No one living in any part of the St. Louis region is immune to the risks posed by uncontrolled anger, misunderstanding, and instability - and, sometimes, unrest and tragedy - that come from unresolved issues of economic inequality, social strife, and racial division.
Some people try to move away from it. Not all. And it is less and less clear where "away from it" might be, anyway.
For the past 40 years, a special sort of people have been coming to the City of St. Louis and making it their home, striving to meet these challenges head on. To be neighbors and welcome neighbors from all walks of life. To embrace diversity. To engage, and be engaged, in community life. To look after one another. To be a part of the celebrations, worries, meditations, complexities and controversies of city living - two steps forward, one step back.
Few city neighborhoods better exemplify this social movement than Shaw. Bounded by the Missouri Botanical Garden to the west, Tower Grove Park to the south, Grand Boulevard to the east, and Interstate 44 to the North, the Shaw Neighborhood has attracted generation after generation of people and families with a deep commitment to community progress. Shaw residents pursue the kind of progress that begins at home and extends its hand to neighbors on the block and at church and at community meetings, and that rallies when trouble comes.
Tragedy visited the Shaw neighborhood this month, with the sudden and violent death of 18-year-old Shaw resident, Vonderrit Myers, Jr. A full and transparent investigation will examine whatever can be known and will still leave some without satisfaction.
Shaw stands together today, saddened but steady, in its promise of social progress. The neighborhood is not alone. All who pursue the urban ideal of a shining city on the hill can say in a real sense in this time of trouble that they, too, live in Shaw.
(Photo: A streetscape in Shaw illuminated by the stretched light before sunset.)