Stability & Sustainability

“A parent arrives home one day to find the family’s possessions sitting on the curb. Those eviction threats were all too real.  A basement fills with water and the landlord won’t come around to deal with the problem. The family has no choice but to move.  An ex-boyfriend is making threats. A nearby apartment complex has a rent special going on. A family moves to be closer to a parent’s new job.  For many reasons, families move over the course of the school year. For children and their schools, the consequences can be profound.”

The article below highlights one reason I’m running for St. Louis City School Board.  My work with Project Raise The Roof keeps families in their homes.  We make sure those properties remain on the tax rolls, funding our schools—and that our students have a stable learning environment.  St. Louis City must address the root of our problems. We need stability before we can achieve sustainability.

For 4th grade teacher Angelica Saddler and her colleagues at Ingels Elementary School, a high student churn rate means extra work and challenges. BARBARA SHELLY / KCUR 89.3

http://kcur.org/post/heres-what-it-means-when-we-talk-about-student-churn-kansas-city#stream/0

Housing, Racial Equity, & Innovation

I believe in using any available resource to help others and change perceptions.  Last June, I opened the first and only 3 Airbnb’s north of Delmar, and they have been booked solid since they were listed.  For the past several months, I have offered modest, flexibly-priced spaces in North St. Louis to people both in the City and from numerous cities and countries via Airbnb.  By pairing otherwise vacant properties with people who have limited options for living situations, I hope to help those in transition find their way to stable housing.   Our guests have included foreign exchange students, business travelers, and City residents escaping slum lords or domestic violence.

I intend to show out-of-towners and fellow St. Louisans that, while North City has its ups and downs, the vast majority of the residents here are decent, hard working citizens, a few of whom are navigating the margin between oppression and destitution.  There are wonderful people here on the northside.  While it’s critical for us to confront our shortcomings as a city, we must also get to know our neighbors and focus on the positive aspects of our neighborhoods.  It’s refreshing to see the media reporting some good news from this side of town, and I’m fortunate to be a part of some of the great things happening here.

Click the links below for the written article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and the video news segments from KSDK and Fox 2.

 

In Solidarity,


 

 

Bruce and Rasheen Endorse Natalie!

I’m proud to be endorsed by Representative Bruce Franks, Jr. and 5th Ward Democratic Committeeman Rasheen Aldridge!  It has been an honor to stand with these superheroes over the past couple years.  I’m excited to continue our work together in taking a hands-on, holistic approach to empowering ALL St. Louis students and families.
Click here to add your own endorsement for Natalie!

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Thank you all for your nonstop hard work and support.

 

With love and solidarity,

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#BlackHistoryMonth – We Owe Our Kids More

#BlackHistoryMonth has been around, in some form, for nearly 100 years.  It’s 2017, and I believe we can do better.  Civil rights leaders’ accomplishments are taught in a way designed to makes us feel safe and comfortable.  The message has basically been reduced to “a long time ago, the status quo was really bad, but then some good people came along and made it better, and today’s status quo is pretty much acceptable”.  But let’s be real.  If society had already learned every lesson we needed to know from Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Robert Smalls, Dr. King, and Rosa Parks…there would have been no hashtags for #MichaelBrown, #PhilandoCastile, #EricGarner, #TrayvonMartin, #SandraBland, and the ever-growing list of victims…

We must do more than just spend one month per year studying the achievements of long-dead Black innovators and civil rights heroes.  Our students deserve real-life interactions with living, local community activists and allies who are working toward a better society.  Our Black students should grow up knowing that their futures matter.  We must teach our children to identify the source of systemic oppression, to always analyze the status quo, and how to dismantle the systems that hold them back.

 

In solidarity,

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MDP Progressive Caucus

Many of us Progressives have felt adrift since we lost “our only hope”, Bernie Sanders.  The hardest blow came when Donald Trump took the presidency from Hillary Clinton.  But today in Jefferson City, with the formation of the Missouri Democratic Party’s Progressive Caucus, we were formally given a voice within the Democratic Party.  We are truly and officially empowered to begin shaping good policies for ALL Missourians.  This was a heart-warming and much-needed reunion.  My mind and spirit are re-ignited, and I’m honored to continue the revolution alongside so many passionate, hard-working, inspiring people!

MDPBernieReunionPhoto by Anne-Sophie Liberman, courtesy of Rae English

Get On The Bus Campaign Kick-Off

Come out and support Natalie Vowell for STL City School Board!  If you don’t already know Natalie, this is your chance to meet and learn more about the local activist who will turn our city’s schools around.  Together, we WILL change the future!

Thursday, January 26th
7pm – 10pm
Yaquis on Cherokee (click for map)
2728 Cherokee Street, 63118
FREE to attend – Donations appreciated!
RSVP on Facebook (optional)

Enjoy pizza, cocktails, and community conversations with us at Yaquis on Cherokee.   The Social Justice Bus will be on site.  Register to vote or update your voter information, and support a Black-owned northside business.  Ma’De Life will have locally made t-shirts on hand for sale.

Time to party with a purpose!   #VoteVowell

END the School-To-Prison Pipeline!

On January 1st, 2017, a Missouri new state statute took effect.  Under this new law, school officials will no longer treat schoolyard scuffles as minor offenses. Students may now be charged with a felony for assault, regardless of their age or grade.

This is a preposterous policy proposed by heartless, unrealistic, out-of-touch authoritarians; it only perpetuates and fortifies the #SchoolToPrisonPipeline.  And (newsflash) it would apply to low-income rural white kids just as it would urban African American kids.

So often, especially with young/adolescent kids, it’s hard to tell who actually initiated the fight or caused an injury. (Parents with multiple kids can attest to the difficulty of determining “who started it”. Imagine being a teacher with 20+ kids to keep an eye on, their guilt or innocence entirely in your hands.)

Some of these students are defending themselves against bullies; others are coping with stress-related behavioral problems caused by circumstances beyond their control, such as divorce or the death of a family member.

This policy seems to leave little room for due process, and even if a student manages to overcome their hurdles to graduate, he or she will leave high school with a felony?!
The point-fingers-and-penalize approach is administrative overreach far beyond the scope of our schools’ primary purpose: informing and uplifting our kids. Doling out felonies is NOT education.

If school administrators want to get more involved, they should offer counseling and conflict resolution, NOT stricter punishments that leave a lasting negative impact, effectively ruining the lives of the very children we trust them to protect.


#VoteVowell on April 4th.



For more information, please see the links below:
https://thinkprogress.org/missouri-school-felonies-d840e8ec7242#.vxw6307pi
http://www.moga.mo.gov/mostatutes/stathtml/55800000111.html

 



 

Natalie Elected as DNC Bernie Delegate

I am honored and humbled to represent Bernie Sanders alongside Alderwoman Megan Green at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia!  Tonight’s election proved that smart people with good hearts and cheap technology can defeat archaic institutions.  Thanks to everyone who came out to elect the right people!


Photo by Jason Rosenbaum, originally posted here:
http://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/trail-tying-loose-ends-missouris-congressional-caucuses#stream/0