The State of Education

The COVID-19 pandemic flipped the education system on its head. Teachers had to find new ways to engage with students virtually. Students had to learn how to navigate chrome books, laptops, and other devices in order to complete their studies. Everything changed and a lot was uncovered such as the lack of resources in minority school districts. In this episode we hear from a young school board member working to change the educational landscape in her hometown, a professor with years of experience with a new outlook on education, and community members share their thoughts on the state of education.

Movement & Mental Health

This time around we're going to do things a little differently. We partnered with Dr. Kira Banks and the Raising Equity podcast on this episode to discuss movement and mental health. Dr. Banks and I wanted to understand more deeply how people are coping with the feeling of loss, the loss of normalcy, loved ones, jobs, and more. In this episode we hear from a yoga instructor and math teacher about how he combined his passion for yoga with education and then Dr. Banks and I sit down with a local Black therapist who talks about how he shaped the mission of his private practice.

Embracing Your Crown

I wanted to hear from Black women in our region about what the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) act means to them and discuss their own personal journey with hair. In this episode we visit Frizz Fest 2021, hear from a beauty salon owner about the importance of individuality, and an African American history professor breaks down the history of Black hair.

Legacy of Love

This is the second of a two-part tribute to the late Dr. Jonathan Cedric Smith, whose commitment to cultural memory we shared in our most recent episode. In this episode, we're handing over the mic to family, friends, and community members who were impacted by Jonathan's passion for social justice and will be carrying forth the legacy of love that he left them.

Speak Their Names

This episode is the first of a two-part tribute to a man whose passion for social justice and cultural memory impacted hundreds of people in the St. Louis region: Dr. Jonathan Cedric Smith, who died this year on Juneteenth. Among many community roles, he served on the board of St. Louis Public Radio. Last year, Lauren and Jia Lian had the opportunity to interview Dr. Smith about his perspective as Co-Chair of the Slavery, History, Memory, and Reconciliation Project. To introduce you to this project and Dr. Smith's role in it, we speak with Marissanne Lewis-Thompson, afternoon newscaster and general assignment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio. Then, we travel back in time to share Jonathan's own words about what the Slavery, History, Memory, and Reconciliation Project meant to him. Finally, historian Dr. Kelly Schmidt will explain how Jonathan's care for descendant communities shaped the project and his youngest brother, Jacques, will share how Jonathan's passion for cultural memory, ancestry, and history began.

We Live Here: Wrap Up

Jia and Lauren sit down in the studio for the first time since March 2020 to discuss reporting during the pandemic and how life has been for the past year. As they discuss personal trials and tribulations the We Live Here team is also excited about the new listener survey. Whether you are a long time listener, contributor, or community member we want your input. What do you enjoy, what can we do better, and what does We Live Here mean to you? Check out our new listener survey by visiting our website at welivehere.show/survey or check us out on social @weliveherestl on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Indigenous Protectors of the Land

Throughout this season, we've shared stories of those living in unhealthy environments, how those environments came to be, and what we can do to create a better environment for the future. But in order to complete this series on the environment, we had to discuss land, the people who originated from that land and the movements to restore and give back to Indigenous people. In this episode, we hear from a PhD student working on a research project to combat Indigenous people's invisibility in the St. Louis region and a Director providing a space for students to learn about American Indian history and culture.

Bonus: A Conversation with Dr. Dorceta Taylor

Throughout this season we have introduced you to small urban farmers, people working on the ground to change their environment, politicians working to pass environmental legislation, and more. But there are also many environmental scholars working to provide a space for Black environmentalists to thrive. That's why we are introducing you to Dr. Dorceta Taylor, an author and professor at the Yale School for the Environment. In this episode, we hear about Dr. Taylor's work in environmental studies, the contributions Black folks have made to the environmental justice movement, and the power community leaders have to transform the environments where they live.

Part II: Civil Rights & Cumulative Impacts

We wanted to share a follow-up conversation with Myisha Johnson, one of the three working members of State Street Tenant Resistance and the founder of Community First Plus, a new housing and environmental justice organization. She's been connecting the dots between health problems and pollution from facilities like Kinder Morgan for over a decade. In this episode, we hear how Myisha felt when residents like her were asked to sign onto an administrative complaint to the EPA about the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Then, attorneys Sarah Rubenstein and Bob Menees of Great Rivers Environmental Law Center will share about what happened when they filed the administrative complaint to the EPA on behalf of the Missouri and St. Louis City NAACP and Dutchtown South Community Corporation. — This is Part II of a two-part series on how tenants are organizing to hold problem landlords accountable, and what happens when large companies and the state need to be held accountable too. If you haven't listened to Part I: Tenant Rights and Resistance, listen to it now!

Part I: Tenant Rights & Resistance

The pandemic triggered a major housing crisis, resulting in millions of renters and unhoused people across the country becoming at risk for being evicted or displaced. Meanwhile, those living in apartments with mold or pests have been stuck with environmental conditions that exacerbate asthma and COVID-19. Locally, tenants and housing advocates are pushing back by advocating for eviction moratoriums, holding landlords accountable, and working to create a tenants bill of rights. In this episode, we hear from the three working members of State Street Tenants Resistance about what motivates them to advocate for a tenants bill of rights, and the Community Empowerment Organizer of a local community development corporation will explain how to hold problem landlords accountable and what's at stake when large companies and the state need to be held accountable, too.

Legislating to Save Lives

Democratic Representative Cori Bush made history when she became the first Black Congresswoman for Missouri, unseating the Clay political dynasty. She brought her background as a nurse, activist, organizer, single mom and pastor to her new role and has jumped headfirst into advocating for issues ranging from reparations for Black Americans to taxing billionaires to Medicare for All. She teamed up with Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey and Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth to introduce a bill that would bring together federal agencies and create a mapping tool to help allocate environmental funding from the Biden administration. Just last week, she also joined forces with New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to introduce a $1 trillion dollar bill to fund environmental justice projects for the next four years. In this episode, we'll hear from Senator Tammy Duckworth and Congresswoman Cori Bush about three major environmental justice bills: the Environmental Justice for All Act, the Environmental Justice Mapping and Data Collection Act, and the Green New Deal for Cities Act. — This episode was a collaboration with Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio political correspondent and co-host of the Politically Speaking podcast. You can listen to the Politically Speaking episodes with Senator Duckworth and Congresswoman Bush at stlpr.org or anywhere you get podcasts.

Bonus: Urban Farmers

We wanted to share the stories of the people who are at the heart of the environmental justice movement: urban farmers. In St. Louis, urban farmers have made great strides and continue to educate the next generation about the importance of growing their own food. In this bonus episode, we visit an urban farm, then hear from a food justice director advocating for a healthier environment and the founder of a nonprofit that provides equitable access to food, education, and employment.

Boots to the Streets

The We Live Here team balances deep dives into systemic issues with inspiring stories about people working to make a difference in their own communities. So when a listener reached out and introduced us to the work of Jeffrey "JD" Dixon, an activist organizing cleanups and coalitions in East St. Louis, a predominantly Black city in Illinois, we knew that we'd have to drive across the river to share his story. In this episode, we'll learn about JD's demand for legislative reform, hear from a political science professor about the legacy of industrial suburbs, and talk to a reporter about how JD is one of many Black residents in the Metro East area of Illinois who are pushing back against environmental racism.

To Live and Thrive

We wanted to know how environmental issues affect babies and birthing people during childbirth, one of the most delicate life processes. In the U.S., Black babies are two times more likely to die before their first birthday than white babies, and Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications then white women. So in this episode, we hear from a documentary filmmaker about humanizing Black birthing people, a neonatal hospitalist about the effects the environment has on newborns and mothers and an executive director of an Equal Access Midwifery Clinic about supporting people of color through the birthing process.

Who Deserves Quality Air?

St. Louis is consistently listed as one of the worst "Asthma Capitals" in the country by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. During the pandemic, environmental issues such as dust from demolitions and housing conditions make it even harder for people to breathe. In this episode, we hear from a chronic disease epidemiologist and health education coordinator about an initiative to create healthier homes, an educator who collects racial and ethnic data to help us understand environmental issues in our region, and a reverend putting matters into his own hands to help his community live in a healthier environment.

Environmental Racism in St. Louis Report

In St. Louis, there are many stories about how environmental racism impacts everyday people and their health, housing, and daily lives. So in this season, we'll use the Washington University Interdisciplinary Environmental Law Clinic's 2019 report on Environmental Racism in St. Louis to guide us through conversations about the top environmental issues facing the most vulnerable communities in St. Louis. In this episode, we look back at how St. Louis' history of systemic racism has impacted the living environments of low-income and Black residents, how the report featured stories of everyday people, and what type of environment the report's recommendations could create for the next generation.

Farm Dreams & Toxic Dust

In this episode, we introduce you to two Black artists who teamed up to heal and educate their community through an urban farm in predominantly Black North St. Louis City. They share their vision for building an education garden with accessible raised beds, and growing flowers and healing herbs alongside chickens and bees. Then we learn about how they encountered a major obstacle that put their dreams on hold...

Trailer: Environmental Racism

In the last two seasons of the show, we have covered the COVID-19 pandemic and the current uprising for Black lives, both of which continue to shape society today. The pandemic and the uprising also raised two major questions, which we'll be addressing in our new season on environmental racism: How do we achieve a healthy life? And what kind of world do we want to leave for the next generation? These are profound questions for a region that boasts some of the most prestigious hospitals in the nation and is home to residents with some of the worst health outcomes. So in this season, we'll trace the connection between systemic racism, housing conditions, and health outcomes. But we'll also highlight the organizers, tenants rights advocates, and urban farmers who are working to improve conditions in their communities. The first episode of the environmental racism season drops on Friday, February 12th, anywhere you get podcasts.

Uprising: Storytelling through COVID

This year, we produced a season that put a racial equity lens on the COVID-19 pandemic and a season about the current uprising for Black lives. As a collective, we have faced this season's challenges head first and continue to press on by producing meaningful and impactful stories, which is why we wanted to know what other journalists in our region experienced during this time. In this episode, we'll hear from a correspondent for Kaiser Health News about the importance of telling the stories of everyday people during this time and a reporter from the St. Louis American will share what it's like to work on a year-long fellowship to produce stories about COVID-19 affecting the Black community.

Uprising: Artivism

Over the past months, we've seen civil unrest across the country in a renewed uprising for Black lives and the fight to hold police accountable. But we should not forget the painters, poets, musicians, and more who have decided that through their art they can motivate people to move into action. In this episode, we'll hear from a young man who found beauty in destruction and created a group for local Black artists, the founder of ART House will share about how she is building a place for artists of color to thrive in their own community, and the founder of UrbArts will teach us about art's ability to uncover systemic racism and how we can create a marketplace to support Black artists in a more meaningful way.

Uprising: Police Accountability

The call to defund the police has gained steam as activists and advocates bring attention to police budgets that they believe could be better allocated to education, healthcare, and social services. At the heart of this call is the question of whether or not police increase public safety. Growing numbers of people are joining a movement to abolish the current system of policing and imagine new structures for responding to mental health crises, domestic violence, and social problems created by poverty and racism. In this episode, we talk to the co-chairs of St. Louis' Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression about police accountability and the tension between efforts to reform and desire to abolish the current system of policing.

Uprising: Navigating Educational Inequities

Many schools have started hybrid in-person and online learning, even as coronavirus cases keep rising and students continue to experience disparities in accessing technology, meeting their daily needs, and learning at home. So in this episode, we'll hear from a first generation college student who has been helping her community navigate the education system and an executive director of a local education-based nonprofit will share what parents and families face when navigating the St. Louis Public Schools system and how that impacts students' experiences with higher education. And then, we'll zoom all the way out to examine why St. Louis' educational landscape remains uneven and segregated over six decades after the Brown vs. Board of Education decision. This episode was produced with the help of Lindy Drew, Lead Storyteller and Co-Founder of Humans of St. Louis, which is a paid content partner of Navigate STL Schools and Forward through Ferguson. As always, We Live Here's coverage remains independent.

Uprising: Movements on Campus

Back in early March, we were collecting stories from first generation college students about their experiences on campus. Since then, COVID-19 hit college campuses across the country and we're seeing a rising number of cases since students have returned for in-person classes. So in this episode, we hear from a first generation college student about navigating post-grad life during a pandemic, a health reporter will share what it's like to report about the virus at a university, and a student activist will tell us about how they are fighting to uplift the demands of Black students on campus.

Bonus: Back to the Clock Tower

Back in 2014, after the police killings of Michael Brown Jr. in North St. Louis County and VonDerrit Myers Jr. in South St. Louis City, the St. Louis University Clock Tower became a site for Occupy SLU: six days of teach-ins, community conversation, and an occupation by community activists and students, which resulted in the creation of 13 Clock Tower Accords to advance racial equity at the school. This year, after a grand jury in Kentucky declined to indict three Louisville police officers for shooting and killing Breonna Taylor, students gathered at the Clock Tower again to hold a vigil for Breonna Taylor and make new demands to change culture and policies at St. Louis University. On this bonus episode, we'll hear from three students who organized direct actions and a new list of demands to advance racial equity at St. Louis University.