Amazing Architecture, Building and Structure Designs that won the A’ Design Award

We look at a collection of stunning Architecture, Building and Structure designs that have previously won the prestigious A’ Design Award.

St. Louis Wants More Artists to Drive Civic Engagement

First-time filmmaker Alana Flowers plans to tell the story of Kinloch, once a thriving black community in the St. Louis metro that has since been hollowed out. (Photo by Oscar Perry Abello)

Established in 1948, Kinloch was Missouri’s first incorporated all-black city. In its heyday, Kinloch had a population of more than 10,000. Today, the population of Kinloch is less than 200. Much of the land where houses, mom and pop shops and other establishments once stood in this once-vibrant enclave is cleared of structures and overgrown with brush, according to Alana Flowers, a St. Louis native presently shooting a documentary called “The Kinloch Doc” to chronicle the history and decimation of Kinloch.

Although Flowers has never lived in Kinloch, Her grandparents lived there until they were bought out. The 28-year-old feels a deep connection to the now largely-abandoned city.

“There are a lot of people my age that don’t know anything about the city or how they may have relatives that came from that city, the importance of it, the historic value of it — so that’s the educational component of it,” says Flowers. “The advocacy component is nationwide. I want people to acknowledge the Kinlochs in their area, to prevent what happened in Kinloch from happening in their communities.”

Flowers received a $3,000 grant from the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission to help fund the project. Flowers was one of approximately 20 recipients of grants ranging from a few hundred dollars up to about $5,000 each, awarded by the commission during one of two grant cycles executed each year. The Kinloch Doc and the $3,000 grant illustrate a shift in what the commission is asking artists to do — and whom it is asking to participate in the arts.

In a comprehensive report called “Arts &: A Creative Vision for St. Louis,” released on Sept. 13, 2018, the Regional Arts Commission lays out a plan that promises to broaden participation in the arts, while also positioning arts and artists as more active forces in civic engagement, particularly around issues of racial equity.

“Today, a chorus of voices awakened by the events of Ferguson seeks to be heard, demanding our community address the inequities that led to the civil unrest and find lasting solutions,” the report’s introduction begins. “More than ever, we are a divided community in need of new bridges and connections to recognize our full potential. Every sector of our community needs to do more and respond differently than it did several years ago.”

The commission, which gets its funding from a slice of the city’s occupancy tax on hotel and motel guests, wants to tap into the convening power of the arts to help build those bridges and connections.

“We traditionally think of the arts as a place where you go and buy a ticket and sit down in front of somebody else doing it — how do we get people to want to pick up that guitar and play with someone else?” says Felicia Shaw, executive director of the Regional Arts Commission. “The reason why tapping into your own creativity is really important to us is … that’s where civic engagement happens. That’s where people get to know their neighbors and they get to activate their neighborhoods. They’re coming out of their neighborhoods and singing together, dancing together, they’re playing musical instruments together and that’s where the coalitions get formed.”

According to Shaw, the “Arts &” report grew out of a community engagement process called EVOKE St. Louis, which the Commission launched in June 2017.

“We wanted to engage in a conversation with the broadest public about the role of the arts in people’s lives and asking one other very important question — how can the arts play a stronger role in making St. Louis a better place to live?” says Shaw. “We engaged over 3,000 St. Louis (area) residents in the city and county, as far east as East St. Louis and as far west as St. Charles, and we used individual artists to help people evoke stories of their lives and talk about ways that they think the arts could be more impactful.”

For Flowers, who earned a bachelors degree in communications from the University of Missouri at Columbia and a master’s degree in social work from Washington University in St. Louis, her family’s story is what ultimately inspired her to become a filmmaker.

“Everybody’s not a politician. Everybody’s not an activist. Everybody’s not an educator. So I think the Regional Arts Commission is creating another avenue in supporting people who kind of think outside the box,” says Flowers. “It was very affirming for me for them to see potential in my work. It was affirming to me to know, OK, I am doing the right thing. I am supposed to be doing this.”

When researching the city of Kinloch, the most Flowers knew about it was her family was from there. “I never lived there so I never knew much about it other than what was told to me,” she says. “So me being me … maybe I could find a film on it. And my friend who was getting her PhD from the University of Missouri St. Louis was like, ‘Alana, why don’t you just make one? (a film)’ And I said okay, and that’s literally how that happened.”

Flowers completed a nine-month media production training program beginning in August 2017 conducted by Continuity to learn the technical fundamentals of filmmaking. The training helped her make connections, including one of her instructors, Quinsonta Boyd, who is now working as the videographer for her documentary. They’ve produced a four-minute short film so far, which played at the St. Louis Filmmaker Showcase, and Flowers has since received an invitation to show the film at the St. Louis International Film Festival in November. “I don’t know [yet] if I want it to be episodic or if I want to do a full feature,” Flowers says.

Flowers hopes to be finished with filming by February 2019, and is still seeking additional funding for filming and post production.

This article is part of “For Whom, By Whom,” a series of articles about how creative placemaking can expand opportunities for low-income people living in disinvested communities. This series is generously underwritten by the Kresge Foundation.


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The Lingering Effects of Youth Experiencing Disconnection

The prevalence of disconnected youth varies widely by state. (Credit: Social Science Research Council)

For young people, spending any significant length of time out of school and unemployed between the ages of 16 and 24 can have long-lasting impacts on employment prospects, income, homeownership, and health. The effects of that type of “disconnection” are worse the longer the disconnection endures. And the disadvantages compound over time.

That’s according to a new report from Measure of America, a program of the Social Science Research Council, called “Two Futures: The Economic Case for Keeping Youth on Track.” The report is the first to follow a cohort of what the group terms “disconnected youth” or “opportunity youth” over the course of about fifteen years. Researchers monitored the “life trajectories” of disconnected youth at stages five, ten, and fifteen years after their experience of disconnection.

The difference in outcomes between connected and disconnected youth is slighter in their teens and early twenties, but grows much greater as they approach middle age, the report concludes. On average, after about 14 years, youth who stay “connected” earn about $31,000 more than their disconnected peers. They are also 45 percent likelier to own a home, 42 percent likelier to be employed, and 52 percent likelier to report good or excellent health.

“The reason why we look at youth disconnection is that it can be a real bellwether for the health of the community, and it really correlates with well-being for the overall community,” says Rebecca Gluskin, deputy director and chief statistician at Measure of America and a co-author of the report, which was funded by the Schultz Family Foundation.

There are around 4.6 million disconnected youth in America, according to the report, meaning nearly 12 percent of people between the ages of 16 and 24 are neither working nor in school. The rate of disconnection varies widely by geography and race; more than a quarter of Native American youth are disconnected while less than 7 percent of Asian American youth are disconnected, for example.

As the report notes, disconnected young people are more likely to be poor, have dropped out of high school, or have parents with low levels of educational attainment. They’re also likelier to have a disability, be mothers, and be institutionalized. Neighborhoods with high rates of youth disconnection are also likelier to have been affected by racial segregation and high unemployment while having higher populations of older generations who also experienced disconnection during their own youth, the report says.

The report also measures the cost of youth disconnection to society as a whole. If all disconnected youth were “reconnected” to jobs or education, the federal government would be able to collect an additional $55 billion in tax revenue, or around $11,900 per individual. At the local level, investing in disconnected youth could mean an extra $150 million in annual revenue for a city like Atlanta or an additional $610 million for a city like L.A., the report says.

“It’s not only an important social issue but, what this report is saying is, we’re paying for the investments we’re not making today,” Gluskin says.

Karen Pittman, the co-founder, president and CEO of The Forum for Youth Investment, says the Measure of America report provides hard evidence to support investments in programs that help young people at all age ranges — not just the earliest interventions.

“The fact that young people who are disconnected from schools or the labor market don’t do as well as young who stay connected in that 1-24 range — that’s not news. We know that,” Pittman says. “But the idea that the extent of the gap between the connected and the disconnected gets greater 15 years out — that is news. They don’t catch up. It’s a lingering effect.”

To address the rate of youth disconnection and help more young people find employment education, the report recommends that employers should listen and responded to the views of young people, and create training programs and policies that are geared toward at-risk, first-time workers. It also recommends that businesses can set data-driven goals, and help support workforce development efforts in cooperation with schools, philanthropies, financial and health systems, and the criminal justice system.

Pittman says that people between the ages of 16 and 24 need fairly concrete things in order to stay connected to job and education opportunities: child care, health insurance, housing, predictable work schedules. So it makes sense to recommend listening to what young people say their needs are, Pittman says.

“The voices of young people themselves has really been what’s powered this movement,” she says.

Measure of America hopes the report will help build a case for investment in disconnected youth.

“The point of this report is to show that this group of young people are really a resource that can be tapped for both the economy and … for communities, providing strength and resilience,” Gluskin says. “And they shouldn’t be seen as a cost, because it’s really a missed opportunity if we don’t reengage them.”


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Architect Mahmood Fallahian

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