I often think about the most noble efforts that could provide the greatest improvement to the city.
Outside of educating people on good development (something I'm learning from reading urbanreviewstl and ecology of absence blogs), here are my thoughts:
1. Rehabbing a property that is currently out of use to one that will be in use.
2. Opening a business/creating jobs in the city.
3. Sending your kids to the public schools.
I think #1 and 2 go hand in hand. If we had more attractive housing, there would be more people. If we had more jobs, there would be more people/activity/tax base. Rehabbing our fabulous housing stock is in my mind the most important thing you can do for the city. Since the city's population has precipitously declined since her hey day, it is also noble to take 4 families down to 2, or 2 families down to single family homes. Creating a livable, respectful space out of ramshackle dump amazing. We need more of this on every scale.
#3 is also at the front of my mind. So many urban minded people leave this town when their kids get to school age. Many of them don't even try the schools before they leave. They choose to be part of the problem, not the solution. In my mind it is apparent that responsible, active parents are less likely to put up with incompetence and b.s. when it come to the teachers and students currently in the schools. The school system is less in need of more money or newer schools, what they simply need are more kids with parents that give a shit. Parents that will fight to make the places better. Parents that aren't scared to speak up. Parents that teach their kids self respect at home will go to school armed with self confidence and pride. Those kind of families need to fill up the halls and classrooms with their kids....not run to the private schools, parochial schools and the suburbs.