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St. Louis Community Spotlight

The St. Louis Pokémon GO Community is an awesome group of Trainers, and we want you to share in their awesome initiatives, ideas, tips, and so much more! They recently did a fund to raise money to help those in need get tickets for Pokémon GO Fest 2020. How awesome is that?! Get to know CallMeFil, PDPokeDoc, Emily, and Charles as they unfold how the St. Louis PoGO Community deals with things. Enjoy!

PS. Make sure to tap the toggles in order to read each and everyone’s answers to the questions!

THE INTERVIEW - WELCOME TO ST. LOUIS

G2G: Can you tell us a little bit about the St. Louis community (i.e. how many members, how long you’ve been established), yourself, and your role within the community?

The Greater St. Louis Community in the beginning was heavily fragmented in several ways, like many other communities from major cities. We do our best to improve our community against all odds, so let me share with you what we been through.

Over time, we bring onboard new local leadership from our in-person events that we host every month (before the pandemic). It makes various issues, sustainment and ideas for growth easier for our Greater St. Louis area as we unify under one roof and ecosystem. Pokémon GO St. Louis (Official) was given life on July 19, 2018 after splitting up from a pre-existing larger group (15k). We now have 8k members (in less than 2 years +4.6k) and an ecosystem in which we grow the #Official Pokémon GO STL Discord chat (from 0 to 7.8k) against an already existing 1.5k server at that time.

We have been running very large Community Day post party events by doing raffles. We also advertise each #PokemonGOCommunityDay on Facebook to grow our community and give our players the fighting chance to return and play. We then connect them to Live Community Day post party events so they can get a thrill why our community is so special.

My role is to find leaders, inspire others, and create leaders. I have been pulling people together for the idea of unity to move forward together for a while. We have amazing leaders that work closely with me (Sarah & Mike mainly & several others) that have stepped up to unite and have the Greater St. Louis community be the best that ever was.

The St. Louis Pokémon GO Community is HUGE and DIVERSE with AMAZING players who are GENEROUS with their time and TALENTS! I guestimate there are at least 25,000 active players and growing! I love how diverse the players are, as the game transcends age, race, ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, education, occupation, politics, and life experiences.

I started the game on July 10, 2016 thanks to my then 22 y/o daughter who told me about this really cool game that allows players to catch pocket monsters in the real world, similar to how Ash did in the anime. From humble beginnings, I am now on the brink of becoming level 40 X 9.

Initially, during the prestige gym system, I joined a LINE chat group of Mystic players located in the Maryland Heights/Creve Coeur area. During the prestige era, teams were very territorial and worked against each other in an antagonistic way. Best thing Niantic ever did was to develop the Raid Boss Gym system where players of all teams have to work together to defeat raid bosses.

When the gym system changed, I started a chat group called PoGO Raiders that covers the Coeur-Heights area. My group has grown so much that we now have 300 active players in 3 different LINE chat groups: Coeur Heights Raiders for raid coordination, Battle Zone for PvP and GO Battle League and the main group PoGO Zone for all else Pokemon GO related.

I don’t like to call myself the leader of this group as LINE chats do not allow moderators with admin privileges but as the most active player, I am the default leader and one of the most veteran players. The last line of my Welcome statement to the group says, “May this chat group spread knowledge, help you catch Pokémon and help you make new friends during your Pokémon Adventures!”

About a year ago, a few of us had the idea to unite some of the local South City-area raid groups so that there was just one main group for everyone to coordinate through. That’s when South City Raidland was formed. Through working with other groups in the area and the St. Louis Pokémon Go Center, we’ve grown to over 200 members.

As for me, I started playing in May 2018. I really enjoy how interactive the game is and how everyone has their own unique game style. I like the physical aspect too. That said, the game may have been the thing to draw me in, but the community of amazing people is what keeps me involved.

I work with a great team of admins to keep Raidland organized. Our primary goal is to foster community and keep Raidland a safe space where people can come together to play Pokémon Go, have some fun, and escape the stress of the world for a bit.

I’ve been playing since July 7, 2016. I like to wear crazy shirts (often featuring cats and/or nerdy references) on Community Days. My areas I play have shifted due to changing jobs since the game started, but I’ve been able to find a community to raid with/do community day regardless of what part of the greater St. Louis area I found myself.

Much of this is thanks to Facebook groups. Before COVID, other members of the communities and myself would either form groups walking or carpooling. After getting a new vehicle last year, I was only able to do a few Community Days where I’d drive others around to help them shiny hunt. Then COVID happened, and obviously things have changed a lot since then regarding in-person gatherings. I do miss the old times…

G2G: If you could only use five words to describe what sets your community apart from others, what are they and why?

UNDERDOGS – We work smarter and more efficiently with smaller numbers compared to other major cities.

FAITH – Uniting more & more everyday and gave picture to being selected as the first city of the decade for a Niantic Event, Safari Zone.

RELENTLESS – Growing a community after a pre-existing under unfavorable obstacles and odds.

PASSIONATE – We care about our city, the growth, and members of our communities.

GIVING – We give our time to the planning, development R&D, to the kids at the events, to the parents, local hobbyists, food pantries (every CD), promotion to help local businesses, and to others.

DIVERSE – We have families from toddlers to grand parents who play. Players of different races, religions, LGBTQ, occupations and socioeconomic status, … It’s amazing how catching Pokémon unites this diverse group of people.

GENEROUS – With time, money, talent and love. Players will be selfless and wait to start a raid so others can join. We had a young teenager who couldn’t play due to a really old janky phone. The group got him a new phone, $100 worth of App Store Cash and more. Recently, some users donated over $500 for less fortunate players to purchase a 2020 GO Fest ticket!

TALENTED – We have players that can Catch ’em All, organize raids, organize PvP battles, compile regional nest lists and more.

CARING – We look out for any players or members that may have special needs: getting more gifts because they are homebound, jumping out of raids because they got booted out, providing social sympathy which goes a long way when you’re feeling down, …

FRIENDLY – My group always tries to be inclusive; not exclusive. We welcome new members and actively help and educate them on best ways to play the game.

We are South City strong.

As cheesy as that may sound, it’s the first thing that came to my mind. I think the reason is that South City is notorious for its community involvement, especially when it comes to supporting marginalized communities.

Many of our players have some level of involvement with South City small businesses, from employment to patronization (the bars with stops are especially popular ha); we even have a few local business owners who play with us. For these reasons, it’s vital to keep Raidland a safe space where people can feel free to express themselves and make friends with others who share similar ideals. Community is what makes South City great. Who wouldn’t want to emulate that?

  • Compassion
  • Helpfulness
  • Embracing
  • Diversity
  • Excellence

G2G: With so many events and numerous members, how do you manage it all? Do you have a team around you or is it all you?

To identify and line up the values of what volunteers want for their community they spend their time in. We make sure we can provide a system or processes that outlast ourselves so others in the future can carry the torch if need be. When we have dedication and commitment, we are unstoppable.

Motivated leaders willing to get experienced help and having the time to make things happen. Time is my biggest constraint. Goals should come from dreams guided by reality and motivated by enthusiasm.

I’d say helping people new to the game or with questions to feel included and not left behind. For me, it’s more about having fun than a contest to see who gets the most shinies, for example. I’d rather slow down a bit to turn on my phone’s wifi hotspot so someone with cell signal issues can continue to play.

G2G: Could you tell us more about the GO Fest tickets initiative you’ve set up? Where did the idea came from?

The idea came from Doc who thought it would be a good idea since myself and others lead the Facebook group. We worked closely and then the project expanded from there to help many.

A very generous anonymous PoGO Zone member gave me money to help a family of 4 in our group get GO Fest tickets. I matched that amount and more and a few more members gave me money. I ran into Philip Ma and asked him to help as he is probably our regions best known and most organized player.

He volunteered to find needy players and distribute funds and the next thing you know we started an informal GOFestFundme account. If I can ever get the help and organization, it would be wonderful to establish a real GoFundme account but that will be for next year!

I first heard about the idea to get the community involved when Philip posted a kind of “check-in” post in the Pokémon GO: St. Louis (Official) FB group. He asked if there were any players that wanted to go to GOFest but couldn’t due to financial hardship. I immediately knew it was something I wanted to be involved in, so I dropped a comment about how I’d be interested in pitching in if a fund was started.

Eventually Philip reached out to me and, the more we chatted about it, the more I thought it’d be a great thing to take to Raidland. Philip agreed with my idea, so I made a few Admin posts in the chat and now I’m incredibly proud to share that a few Raidland members have officially sponsored 3 GOFest tickets!

G2G: What do you think is the most important aspect of organizing a Pokémon GO community event? What is the main goal you aim for?

The Official Pokémon GO STL group manages every event by meeting every month, a couple days before CD. We do this to sort out the prizes for the post part event, recalculate the donations, and exchange goods from multiple areas where we split off our tasks remotely and come together.

We use the power of unity to funnel information through the pipeline and using strategies to get maximum exposure. We are fortunate to have a team and a back up team of readily volunteers set for Facebook, for community events, and one for Discord.

Lol! I don’t manage it. As I mentioned earlier, LINE chat doesn’t allow moderators or admin privileges. It does allow any members to pin notes, post in albums, … The albums are arranged as Events, Raid Bosses, and Legendary Raid Bosses with fun albums to post your Perfect Pokémon, Shiny’s, Luckies, and much more. I have a great core of veteran players that constantly step up to educate others and several “moms” that will admonish members if chats get too heated.

Our group is primarily just a raid chat and is moderated by an Admin Team of 6 great people. We don’t really do planned events, although many in our group like to meet up in Tower Grove Park on Raid Days and Community Days. The Admin Team mainly focuses on chat moderating though: while groups are free to use our chat to communicate and organize, we don’t actively take the lead unless specifically asked.

I’m in various chats on Facebook and Discord which helps me keep track of who’s doing what. I credit the rest of the community for most of the effort of organizing. It’s a team effort for sure.

G2G: Are there other initiatives like the GOFest ticket fund, or totally different ones, that you organize in your community? What kind of influence do these initiatives and events have?

We organize monthly PvP events, not only to battle, but to celebrate the community between each other without a Niantic in-game event. We eat together over the extended 40+ people dinner table, to celebrate our rounds created by the amazing Silph Arena.

Rotation on volunteers basis: Home cooked meals, making room or giving away multiple lists of Shinies as rewards, build friendships or grinding for XP from heavily influenced incentives, awarding trophies, and allowing hobbyists or small business to also take part in what is amazing in front of their eyes.

No major initiatives like GOFestFundme, as the limitation is obtaining funds. Raid Days and Raid Hours have been organized with raid routes, car-pooling, … During the pandemic, we have remote raid sites so we can stay safe and socially distant. Raid invites are here, so the group is organizing invites. I have dreamed of hosting a Pokemon Trivia contest but the pandemic has put that event on hold for now.

G2G: Do you have any tips or tricks for fellow community leaders on how to work with a large group, keep things exciting and relevant, and most of all, positive?

We mainly use social media contests on Discord or Facebook tying into the bigger events of things. Especially when we notice a downtime from Niantic. A great way to keep things exciting is a team CP Ladder challenge. People where up all night because of that. We also have a general one on Facebook.

One strategy is to find Pokémon Memes and share that with your group. MBTI tests are one of the best to know each other better. We stay away from anything that is not KISS. We encourage a large group of players in every situation in communications of moving forward. A river that keeps flowing will never become a swamp or small stream.

Communicate with other leaders, be a member of multiple groups so you can observe how they operate, delegate work to responsible motivated players, be organized! Avoid toxic boasts, remove hateful messages, and admonish those who degrade others. Remember you don’t have to lead and control everything. Step back, relax, play the game and have fun!

It’s incredibly important to me that the group is a safe and positive place for players, so – while we do try to leave some room for healthy debate and allow for players to try to work things out on their own – I have learned that sometimes the best way to mitigate a situation is to conduct private discussions with any players involved in a dispute. Sometimes you have to meet someone where they are at to really get to the bottom of the issue.

My Admin Team also has a separate private team chat that we use to discuss different situations, which ensures that an issue gets opinions from diverse viewpoints. It really just comes down to teamwork. Drama and negativity can really impact a group, so we definitely go out of our way to avoid it whenever possible. We have an amazing group of people though, so fortunately it’s not something we see often!

Social media presence. Also a healthy blend of self-policing (reminding a fellow trainer in a park to clear out of the way if a vehicle comes along, for example) and standing up for fellow trainers. Self-policing and cleaning up after ourselves helps keep the Pokémon GO community in the good graces of the parks/areas that have lots of trainers gathering, such as Tower Grove Park.

G2G: Is there anything else you’d like to share or promote?

Honor Courage Commitment. Share with your loved ones to be more aware and get COVID Relief grants from MoveHumanitForward.com!

Not tonight. I mentioned earlier that my limiting factor is time. You should guess what I do by my gamername: PDPokeDoc. My immediate goal is to survive the pandemic so we can return to the days of raid carpools, trade meetings, PvP tournaments, regional Safari Zones, and GO Fests where players can travel and meet other players from around the world! Thanks for your time!

I’d like to see more promotion of small businesses of trainers or that support trainers, especially with the financial challenges of COVID.

Saintlike St. Louis

What. A. Community. After talking to Fil, Doc, Charles, and Emily, I immediately saw they put their heart and soul in the St. Louis community, and are wonderful people as well. As leader of a community myself, talking to them was very enriching, and I will definitely consider using some of their advice and ideas in the future! Feel free to do as well, cause we are all here to learn from each other.

Thanks again to the St. Louis Pokémon GO Community for taking the time for this Community Spotlight. Catch you next time, Trainers!

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Steverzwijn

Steven // 22 years young // Belgian // PoGO Lover // Soccer Player // Social Work Student // Favorite expression: "If our cat was a cow, we could milk it at the stove."

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