President and Founder of Community Allies
Sarah Hobson, PhD. is the founder and president of Community Allies. She supports educators, businesses, and government agencies in doing their part together to advance equity. Drawing on years of researching her youth ethnodrama programs, she developed Honoring Stories and Integrating Curriculum™, a systematic way for educators to design culturally responsive trauma-informed instruction that engages students as regional and national change-makers. Honoring Stories and Integrating Curriculum™ helps organizations streamline internal operations, strengthen bridge-building and collaboration within and across departments, maximize learning about processes that foster sustained cultural competence, and yield products, services and instructional designs that align with broader demographics and that contribute to thriving communities.
What makes St. Louis a model city for other mid-size cities?
St. Louis is the product of a Civil War border state divided between north and south. The north imposed its ideals on a southern-leaning state, and reconstruction was not mandated the way it was in the south. Thus, racial tensions were suppressed, races and classes were divided, and conversation within and across race hardly happened until the powder keg was lit by Michael Brown’s death. St. Louis is chock-full of people and organizations who are invested in community-centered development. Community development has been a steady aspect of every generation of undermining through redlining, eminent domain, and displacement. Black and brown communities have consistently organized to challenge the blighting of their neighborhoods, businesses, and homes. Their collective organizing within and across race, class, and gender has contributed to the overturning of national unjust laws. The forces of displacement continue, and the strength of community development continues to secure land, resources, and the visibility of black and brown people, communities, and plights.
St. Louis is one of the few cities in which affordable housing and the affordable cost of living persist. It is also a small enough city, and people across organizations, municipalities, and collective action efforts can easily find one another. We have multi-faceted community development corporations who are preserving our affordability and creating room for black and brown families to access a host of sustainable resources, starting with housing. There is much work to be done to preserve land, housing, and affordability for black and brown people and all of St. Louis, but I believe St. Louis citizens and organizations are awake enough and caring enough to educate those who want to use investment in corporations to rebuild North St. Louis for corporate and regional interests. And having been a part of that educational effort and the growing number of people tuning into our regional history, I believe corporations and universities are capable of hearing how to merge their efforts on behalf of community-led development.
What do you find most inspiring about your city?
I am inspired by the spirit and strength of collective action that has consistently come from black and brown communities over every generation. I am inspired by the many organizations who understand community development and who are forming coalitions and locking arms to bring change. I am inspired by the collective regional hunger to talk across race and to rebuild our St. Louis family.