Welcome to the Community Spotlight, a new series for the Park Central blog. Each week, Park Central will feature a member of the community who lives, works, or is a regular visitor of the central corridor of St. Louis. This person may be front-and-center or be working behind the scenes, may be a local entrepreneur or a dedicated customer, a long-time homeowner or a new apartment dweller. We will bring you the folks who generally make life special in our neighborhoods.
Matt Schaefer moved to Forest Park Southeast two years ago after visiting several local establishments. Shortly after moving to the neighborhood, he took a position as a bike mechanic for Randy’s Recycled Cycles. Matt’s experiences in Forest Park Southeast and the Grove highlight the strong sense of acceptance and community that is present in the neighborhood.
“I think it’s the living green thing, it’s the footprint. There is zero foot print. It doesn’t take anything but the fuel we put in our bodies to fuel these bikes. So I think it’s just great to use the energy we already have and it’s really good for fitness. It’s an all in all win for everyone in the community.”
Question: When did you first move into the neighborhood?
“I moved into the neighborhood just about 2 years ago. I came down and checked out this little establishment here called the HandleBar and fell in love with the place. And a week later moved my girlfriend and I up here immediately. It is a neat up and coming area and I’m proud to be a part of it.”
Question: What drew you into the neighborhood to really make you want to move here?
“It seemed like a more relaxed neighborhood. I think what really made me come here was one there was a place available here. The whole sense of neighborhood and community is what brought me here, that’s the main reason for coming here.”
Question: What do you want to see happen or change the most in the neighborhood?
“I kind of like the way it is going. I don’t know if there is a whole lot I would change. Every time I go out and meet people they say oh it is my first time here and somebody has brought them. You know it is already happening, I can’t ask for anything more in a neighborhood.”
Question: Where do you get your energy and passion from for the neighborhood and your job?
“This community has a real sense of family, a real sense of, you know, community. So that’s where I get my passion, I would say the community gives a lot of compassion for new people and making people feel comfortable. And that’s where my passion for the Grove and wanting to help the Grove, be a part of the Grove, live in the Grove, plant myself in the Grove, work in the Grove, play in the Grove, it’s because the Grove is inviting. They are friendly. I want to be friendly back.”
Question: What about the community here makes it better than the other places you have lived?
“The ability to walk up to a complete stranger and meet them. You can walk up and meet anybody you want. You can talk to anybody. No one is judging. Everyone is welcoming no matter who you are or what you look like. That’s what I like about the Grove. It is nice to come and be accepted somewhere by everyone no matter what you look like. Everyone is welcome. The coolest looking guy. The dorkiest looking guy. You’re in the Grove and everyone is equal here.”
Next time you’re in the Grove, stop by and say hi to Matt. We are glad we did! Thanks for sharing your neighborhood with us, Matt. Next week, we will cover the Central West End and talk to Ron Silverman about the upcoming Whole Foods.