Trevor McKee, BFA21, has been awarded a CityStudioSTL Student Award to continue his work with Better Family Life (BFL)’s Operation Clean Sweep initiative, which he began as student in assistant professor Meghan Kirkwood’s Drone Photography class.
In the fall 2019 course, McKee used a DJI Mavic Pro 2 to document the demolition and deconstruction of vacant buildings, and the cleanup of vacant lots in North St. Louis City, through images and video. These visual assets bring awareness to the potential utility of vacant lots as things like parks, rain gardens, storm drains, and other amenities for the surrounding neighborhood.
In 2020, McKee intends to use a Mavic Mini sUAV (a small, unmanned aerial vehicle) to document sites that have already been rehabilitated by the Clean Sweep initiative in neighborhoods including Hamilton Heights, Wells-Goodfellow, Walnut Park, and the Ville. He will also document spring 2020 Clean Sweep events. His photo and video assets will be edited and provided back to BFL to support their ongoing efforts with Clean Sweep, highlighting the importance of the initiatives and providing documentation that BFL can use to find additional support for their work.
In his application, McKee pointed to these images as a “call-to-action for the St. Louis community.” The final images will be available for BFL’s use, and may be part of an exhibit that he will stage.
As James Clark, vice president of community outreach for BFL said in his recommendation letter for McKee’s grant, “[The students’] images and videos were instrumental in documenting the hard work of our volunteers and providing us valuable insight into the use of these spaces.”
In addition to supporting BFL, McKee hopes this project will give him opportunities to leverage his skills as a designer to have a meaningful social impact on a community close to his home, and to help him practice hard skills like photo and video editing and narrative series development as he works with Kirkwood on the project.