by Tom Finkel
The Catholic Worker community on the north side of St. Louis makes a cameo appearance in a just-released documentary about a cross-country bus trip undertaken to gauge America's mood in the lead-up to the 2008 presidential election.
The program, entitled The Great American Detour, aired on the cable and satellite network Current TV and is available for streaming at the network's website, Current.com.
Our Fair City's brief moment comes roughly midway through the show, right about minute 21. St. Louis is depicted in its best down-at-the-heels outfit, as producer-narrator Lauren Cerre informs us that we used to be the fourth-largest in the nation but now don't even crack the top one hundred. (The latter stat's a little misleading: A glance at Wikipedia informs us that St. Louis ranks mid-pack in a list of the 100 biggest U.S. cities.)
Looking for "urban homesteaders," Cerre zeroes in on the north side, where she meets a fellow named George who tells her the old joke about Catholic Workers ("I'm a Catholic Worker, which means that I'm not Catholic and I don't work") and gives the documentarians a quick tour of the 1/3-acre farm he helps till, plus a tasty-looking nectarine from the community's orchard.
Then it's off to downtown for Cerre, who's in search of her namesake street.
To read more about the local Catholic Worker community, check out "Cool to Be Kind," a feature by Molly Langmuir that we published in early '07.