New Year's Revolution: If you had the power to make one change that would improve life for St. Louisans in 2012, what would that change be?

Don't know about you, but 2012 sure snuck up on us — if not like a thief in the night then like that crazy uncle (you know, the one with the preposterous comb-over) you only see at family gatherings, where he invariably materializes entirely out of nowhere and pinches you on the ass while you're trying as nonchalantly as possible to mix your third Bacardi-and-Coke that's pretty much all Bacardi and no Coke. It could be this crazy winter, which apparently didn't get the memo till this past Sunday, or it could be that such a huge chunk of 2011 passed with nothing whatsoever to recommend it or remember it by, until all of a sudden the Cardinals were winning the World Series and everything was bathed in a warm and rosy glow you could have basked in forever...

...And then you wake up with a shitty rum hangover and a bruise on your ass and you're late for your shift at the job you're woefully overworked and underpaid for, and the recession still sucks and damn it's cold and Albert Pujols is gone like LeBron.

Fortunately, we St. Louisans are a hardy bunch. Overweight and out of shape, perhaps, but by golly, we're resilient! Just give us a couple of days and we'll be right back in the fray, doing our stoic Midwestern best. (With a side of inferiority complex.) (And keep those rum-and-Cokes coming.)

Justin Johnson
Kholood Eid
Justin Johnson
Anna Crosslin
Kholood Eid
Anna Crosslin

In the meantime, we thought it might be a good idea to prime the ol' can-do-spirit pump by meditating upon a question. Not just any question, mind you, but one that's easily asked yet not-so-readily answered, and, moreover, one that utterly reeks of positive juju.

If you had the power to make one change that would improve life for St. Louisans in 2012, what would that change be?

While we were at it, we figured we'd pose that same question to a bunch of our fellow citizens. And here's what they had to say...

Justin Johnson, singer and guitarist for Pretty Little Empire
Not to sound all Whitney Houston on you, but let's do something for the kids. The change I would make to improve the lives of St. Louis residents would be an increase in the number of youth centers, specifically geared toward the arts, throughout the city and county. Growing up in St. Louis, I felt a real lack of non-sports-related activities to get involved in. It would have been great to have a place to go and find new interests. In the last ten years or so, technology has made it much easier to make films, record music and create multimedia works of art. If money were no object, it would be great to have a state-of-the-art media center where kids and teens could go after school and on weekends. It would give them a chance to experiment with a variety of mediums and allow the process of starting and completing projects without worrying about how to finance them. Kids and teens in St. Louis would benefit immensely from having a place to paint, sculpt, record, edit, film, write and just be able to create, without worry. I know that growing up, I would have loved it.

Anna Crosslin, president and CEO of the International Institute of St. Louis
Attract more immigrants. They are outstanding entrepreneurs and, thus, job creators. Since our immigrant population in this region is smaller than the national average, our growth in biotech, IT and other key job sectors is hampered.

Redditt Hudson, candidate for Missouri State Senate
I would work to improve public schools throughout the region and fully invest every resource to do it. Public schools continue to be the most available opportunity for children to be educated here and throughout the country. We would be finished blaming people, whether it be parents, teachers and their unions, or educational administrators, and commit everyone to the priority, educating children, because now you've got everything you need to do it, and there are no more excuses. With those unlimited resources, I would create stable neighborhoods throughout the region that would support quality schools right where they are so that children would not have to be transferred or bused somewhere else to learn.

And I would start that quality education early — early-childhood education is vital to a child going forward, and I would make damn sure all children had access to it. If there were charter school models that showed some promise, I would be willing to engage them with some shared resources, but I don't think there has been a showing anywhere in the country that they are, generally, any better than our public schools. Just look at the Imagine Academy example. And finally, I would challenge those legislators who find a way to take more resources away from public education every year — and then criticize performance and outcomes in public schools — to become part of the solution.

Abesi Manyando, president and creative director of Abesi Public Relations & Marketing LLC
If I could change one thing, I would create a great, thriving economy in St. Louis and ensure that everyone had a great source of income. The basis of our greatest issues, such as poverty, education and crime, stem from our economy. I would give tax credits to business owners first. I would capitalize on the wide range of talent in St. Louis by creating three things as sources of economic growth. A major film-production studio — this would create a wide range of jobs, ranging from acting, technology, music to production. It would also increase the publicity of the city of St. Louis and attract new tourism and commerce. I would also create a major theater and music base in St. Louis. Tapping into our rich artistic talents could change the dynamics of St. Louis as it has for cities such as New York, LA and Atlanta. Creating these three things would give a wide range of talented people different avenues for employment. This would also encourage talented people to not have to leave St. Louis in order to make it, all while making St. Louis' economy greater. I would also use the taxes from our sports teams to go into the Saint Louis Public Schools' budget. If we don't educate our children, we will have no future.

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