton, MO

Not In Our Name...A Rally to Push for Progress in Clayton, MO

I have three messages I want to share today: the importance of defining problems, the power of apology, and the role of community in supporting action.

As anyone will tell you, you can’t solve a problem until you’ve defined the problem.  Or as Nicole Hudson, one of the most consistent and courageous voices for racial equity in our region has put it - “diagnosis determines treatment.” 

I spent a lot of time preparing for this rally by conducting imagined conversations in my head with quite a number of white folks - folks who worry that a rally is divisive, who bristle at the word racial profiling, who think this topic has been given far too much time and attention already, who use their position or power to wonder aloud if racism is OR isn’t a problem holding our region back, and who with equal fervor declare that they could not, would not, are not racist as if their individual intent alone is all that truly matters.

Segregation in St. Louis hurts whites too

 Segregation in St. Louis hurts whites too

St. Louis is truly a tale of two cities. Neighborhoods of high crime and high poverty eerily exist in a region that also contains communities with family-friendly attractions, beautiful housing, and good schools. This divide is well-known and historically accepted in our region.

One city deals with disinvestment so devastating, it is regularly and nationally recognized as a worst place to live. This is adjacent to another city so enriched and safe that it’s regularly and nationally recognized as a best place to raise a family.

It is this contrast that we tend to focus on most when we talk about segregation. And we should. It’s real. It’s startling. It’s damaging to our region and the people who live here.

This reality alone should be enough to muster the political will to change it. But it's not. And that has everything to do with the shadow of racial bias in the city of abundance. This shadow blinds people from seeing a national and local history of policy advantages that got them inside this bubble. It makes them complicit in policies and ways of life that put this region among the 10 most segregated in the country.

Your Story, My Story, We Stories

Your Story, My Story, We Stories

Change often starts with a nudge, a subtle but intentional shift that can’t always be seen by others. A push against what’s stuck, perhaps an old habit or limiting belief. A small step towards a new connection or way of thinking.

Over time, the nudges and small steps add up, turning into strides. A new pace is established. It feels good…like progress.

Most people have experienced something like this.

But it’s different when this is happens in community… when those nudges are known to others, and those strides are taken together. When there is a common purpose and an eagerness to help each other push against the forces that hold us collectively in place.

This is the magic that we experience.

This is So Much Bigger Than Ourselves

This is So Much Bigger Than Ourselves

All the weeks are busy but last week was busy in a particular and exciting way; our whole community was alive with activity. When you’re building a small organization or community there’s a long time where you as the founder(s) are the energy source for everything. People can help but ultimately you are fueling that process.

Growth is all about establishing and strengthening coordinated renewable energy centers across the system. Over the last year we’ve been working hard to expand our capacity by establishing these energy centers in the form of volunteer leaders, participant leaders, and now paid staff. Last week was one of the first times we were able to turn all of the lights in the house on…and keep them on.

Don’t get me wrong, last week still took everything we have, but there was so much more generative input than just the two of us. And you could feel it. Twice Laura and I looked at each other and said, “wow, this is amazing.” It is remarkable just how many people have truly committed their resources, talents and time to moving this work forward. We want to share this thrilling and humbling experience with you. Hopefully this piece: a week in We Stories will give you a sense of the kind of electricity that we are fortunate to experience.

Grateful for Our Sea of Lights

Grateful for Our Sea of Lights

This year we are most grateful for family. As always we are grateful for our sweet and joyous kids and adoring spouses, for our extended families that give us such support and bring us such warmth, and for friend families who have been an enduring and special part of our lives for years.

This year however we are also grateful for a new family – our We Stories family, now numbering in the thousands. I’ve said it before…it’s hard for me to remember feeling lonely in St. Louis. But at one time I did. Today I am most certainly not.

We are grateful to the We Stories families for their kinship but most of all we are just SO inspired by them.  This morning I went to share yet another news article featuring the good work of a We Stories family (electronic love letters to immigrant families in St. Louis) and I was so struck by just how fortunate we are.

At a time when folks are genuinely grappling with how to be a light in the midst of the dark storm it feels like we are in a sea of candles…representing literally hundreds of people who are taking steps big and small towards a vision of a more equitable St. Louis.

I Want to Tell You a Story

I Want to Tell You a Story

I want to tell you a story. A story about St. Louis. A diverse and vibrant city with a wealth of cultural resources and a proud tradition of prioritizing family life. A city with dozens of distinct areas but hearts large enough to care and advocate across divides. A city that embraces the old and new and that has the courage to dream big and work hard for the benefit of all citizens. This is a story of a St. Louis that I know is possible: big-hearted, courageous, and fiercely generous.

Last year I wouldn’t have believed this story. In fact until I began this work I believed our community’s conventional wisdom, which held that “white families in St. Louis don’t care about race and don’t want things to change.” I believed this because it reflected the reality I thought I knew.

And yet our ability as an organization to quickly amass nearly 300 white families interested in participating in We Stories without any marketing efforts tells us that this is a story that is not entirely true. Prepared to find resistance or apathy, we have instead heard from hundreds of families who are saying, “don’t count me out. I care and I can dream too.”