Monday, April 12, 2010

Miss Metrolink: Liz Kramer

Liz Kramer may seem like a mild mannered young professional at first glance, but her advocacy for public transportation in St. Louis, along with some clever events has earned her the nickname 'Miss Metrolink', a character she has transformed into to show the city that public transportation is beyond important, it is downright fun.

We recently sat down with Liz to hear about the mysterious origins of Miss Metrolink and hear her thoughts on the recent passage of Proposition A, which restored funding to public transportation in the metropolitan area.

Before we even started the interview, Liz broke us off with this amazing news, all Metrolink stations now allow you to purchase tickets on credit cards. Those of us who don't carry cash and can never find a nearby ATM realize how big of a deal this is. With that out of the way, we were set to start.

STLJ: Where did the idea for Miss Metrolink come from and how did you turn into her?

A few years back, I was at the veiled profit parade with some friends, and we saw a woman with a sash that said, "Miss Metro St. Louis", I thought it was for Metrolink, and when I realized that it wasn't, I decided that wanted to be the winner of the Miss Metrolink Pageant. It basically became a joke between our friends.

I found a blue prom dress in my parents house, and my friends made a costume and I wore it on the train on the way to my 21st birthday. At this point it was still a joke.

I met Claire Nowak-Boyd, also half a Jew, because she wanted to have a pageant for the Metro, and we thought a pagaent was too complicated, so we just hd a prom on the Metrolink which happened to be right before Prop M (a previous measure to restore Metro funding) was on the ballot. We harassed my roommate until she agreed to help us plan it, chose a route, and bought a bunch of dollar store party favors. That first year we didn't even tell Metro what we were doing, and we had a specific political agenda where we told everyone at the end to vote for Prop M.

After Prop M failed, we hosted a very tongue in cheek funeral for the all of the bus lines that were cut back. Everyone wrote ridiculous eulogies for the bus funeral, people went all out.

STLJ: You've been getting a fair amount of your press on behalf of your advocacy. How have you managed that?

I don't like the press and media aspect. I get uncomfortable around the media piece. My background is in technical theater, so I'm used to backstage work. When we planned the events,I was in charge of operations, Claire handled promotions and media.

STLJ: What is one of the largest challenges you have faced as a result of the character of St. Louis?

St. Louis is a very difficult place reinventing yourself. I think people who are here, you become what you are doing very completely. I still have people calling me in regards to research I did on urban food in North St. Louis several years ago. I tell them that I'm sure someone has done more up to date research.

STLJ: A lot of people talk about all the changes that need to take place in St. Louis, what makes that change happen?

I think it is all about social networking in terms of fixing things. I don't put much intention in who I meet or doing things, I just think that things happen. I don't believe in coincidences. I didn't start out to be the transit advocate. I care about it, but it isn't my main thing. I'm more interested in urban systems. I think you can connect people and give people the opportunity to connect and interact. I feel like we are creating a social self inspirational snowball, where you know someone who is doing something cool, which inspires you to make something happen, which in turn inspires someone else. I think that is how to create movements that change things in communities this size. I didn't want to make the Miss Metrolink political, I wanted to talk about why transit is fun and important. The event is about having fun on transit.

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