Fire. Hammers. A pottery wheel. Some of humanity?s most elemental and primitive tools, yet into the 21st century they remain. And Craft Alliance Program Director Susan Donahue Yates attests that they?re some of the coolest. With each season?s catalog of classes, some of the most popular, according to Yates, let students play with fire, hammer metal into jewelry, or shape a lump of clay into something as fundamentally beautiful as a baby seal mimicking the Mona Lisa?s wry smirk.
At Craft Alliance, the focus is art in all its forms. Whether the tool is the raw flame fusing cut copper or a Mac loaded with Photoshop image-editing software, the intention to inspire and to create remains the same. Its two locations schedule seasonal terms with four- to six-week classes, as well as intensive workshops and children?s classes. Guiding each student along his or her adventure, skilled faculty instruct from experience. Most are working artists who exhibit their work and who have reaped their experience from the trenches of the art world.
Craft Alliance is not just empowering people with knowledge; they are also helping people make mugs, bowls, wooden spinning tops, rings, rugs, and digital photo albums. Many of these things are practical and serve a functional purpose. But many do not?they?re just beautiful things, like vestigial tails. A good number of these pieces are created by hand and are meant to remind us, as Yates remarked, that everyone can do something different from their everyday, workaday lives by adding beauty to a world that truly needs it.
The student and faculty artists backbone the Craft Alliance community, which in 2014 celebrates its 50th anniversary. The Grand Center location represents a regeneration of an arts district already pillared by the Fabulous Fox Theatre, Powell Symphony Hall, and St. Louis University.
Food Outreach's team of staff and volunteers supports a growing number of local clients from diverse backgrounds and ages that now numbers more than 1,700 annually. To help foster a sense of community among its clients and their caregivers, Food Outreach hosts a Monday Hot Lunch program in its dining room. Guest chefs from the area or Food Outreach's own resident chef prepare the weekly three-course meal, and clients who attend enjoy restaurant style dining, complete with china, silverware, and linens. The nutritious meal changes every week, and an average of more than 100 clients attend each Monday Hot Lunch.
Drive A Tank teaches civilians how to handle tanks by placing them at the controls of an FV433 Abbot tank. Comprehensive tank experiences include lessons on the history of its use, from World War I up to its present function as the vehicle of choice for the most aggressive holiday shoppers. During certain packages, tanksters complete their militaristic forays by test firing WWII-era weaponry or crushing cars beneath behemoth treads.
The green thumbs at Gateway Greening believe in the power of a garden. For nearly three decades they have promoted gardening in both public spaces and private backyards as a solution to urban issues ranging from food insecurity to sedentary lifestyles. Through a citywide network of more than 200 gardens—including community vegetable gardens, tree and shrub plantings, and street beautification projects—the organization brings fresh food to the community, teaches hands-on lessons, and uses empty space in a positive way. Member gardeners can attend educational workshops on garden care, watering, and landscaping principles, and take advantage of assistance with project planning and procurement of materials.
Other key Gateway Greening programs work with specific populations to encourage self-sufficiency. The City Seeds Urban Farm, provides job training to individuals experiencing homelessness and distributes fresh, locally grown produce to nearby food pantries. Also youth gardens supported by Gateway Greening dot the grounds of more than 60 local schools.
See how Groupon helps you discover local causes and lend a helping hand at the Groupon Grassrootsblog.
The Mission Continues fellowship program helps soldiers reorient their abilities and talents for the benefit of local nonprofits. Via 14- to 28-week paid service opportunities, The Mission Continues fellows can both fulfill their drive to help others and translate their military-trained leadership skills and work ethic into civilian work, improving their communities as well as their chances for future success. Each fellowship is performed in honor of a fallen American serviceperson, whom may be selected by the fellow or by the Travis Manion Foundation.
Debate is about more than arguing a point. It is about understanding an issue so well that you can coherently defend its merits against an opponent. It requires critical-thinking skills, an understanding of facts and logic, and the ability to perform under pressure. And it can change the trajectory of a student's academic career.
The Saint Louis Urban Debate League helps youth in underserved communities rise to the challenge. Every month, more than 150 students at nine area high schools research a topic of national or international importance and make logical, fact-based arguments for action. Weekend workshops and annual tournaments pit the strongest debaters against each other for the chance to debate in ever more challenging arenas and improve their debating skills. In addition to fostering academic achievement by engaging students in their own learning, the Saint Louis Urban Debate League aims to propel students along the path to college and career success, with the ultimate goal of closing the achievement gap for students from poor or minority backgrounds.
See how Groupon helps you discover local causes and lend a helping hand at the Groupon Grassroots blog.