SWT Design, Clayton Century Foundation and Bob Chapman: What do they have in common? An ambitious plan for the $4 million plaza that will grace the northeasternmost corner of Shaw Park in Clayton. SWT recently submitted fresh designs for the multifaceted project, which will do the county seat proud … a fountain, waterfall, areas to sit and stroll, and much more that you may have come to expect from a landscape design firm responsible for landmarks region-wide where relaxation and interaction are encouraged. Think the City/Arch/River project, various sites in Forest Park, and the SLUH campus. Not to mention that Chapman, whose company, Barry-Wehmiller (a global equipment and engineering solutions company), is headquartered in Clayton, and he is a benevolent force to be reckoned with. While many employees wish for better treatment, we imagine Chapman’s are relatively ecstatic. The CEO co-wrote a book on how to take care of them like your nearest and dearest. Everybody Matters, written last year with Raj Sisodia, was quoted thusly by Inc. magazine: “… (the) CEO of the $1.7 billion manufacturing company is on a mission to change the way businesses treat their employees.” It’s been said of his approach that when a family hits tough times, none of the kids is laid off. Everyone weathers good times and bad times together; that includes economic downturns. Since 1987, Barry-Wehmiller has acquired 75-some companies, making skeptics into believers. Meanwhile, ground should be broken on the jaw-dropping park project by this fall, officials say, with an expected grand opening in 2017. In plain sight of B-W HQ, the sloping plaza site at Brentwood and Forsyth boulevards is informally called Chapman Plaza by everyone, says Patty DeForrest, city parks topper, but folks who know him say Chapman might demur when it comes to making it official. He and his family, along with Clayton Century Foundation, have been the prime movers behind a plan that will leave this legacy and make Shaw Park even more of a draw for generations to come. (Chapman’s book, and his TED talk, are very worthwhile.)

Most of us probably don’t think about what it’s like to be prevented from simply enjoying the features of a playground, but for a youngster in a wheelchair or facing myriad other challenges with mobility, it’s top of mind. The Jewish Community Center is about to make it easier for those kids. An accessible playground is opening next week in Chesterfield at the J’s Marilyn Fox Building, 16501 Baxter Road. A large portion of the support for the early-childhood facility comes from the Tilles Foundation, with additional funds donated by Marie and Stuart Block and Marilyn and Sam Fox and designed by Spaces For Play. The expanded design is a wonderland of surfaces and special features for pre-K kids, including a play area designed specifically for infants and toddlers. And prepare to get out the ‘smart’ phone when the little ones encounter a water feature made just for them. As the project continues to unfold, nature, music, art, sensory and dramatic play components will be added. Got a budding Shakespeare on your hands? This will be a wet and sandy midsummer night’s dream for you after not too long. Ribbon-cutting is a week from Sunday (May 15) at 10:30 a.m. The playground, although mainly for kids in J youth programs and camps, will be made available for local families and for open play days for children with disabilities. Think small. The art easel is built so a child can approach it either on foot or in a wheelchair. And there’s another plus for kids of all ages and abilities: They can experience empathy by interacting with others who are different from themselves.

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TT-STLSome young people sing whenever they can, but those in ‘under-resourced’ schools don’t have the opportunity to do so except maybe in a church environment. But a $5,000 grant from the Monsanto Fund aims to make it easier for the St. Louis Children’s Choirs to offer exceptional choral music experiences and skills through in-school collaborations, individual classroom observations, and hands-on learning. With help from the Des Lee Fine Arts Collaborative, the choirs will continue to work with St. Louis and Normandy schools … as well as begin working with two new districts: Jennings and U. City. ‘Music Made Together’ is the effort through which music educators hope to reach those who may not have had a chance to join voices quite like this before. The choirs will work directly with about 1,400 young voices and reach more than 22,000 others through this concerted effort. The organization strives to include kids regardless of where they live or attend school, and in so doing, include young people ages 6 to 18 from more than 200 schools representing 85, count ’em, 85 ZIP codes in Missouri and Illinois. Talented kids region-wide perform classical, sacred, contemporary and world music, and scholarships are available on a needs-based, sliding scale regardless of demographics.

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Ever try to talk sense into your car’s GPS, which always insists on saying ‘recalculating’ whenever you decide to take what you know is a shortcut … or you need to take a detour? Well, you just can’t reason with technology. The device just keeps on chirping in that annoying, otherworldly voice. So mute it. Now, listen up: Those of us who already learned of route changes at Skinker and Delmar due to Loop Trolley construction now know to get where we’re trying to go using a different way. But for those who haven’t yet, here’s a belated traffic report for you: Right now, you can’t get there through here. If all goes according to plan, however, you’ll be able to get back to the Delmar Loop in U. City again any way you wish as early as this Friday night. Meanwhile, consider an east-west alternative in Forest Park Parkway, and north-south routes on Big Bend Boulevard, to the west of the Loop, or DeBaliviere to the east. (Remember, fair citizens: That’s pronounced ‘DeBolliver’ in these parts.) The intersection was expected to be impassable for about 12 days in the last part of April and first part of May. But all this stop and go is all about streetcars coursing their way through the streets, from the Loop to the History Museum in Forest Park— and soon. When the work at this key intersection wraps up, officials say work on the tracks will be 85 percent complete. Amen to that!

There’s a young female entrepreneur in our midst, and she may be known better at this point for her initials: NMB. That stands for Nora M. Brooks, which in a monogram is NBM, with the ‘B’ larger than the initials on either side, for anyone confused when trying to figure out how to correctly arrange letters on the towels from a bridal registry. Nora knows. A senior at Ursuline Academy in Kirkwood, she is one of 100 young people who received $2,000 with a Young Entrepreneur Award scholarship from the National Federation of Independent Business. The YEA program also includes a year’s membership in the NFIB. Nora’s monogrammed creations range from planters and small blackboards to jewelry and decals … some to adorn the back window of a vehicle, others tiny enough to personalize a pedicure. Check out NB3 Personalized Gifts on Facebook for the array of possibilities she can create, all at ridiculously reasonable prices. Looks like she has enough Mother’s Day orders to keep her busy through next May! Nora is one of four Missouri winners; two others hail from our immediate vicinity. Wesley Abeln is from Manchester, and Adam Magee lives in St. Louis.

Featured photo courtesy of SWT Design