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Hope for 2021: St. Louisans Have Their Wish Lists Ready 

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St. Louis police Chief John Hayden. - DOYLE MURPHY
  • St. Louis police Chief John Hayden.

Col. John Hayden

Chief of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police

My hope for 2021 is that the St. Louis community works closely with St. Louis Police Department, the Circuit Attorney’s Office, the United States Attorney’s Office and local social service agencies to the ends that violent criminals are held accountable for their actions and root causes of violent crime are diminished.

Joel Crespo. - MONICA MILEUR
  • Joel Crespo.

Joel Crespo

Co-owner of Guerrilla Street Food

We're trying to remain hopeful obviously — and not trying to make any drastic changes — that we very quickly get another round of some version of help, whether that's PPP [Paycheck Protection Program] or stimulus checks, because people's goodwill is only going to get us so far. We're also hoping that these vaccines work out, and people take them when they become available. All we can do is take it one day at a time, look at the thing that is right in front of us and keep pushing forward.

It's hard, because everyone is struggling — all businesses are struggling, and everyone is hurting. This year try to make a conscious effort to support local as much as possible; you can't eat at every single place you want to, but another thing people can do to help is engage with them on social media. I share posts and do my part, because it's always a frustrating thing running a small business, wondering if anyone is listening to me and looking at pictures or if I'm yelling into the void. The more engagement, the better, and I personally try to support the little places, like the little Chinese or Mexican places that don't get written about as much but are doing the right thing, even when no one is watching. I think about the people who don't get talked about as much. I know it's cliché, but the only way we will get through this is together, and I'm trying to figure out ways to do that, even if doesn't seem like a big deal.

I'm just trying to focus on the positive of people who are willing to support a restaurant they love. I don't think that on January 1 a switch will be flipped — the virus doesn't understand time — but it feels like the fresh start that everyone is craving, and if that is hope to get you through to the next day then so be it. You do everything in your power to spread it however you can, and hopefully it will be contagious.

  • Mawda Altayan.

Mawda Altayan

Owner of Damascus Food

Honestly, I have many wishes. The most important ones for me are: 1) I hope the coming year will be a good and healthy year for me, my family and for all people. 2) I hope the epidemic ends and everyone returns to their lives. 3) I hope to move to a better home. 4) I hope more people will get to know my catering food company Damascus Food LLC. 5) I hope to have the chance to open my own small restaurant for Syrian food and dessert.

  • Patrick Siler.

Patrick Siler

St. Louis theater director and stage manager for Upstream Theater

I hope for live communal experiences. For me that means live theater. Live theater was one of the first activities and industries to shut down because of the pandemic and will be one of the last to start back up. As one whose life has always in one way or another been steeped in theater, I really miss working with people in a live setting. I miss the fellowship and love of the very special artists, technicians and audiences of the St. Louis theater community. I miss collaborating with designers and technicians. I miss the smell of drying paint on scenery, helping to lug costumes, witnessing epiphanies in rehearsal, struggling with dramatic text, working to build a light and sound cue, hugging people, hearing audience laughter, being moved to tears and sensing, knowing that there are those around me feeling the same thing, even if I've never met these people prior. I hope that 2021 provides the opportunity for these things, the experiences that are shared and felt viscerally and can only be done with others.

  • Steven Fitzpatrick.

Steven Fitzpatrick Smith

Owner of the Royale

In 2020, it became even more apparent that our surreal world is on fire, and we haven't been able to connect with each other in a consistently healthy fashion. My hope for 2021 is that we don't get back to "normal," but instead embrace life even more firmly. We can create a more mindful and honest world for ourselves and those around us. 2021 will probably be the sweetest time ever to get a drink with your neighbors.

Nate Burrell. - ESTHER ROSE
  • Nate Burrell.

Nate Burrell


With life as we all have known it becoming drastically different as of March 2020, backed by a fallout that will be ongoing for quite some time, a lot of hope hangs in the balance. Some folks' dreams were put on hold, while others were lost altogether. It's been a tragedy slowly unfolding, both globally and locally.

Of course, like most folks, I hope for the big broad things to get better: human peace, equality, compassion, economies to open back up, independent businesses to thrive, people being able to operate as safely as possible in our world. We all want a better future. And I hope we see new ways of being become more readily encouraged and accepted.

When I think locally to the neighborhoods and residents of our city, one thing I really hope for is that the St. Louis community continues to maintain our spirit and determination. We are a resilient bunch, here in this brick city, with more pride and community support than we like to give ourselves credit for. Our underdog mentality is a blessing and a curse, but that same blue-collar willingness to take one on the chin and then stand up and keep pushing ahead might just be our best tool as a community going forward. I hope we stick together, as friends and strangers, while we continue to work through these difficult times.

Melanie Meyer. - ANDY PAULISSEN
  • Melanie Meyer.

Melanie Meyer

Owner of Tiny Chef

I definitely want to keep growing Tiny Chef as much as I can, but my hope is to go back to Korea. That's my biggest dream right now — to go back to Korea to visit the orphanage I came from, eat all the food, stage at a place, see how they cook at the markets. I haven't been back since I was born, and now that world is everything to me. I hope to go visit my hometown and immerse myself in that world. It almost makes me homesick; even though I don't have any memory, a part of me is missing. As for here, my hope is for everyone to stay safe and healthy. I want things to go back to normal so badly. Everything is awkward right now, but at least people are treating people w more empathy than normal. I hope that continues.

  • Jason Deem.

Jason Deem

Owner of South Side Spaces

I hope to see a return to good health, good governance and a societal shift offline and away from social media. I hope to see healing and progress around racial inequality, the widening economic gap and long-ignored mental health issues. I hope to see a trend towards unity and mutual understanding of diverse perspectives. A shift towards call-in culture. I hope we invest in building robust safety nets and prioritize public incentives around populations in need and small businesses — especially those hit hard by COVID. Basically the opposite of 2020.

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