Public Health & The City of St. Louis: What Works, What Doesn’t – BTTV Episode 028

In this episode, Dave is joined by Pam Walker, Health Director for the City of St. Louis. Walker became the city’s health director in 2007, and brings more than three decades of experience in public health and natural resource management to the role.

Also on the show tonight, we take a look at two recent Better Together events, where members of the public-health community gathered to ask questions and share ideas. Plus, Joe Wilson visits the municipality of Pagedale.

Better Together Young Professional Group Launches

Jeff Smith talks with the BTYPs.

By Joe Wilson

This week Better Together hosted the first meeting of BTYP, Better Together Young Professionals. Twenty men and women from around the area got together to talk with each other about their vision for the St. Louis region, about the problems they see in their particular communities, and about the difficulty they have in trying to explain to friends from out of town why St. Louis is the way it is.

The men and women in attendance were a mix of newly minted lawyers, non-profit employees, and other professional fields. They might not have come together except for their interest in how the region operates and how things might be made better. Many had already heard a speaker from Better Together give a presentation at a neighborhood association or professional organization meeting.

Jeff Smith was the guest speaker. Yes, that Jeff Smith. The Jeff Smith that went for Dick Gephardt’s congressional seat against Russ Carnahan. The Smith who had a documentary made about his campaign ( ) Smith also went to prison for things that happened during his campaign. He spoke about the political strength and power that the St. Louis region has but doesn’t flex in the Missouri legislature because of the regional belief in the lines that divide the community. He expressed the belief that St. Louis would be much stronger, and more successful, if we worked with each other instead of against each other.

His message wasn’t something new for the people in the room. The new members of Better Together Young Professionals were there because they already knew, already believed, that the St. Louis region is capable of something much more and that too much time has been spent trying to win petty regional fights. Now these young men and women – these early and mid-career professionals and future leaders in the region – have a call-to-action to which they can respond.

If you are interested in joining the Better Together Young Professionals organization, please email [email protected] .

Meet Dr. Ross – BTTV Episode 27

Over the next several weeks, we will be looking at how our City and County Health Departments deliver services, and how the efficiency and coordination of these departments impact the services our citizens receive. Our Public Health Committee includes many respected experts in a variety of fields, and our guest on this episode is committee chair Dr. Will Ross. Dr. Ross is Associate Dean for Diversity and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Washington University.

Also on the show, we take a look at the week’s kickoff event for the Public Health Study. St. Louis County Health Director Dr. Delores Gunn and St. Louis City Health Director Pamela Walker shared remarks.

Couch to 5k, Better Together Style

By Joe Wilson

I was a college athlete, though I don’t look the part now. I walked on to the University of Missouri – Columbia swim team and was team captain by my senior year. I wasn’t the fastest in the water, or the strongest on land, but I was pretty fit.

Then I graduated in 2008. Then I worked on a campaign in 2010. Then I went to law school, which I just finished this spring. The food I eat is more fried than it is fresh. Sitting at a desk for 40 hours a week has replaced the 20+ hours per week in the pool and weight room I used to have. This is unsustainable.

Better Together is conducting its third community-based study now, and it is on Public Health. Mayor Slay apparently wants city residents to lose weight too ( here ). My dog always seems to want longer walks, but I think she probably doesn’t have my health in mind. There are plenty of things in my life saying “time to make a change.” Looks like the Better Together 5k will be my first goal to shoot for.

In light of the 5k, the Public Health study, and our upcoming Parks, Recreation, and Infrastructure study, each weekend I will be visiting one of the major parks in St. Louis County to do some running, take some pictures, and do what I can to show off the gorgeous parks our region has. I will put together a little blog post about the park and about the health and well being of the St. Louis region. I encourage you to sign up for the run. Get outdoors and run, ride your bike, play some pick-up soccer or just take a walk.

Look for a curly haired, bearded guy at the 5k. Don’t laugh if I am wheezing too much. We all have to start somewhere.

STL and the Massive Overspend – BTTV – Episode 26

Recently, our Better Together research team made a discovery that is nothing short of stunning. After comparing the budgets of Louisville, Indianapolis, and St. Louis, we found clear evidence that our region overspends — massively — on municipal services. A conservative estimate of the overspend is 750 million dollars every year.

In this original Better Together short documentary, we take a look at why this excessive spending might be happening, and how other regions keep costs lower for their citizens.

Also on the show, we visit PrideFest 2014, where Better Together was proud to be a sponsor.



An Opposing Viewpoint – BTTV Episode 025

For our twenty-fifth episode, we are taking a different approach. We visit with Monica Huddleston, the mayor of Greendale. Mayor Huddleston disagrees with some of Better Together’s findings. While we may not be on the same page by the end, one of the most important elements of the Better Together project is listening to all voices and talking with all stakeholders. Also on the show, Joe Wilson visits the mayor’s hometown of Greendale and explores what makes the municipality unique.

Better Together – Ready to Show Our Pride!

By Matt Hoffman

The annual St. Louis PrideFest celebration and parade will be held Saturday, June 28, and Sunday, June 29, at Soldiers’ Memorial in downtown St. Louis. The first PrideFest was held in St. Louis in 1981, and has grown in size and influence ever since. In 2011, for example, an estimated 85,000 people attended PrideFest throughout the weekend. In 2012, over 100,000 people attended, making St. Louis PrideFest one of the most highly-attended LGBT events in the Midwest.

This year, Better Together is proud to serve as a sponsor for the festival. We will be walking in the parade, which takes place Sunday at 11 a.m. and travels down Market Street, and hosting a booth all weekend. PrideFest runs from noon to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, and 11:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Sunday – come check out a great event, and swing by the Better Together booth to learn more about our work while you’re at it.

To learn more about PrideFest and the organization behind it, Pride St. Louis, visit http://www.pridestl.org .

Look Out, Silicon Valley

By Uzoma Onwumere

As someone who is a dedicated enthusiast when it comes to technology, recent articles discussing why St. Louis is becoming a hotbed for tech startup companies definitely piqued my interest. Reading these articles uncovered myriad reasons why St. Louis could give Silicon Valley a run for its money. For starters, the cost of living in St. Louis compared to places like San Francisco is incredibly low, allowing for tech startups to focus resources and funds into development of their company instead of small and cramped living arrangements.

What’s also appealing to new tech startups is that St. Louis offers excellent mentoring assistance from entrepreneurs who have already established themselves. Entities such as T-REX , which houses more than 80 start-ups and a wide community of developers, designers, mentors, and educators in its 80,000 square foot facility, allows aspiring entrepreneurs to have a space where they can work alongside new startups, leading to a place for not only networking but also creativity and helpful assistance.

St. Louis has steadily become a city where tech startups have the opportunity to thrive, and that has not gone unnoticed. Startup Voodoo is a Midwest tech conference where startups and entrepreneurs from Chicago, Kansas City, St. Louis, and other heartland cities can come together and learn more about tech startups and what it takes to become successful.

Guest speakers such as David Karandish of Answers Corporation and Jim McKelvey of Square are but a few of the startup giants that will be at the event to coach and mingle with startups in the region.

This unprecedented event shows just how strong the St. Louis region is becoming when it comes to technology innovation and entrepreneurship. The event is scheduled for September 25, 2014, and will be taking place in Ballpark Village. If you are a fan of technology in the St. Louis region, or just want to know more about entrepreneurship in general, then I highly suggest purchasing a ticket for the event