project leader
Green City Coalition S
5001 Robin Ave
(Walnut Park)
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the project

High school students at Northwest Academy of Law and Social Justice, as part of their 'There ARE Children Here' campaign, have been reclaiming vacant properties and reimagining their neighborhood - infusing art into derelict properties as a reminder that there ARE, in fact, children here.

The Walnut Park East neighborhood has one of the highest rates of vacancy in St. Louis: 36% of all land is vacant, with more than 400 vacant buildings and almost 600 vacant lots. In May 2018, students in the Artivism and Social Justice clubs, along with local artist Cbabi Bayoc, painted the board-ups for 11 vacant buildings that face the school. (Similar projects in St. Louis City and others have found that art on vacant buildings results in less building use and vandalism.) 

As the next step, this group of student artivists would like to create and install an outdoor sculpture installation on the vacant lots surrounding the school grounds. In early 2018, six hazardous vacant buildings were demolished, leaving almost an entire block of vacant lots. This area is consistently used for illegally dumping, where it is easy to hide debris among overgrown weeds and old fence lines. The City's Forestry department recently cleared the lots of all but mature trees, preparing the canvas for this project. 

The students and Cbabi would now like to develop an installation along the theme of 'There ARE Children Here' - sculptures demonstrating children playing outside and enjoying the outdoors. In combination with improved vacant property maintenance through the Green City Coalition, this project will transform what was once a block of vacant buildings and lots and debris into an artful, accessible community open space that encourages us all to reimagine vacancy in St. Louis and to remember that there ARE children here.  

the steps

Week 1: Design Workshop: students will discuss the types of activities they do outside and what they would do if they could. These conversations will guide the design of vignettes of activities showcased in the artwork. The words “There ARE Children Here” will also be included in the installation as a reminder to all in the area.

Week 2: Conceptualizing and sketching overall placement of vignettes, words and other pieces needed for the activities to be depicted.

Week 3-5: Prepping the polymetal sheets, sketching and painting children, cutting metal into shapes and varnishing the pieces to withstand the elements.

Week 6: Installation of pieces

why we're doing it

Vacancy negatively impacts every aspect of community - vacant properties decrease property values for neighboring owners, discourage investment  and continued disinvestment in the community and contribute to neighborhood decline, reduce available tax revenues, and decrease the quality of life for residents. 

Walnut Park has one of the highest rates of vacancy in the City and the highest rates of illegal dumping. Many students are uncomfortable walking to and from school, or using the adjacent Carter Park. Derelict and crumbling buildings are unsightly and unsafe and their continued omnipresence leaves a sense of feeling forgotten. Overgrown vacant lots encourage the dumping of construction debris, mattresses, tires, and more, further decreasing not only safety but environmental health. 

By transforming vacant properties to artful community open space, we remove hazardous structures, discourage illegal dumping, improve air, soil, and water quality, and increase public health and safety. We transform vacancy to vibrancy, and we remember that there ARE children here!  


Materials & Supplies: $2,199

Artistry by Cbabi Bayoc: $5,000

Resident Installation: $1,500

Subtotal = $8,699
ioby Platform Fee $35
Donation Processing Fee of 3% $261
Total to raise = $8,995



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