Friday, June 25, 2010


(EDIT 2013:  This is really an essay about the "problem" that created the curfew.  The curfew itself is 8 P.M. for anyone under 18 years of age. The curfew was previously instituted in the Mall and the West End, etc.  There are still not programmes or underage clubs of any sort developed or being developed to give under-privileged--and specifically African-American teens-- something to do in this city other than wander in takeover crowds in different parts of the city.)

The Loop has simply inherited a problem from the malls (and the Central West End, and downtown, to a lesser degree).

There is nothing for teenagers to do in America. Especially poor, urban teenagers, many of whom are black. We are so gadget oriented, so tuned into our screens (computer, television, games, iPods) that we have eliminated most of the cultural gathering places that teens need to socialise.

An adult has many options if s/he chooses to go out and interact with his/her peers. But where do underage teenagers go? Even if you have money in St. Louis, there are no more arcades (are there?), not enough skating rinks, skateboard ramps, alcohol-free or under-18 nightclubs; the only thing left are movie theaters and they appear to be going they way of the arcade.

If you live and work in the Loop, as Lupe does, you might notice that the streets will be packed with hundreds of children, and on some nights, the stores and restaurants will be sparsley occupied.

The teens do not spend money here. And there is an unruly element that starts fights (with each other, and ironically, often it is girl fights!), usually in groups, and destroys property. (One night it was cars parked in the back behind the stores. Sometimes a store window is broken.)

These are not local kids. These are not faces that you see during the winter, or even during the weekdays or weeknights. When there was a stronger community here, before Wash. U. bought so much of the rental property on the north side of Delmar, local teens were the dominant force in this neighbourhood. (And as rebellious and annoying as we were, it was our neighbourhood. We took care of it.)

It isn't out of control. It isn't rioting. But it is alot for this neighbourhood to handle and it doesn't seem to take much to get a group of kids running down the sidewalks and streets, and creating serious safety hazards.

Instead of pointing the finger at Joe Edwards, or the Loop, or the police, or the Galleria, or even the kids that cause trouble, the finger needs to be pointed back at ourselves. I.E., those of us that call ourselves adults. If we can't be bothered to interact with teenagers, to make a place for them, to lead by example, then our whole society will have to pay the consequences.

This is great opportunity for youth groups to do outreach work. Also education, and volunteer groups, church and military. Send your recruiters, family planning, event organisers, etc. to the Loop on weekend nights between 8-10 PM and you can reach a lot of young people.

Even better, how about some entrepreneur open up a teen club? Or an arcade, or ANYTHING where teens can go to socialise? How about a weekend afternoon to evening club where there were singing, dance, beauty and rap/poetry contests and open mikes? One with a great internet presence where the winners could be posted each week.

Lupe is certain that would not only solve the "teen problem" but also make gads of money and probably create a bunch of St. Louis celebrities! It wouldn't even have to be in the Loop, but it would be nice if it was.

And young people, we Loopies do understand why you come here to hang out! This is a great place to enjoy yourself!! In fact, it is a great place for EVERYONE to enjoy themselves! Keep the "I saw what you said on Facebook" fights out of the Loop. This is a place of great diversity and freedom and that requires some responsibility on everyone's part.

Also, kids, you are probably not spending any money. It wouldn't hurt to give a some respect to the people that are.

Because if the people that are spending their money here go away, this area won't be fun for you to come hang out in. Capeesh??

See you in the Loop!!!

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