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In her first "weekly" update since the one that was quoted in the RFT nine months ago, Metropolis St. Louis president Christina Reid announced that she is resigning immediately to move to California. Apparently, the organization that was formed to attract young people to the city of St. Louis can't even retain its own leaders.

During Christina's year-and-a-half snooze at the wheel, Metropolis has continued to go downhill, as detailed in the article by Dave Drebes entitled "Metropolis Flounders: Needs to Revitalize Self" in the June 9th issue of the Arch City Chronicle. Money, members (especially young ones) and communication are all in short supply. Metropolis' calendar reads like it's for a health-conscious walking club.

Four steering committee members besides Christina recently resigned: Keri Ross (secretary), Dennis Gorg (marketing), the perennially MIA Matt Stevens (policy) and Julie Rivinus (social). Three of them have been mysteriously replaced by new board members on Metropolis' website. The change took place without a public call for self-nominations and without a public meeting to interview the candidates — the way the organization traditionally handled changes to the steering committee. In fact, the resignations were never even announced.

Look for upcoming articles about Metropolis' fall from glory in the Business Journal and by Sylvester Brown in the Post-Dispatch. Stick a fork in it; it's done.

Update: Sylvester Brown's column ran in the Post today under the headline "Youth is fleeting - and maybe so is Metropolis St. Louis."

As an explanation for Metropolis' inactivity, Christina Reid offered the standard copout that it's a member-driven organization in a lame attempt to absolve herself and the other steering committee members of their utter failure to do their jobs and provide the organizational framework necessary to keep things running. They've stopped sending out weekly email updates, monthly newsletters, meeting agendas, minutes and membership renewals. They don't create treasurer's reports, respond to questions from project leaders, hold project group meetings or announce meetings more than a day in advance. A majority of them don't even show up to steering committee meetings. Back in the day, in addition to doing all of the above, steering committee members also proposed or helped organize most of the group's projects. Some total nut cases even quit their jobs to focus on volunteering for Metropolis. It hurts to see an organization that so many people put so much effort into being driven into the ground by laziness.

Sightem: Dave Drebes was spotted today wearing a Metropolis Lot t-shirt.

Posted under Other by Brian Marston on Thu., Jun 17, 2004 at 1:08 AM


In all fairness, there have been other Metropolis steering committee members who have left the city of St. Louis, some even for the 'burbs. Some didn't even live in the city of St. Louis during their terms, and not just the one who comes to mind so easily for those who read this.

I don't think people have left the area mid-term, though.

[Posted by Butler Miller on Thu., Jun 17, 2004 at 9:43 AM]

How is Metropolis supposed to thrive when board leadership traditionally sets no direction through plans or priorties (other than stating its lofty mission...) and then offloads the responsibilty to create projects to members?


[Posted by rick on Thu., Jun 17, 2004 at 10:50 AM]


I'm neither surprised, nor shocked, to see you weighing in on this issue here and elsewhere. I'm at a loss as to your claim that the organization has "traditionally" been rudderless, as you suggest. I can think of several Steering Committees with aggressive delegates, who had large, active work groups. And, for that matter, a real harmonious balance between top-down and bottom-up work; i.e. not only were members planning and executing projects regularly, they had the support of their SCs. I think that claiming a lack of organization policy-setting is a broad, and unfair, even specious, argument. Unless you have some specific examples to share.

Are you speaking of recent SCs? All SCs? Or is this post another of your straw man arguments, meant to solely incite some conversation and discussion? If that's the case, bravo, I've bitten, despite telling myself not to.

As evidenced by so many of your posts on the Metropolis "leadership" issue over several years, I'm inclined to believe one of two things: a) you are profoundly contrarian; or b) (and I suspect this one to be the case) despite years of membership in and knowledge of Metropolis, you still have utterly no grasp of the functions and mechanics or the organization.


[Posted by Thomas Crone on Thu., Jun 17, 2004 at 12:45 PM]

While I have nowhere near the Metropolis resume as many others reading this list, I served one term on the steering commitee.

During that time, I proposed the idea that the organization set a number of specific priorities to help it accomplish its stated mission. That idea was not supported by that SC. Instead, the response was "the mission is the priority".

Similar suggestions to set general plans for the organization's formal direction were rejected out of concern for turning Metropolis into the more traditional types of organizations it so much wanted not to be. So it remained true to its "member driven" focus.

Unfortunatley, as we have seen, things have gradually started to fall apart. Brian says its over. He might be right.

The main issue that has always troubled me about Metropolis, is how an organization, *any organization*, one that is run by a board of directors (the Steering Committee), is somehow supposed to be sustainable without having its board take responsibility for officially setting the direction of the organization.

Board members, by getting buy-in for specific objectives, projects, and long term goals, energize the membership base to partner on accomplishing priorotized goals and strategies. The current structure of Metropolis relies on members to take the lead. Most people by nature are passive to want to do that, and need someone to give them something to do. They need to be led. They *want* to be led.

Without having some formal strategy for accomplishing the mission, and creating ways to bringing to action the potential power of the membership base, what is the point of having the organization?

If Brian is right, that we may soon be witnessing the end of the organization, then doesn't everyone that has a stake in the organization share in its downfall?

Or given the passive structure of the whole thing, maybe there is no responsibilty by design?


[Posted by rick on Thu., Jun 17, 2004 at 1:38 PM]

"you get what you put in, and people get what they deserve." = Kid Rock

I just don't understand why Metropolis is now bad. It used to be the "launching point" for many of you.


[Posted by Jeff Wiegand on Fri., Jun 18, 2004 at 2:24 AM]

There seems to be a theory out there that Metropolis "made" certain people, when in fact, those people made Metropolis.

"It's better to burn out than to fade away
. . .
And once you're gone, you can never come back
When you're out of the blue and into the black"
-- Neil Young

[Posted by Brian Marston on Fri., Jun 18, 2004 at 3:01 PM]

Metropolis made people, people made Metropolis. I believe both are true.

Through Metropolis, people gained skills, confidence etc. to be on the neighborhood board, to run for Alderman, etc. Those people may not have had the opportunity to develop without Metropolis.

Others threw their considerable talents into the organization, making it what it is/was.

[Posted by Butler Miller on Mon., Jun 21, 2004 at 9:15 AM]

I said a long time ago that I might not still be in St. Louis if not for Metropolis. In the summer of 1997, I had been here a year, and basically knew nobody and had no fun. I found St. Louis circles of people very closed and unwelcoming - I was floundering. A year later, after serving on the steering committee, I bought a condo and decided to stay here for law school. Metropolis gave me a sense of place and enabled a network of colleagues and friends who shared similar passions (some of whom I even still talk to - except for Butler, of course).

It is sad to not see evidence of what can be created when the passion "back in the day" comes together with such groundswelling. Dave Drebes has indicated that leaders of Metropolis need to be in their 20's (which I have not always agreed with). Just about everyone who is writing is no longer actively involved in Metropolis, due to so many life changes, including developing our own investments in the community. Does there need to be a post-Metropolis organization that brings together those of us that still care about similar issues, but may have less time, more commitments, and more gray hairs than we did "back in the day"? I'm just saying that there has been a lot of ink (including mine) on the issue of "the way things were", and imagine if we put all the energy together that felt that way.
Or, alternatively, is it time for us "alumni" to re-invest ourselves in Metropolis and redefine what the organization is? Perhaps the mission is still relevant, but the St. Louis landscape is different than it was 7 years ago, and perhaps radical re-organization is necessary to rediscover the grass-roots excitement that once was.

[Posted by John Ginsburg on Mon., Jun 21, 2004 at 10:39 AM]

A friend of mine, who has yet to post on this topic, suggested that perhaps Metropolis would be better if it only had 100, truly hard core members, all city residents, than the 800 - 1000 people that were involved in name/dues only.

He may be right.

If Metropolis doesn't make it, what organization is out there that carries on a mission to revitalize the whole city?

There are lots of neighborhood organizations and other special purpose entities, but what organization is out there for the average person that is interested in seeing the whole city thrive?



[Posted by Rick on Tue., Jun 22, 2004 at 9:14 AM]

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