2000 Progress Report: St. Louis: Monitoring Environmental Parameters in a Community at RiskEPA Grant Number: R828211
Title: St. Louis: Monitoring Environmental Parameters in a Community at Risk
Investigators: Forlaw, Blair
Institution: East - West Gateway Coordinating Council
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: May 1, 2000 through October 1, 2001
Project Period Covered by this Report: May 1, 2000 through October 1, 2001
Project Amount: $335,000
RFA: Environmental Monitoring for Public Access and Community Tracking (EMPACT) (1999) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Environmental Statistics , Water , Ecosystems , Air , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration
Objective:The neighboring cities of St. Louis, Missouri, and East St. Louis, Illinois, constitute a single distressed community at the core of the St. Louis metropolitan area. They are the backbone of the Greater St. Louis Regional Empowerment Zone and the focus of a number of private and public renewal initiatives.
Officials of these jurisdictions have come together with the East-West Gateway Coordinating Council to link and enhance existing information systems that describe environmental conditions in the area and to coordinate and improve our ability to communicate this information effectively to the public. This initiative is built on a unique combination of state-of-the-art modern technologies and old-fashioned community outreach and engagement. Our specific objectives are to: (1) develop a community-based information and communications technology that will equip residents of urban neighborhoods to monitor and act on environmental conditions in their communities; (2) promote understanding among citizens regarding the health and ecological risks associated with identified environmental problems so that they can minimize and avoid exposure for themselves and their families; and (3) facilitate the sharing of time-relevant information and information-management tools and techniques among the multiple jurisdictions serving the urban core.
Name Change. To improve our appeal to the populations that we are targeting, and to more accurately describe our program's purpose, the core group of this initiative decided in October to change the name of the project to Community Environmental Resource Program (CERP).
Personnel Changes. Added to the core group of personnel for this initiative were the following: Arnold Montgomery, Ronald Steinkamp, and John Messmer. Mr. Montgomery and Mr. Steinkamp act as the EMPACT Coordinators for the project. Mr. Messmer acts as the Project Manager.
Core Group Meetings. Regular meetings are held to keep the core members of the project abreast of the program's progress and to help plan strategies for the future. These "core group meetings" are held approximately every 3 weeks.
Advisory Group. Two advisory groups help the core group monitor the project's progress and provide suggestions. One of these groups, the "Advisory Group," is made up of professionals and regional stakeholders with vested interests in the environmental well-being of the community. A meeting with this group was held in December to help chart out our project's strategy within the community.
Community Communications Council. The second of these advisory groups, the "Community Communications Council," consists of residents of St. Louis and East St. Louis. A meeting with this group was held in March to help us with the Web site design, provide us with advice on our outreach efforts, and contribute to the overall evaluation of the program.
Public Presentations. The two EMPACT coordinators and the Project Manager have tried to keep in close contact with the community by attending neighborhood association meetings, community development gatherings, and environmental conferences. Since October, this has provided us with the opportunity to advertise our project, keep in close contact with the community, and more fully distribute educational material.
Web Site. A key piece to this project's effectiveness lies with its use of the Internet. A Web site has been created that will: (1) allow users to collect information about specific environmental health issues in their community; and (2) provide information about addressing specific problems. Plans for the future call for the site to allow users to collect current environmental information about a specific location in their community.
Publications. A number of publications have been created to help disseminate important information about our program and about current environmental health issues:
- Newsletters?Newsletters are our primary means of distributing information to the public. Since April, we have published a monthly four-page newsletter?directed at residents in the community?that addresses various environmental topics. Past editions have looked at lead, air quality, water quality, asbestos, and brownfields. We mail out these newsletters to approximately 400 addresses across the community and distribute copies at neighborhood meetings, community conferences, and "dropoff" locations throughout St. Louis and East St. Louis. These dropoff locations include supermarkets, medical offices, libraries, and schools.
- Brochures?In January, we produced a brochure that describes our project's objectives and the EMPACT program. The brochure also includes a fold-out map highlighting important points of contact in St. Louis and East St. Louis.
- Children's Materials?We have had the opportunity to distribute several items designed to educate young children about environmental health issues. The Missouri Department of Health produces anti-lead materials featuring "Leadosaurus?the Lead Fighting Dinosaur." With their permission, we have distributed hundreds of stickers, magnets, and activity books throughout the community. Similarly, St. Clair County has given us permission to copy and distribute an educational coloring book that they have put together, which features "Chipper?the Lead Fighting Puppy."
Future activities will include:
- Continued Web site development. This will include the incorporation of an "address locator" that will allow users to retrieve environmental information for a specific location/property/address.
- Continued outreach into the community.
- Collaboration with public school teachers on how to incorporate environmental health education within a curriculum.
- Continued publication of newsletters. Future issues will include features on abandoned buildings, illegal dumping, toxic waste, and lead poisoning.
- Replication of the Dorchester Lead-Safe Yard Project. Staff of the University of Illinois' Neighborhood Technical Assistance Center will lead a lead-safe yard program for approximately 30 at-risk homes throughout East St. Louis.