My partner is interviewing for a job in Edwardsville. Can anyone tell me if Edwardsville or any of the surrounding areas are liberal/crunchy/lgbt-friendly? Would we be better off living closer to St. Louis? What about school systems? (We have an 18-mo-old and 1 on the way.)
Are their midwives, birthing centers, and/or food coops around? We've lived in a pretty liberal though Southern city for many years and are completely ignorant of the middle part of the country. Help!
My family and I live in Edwardsville and we enjoy it a great deal. I consider Edwardsville to be the most liberal/crunchy city on this side of the Mississippi river. My daughter just turned 2 years old so we haven't had much to do with the school system besides attending High School football games but it seems to have a good reputation. I know a Montessori school just opened up in the area not too long ago if that is of any interest to you.
As for midwives and birthing centers, there aren't a ton of options at the moment but it doesn't mean it can't be done. I had a homebirth with my daughter with midwives from Missouri who agreed to travel to me because it wasn't too far for them. There is a birth center that is opening about 45 minutes from here in Missouri and I now know of at least one midwife in a town near Edwardsville but she is the only one I've heard of thus far. There has been a bill circulating around the Illinois Congress lately about legalizing midwives to attend homebirths but I'm not sure what the status of it is at the moment.
I don't know of a food coop. We have a local farmers market that runs Saturday mornings from May to October. We also have a local natural grocery store. I hope this helps. If you have any additional questions, I can certainly try to answer them for you. My husband and I enjoy Edwardsville a great deal and you can always drive into St. Louis for additional amenities.
Good Luck to your partner at the interview!
Thank you so much for your reply! You've definitely put me at ease a bit. I've been wanting to get out of the city for years now but I've always worried about how our little family would be received in smaller towns. It's great to know that's there's some liberal crunchiness for us to lean on in Edwardsville.
I read that there's a vegetarian cafe. Is it any good? What about other dining options? We don't do fancy but we do like to eat a lot of Mexican, Thai, Indian and other ethnic foods. Would we have to hit St. Louis for that?
Thanks so much again!
Yes, the vegetarian cafe (Sacred Grounds on Main Street) has some yummy food, baked goods, a nice Saturday morning brunch, etc. There are at least four Mexican restaurants in Edwardsville that I can think of at the moment. There is an Indian restaurant (Mr. Currys) that I have actually not been to yet but I've heard good things. We have an amazing Italian restaurant (Bella Milano). There is also a fondue restaurant on Main Street (Fond) that has a separate speciality grocery store (Township Grocer) next to it where you can eat lunch - lots of local/organic food. There is also a nice sushi place (Nori) and two Chinese food restaurants in town. Everything else is your basic fast food/chain restaurants*...except for Sgt. Peppers which is a Beatles-inspired restaurant that does the normal breakfast, burgers & fries, shakes, etc. I think this lists just about every food establishment here. :P
Thank you for all the additional information! I'm pregnant so I have food on the brain but I thought of more questions after I logged off. Have you had any luck connecting with other families in town? Are there playgroups or local parks where a lot of families congregate to play? I worry that we'll not fit in first b/c we're a same-sex couple but also because we're into the natural side of things. Even where we live now in a much bigger city, finding other natural-leaning, gentle parents to connect with has been tough though.
I live near there and grew up near there. It's a nice place to live.
Edwardsville has a biggish state university, so it's pretty liberal. There's a very good Montessori school (primary - 6th) nearby (15 minutes away in Pontoon Beach). The Edwardsville public school system is pretty good. My friend raves about it.
The YMCA is huge and is sort of the center of a lot of stuff that goes on in town. They have an active swim team and child care program and gymnastics team.
The public library is nice.
There's a pretty active arts scene.
There is a hippie grocery store called "Green Earth" and a Whole Foods/Trader Joe kind of place called "Market Basket." They're both in the LeClaire neighborhood.
More food: Wasabi has good sushi, too. Bella Milano has great Italian food. Bully's has good BBQ but fussy presentation. Reds' has good BBQ and plain presentation.
Sacred Grounds is more of a coffee and muffin kind of place to me, but I have friends who like their menu. There's a very cool, hip shopping area around that area.
You're about 45 minutes from St. Louis and can find all kinds of awesome ethnic food there. I highly recommend Pho Grand for cheap Vietnamese. Thip's in O'Fallon is 30 minutes away and has good Thai. Sen has good Thai in downtown St. Louis Annie's Frozen Custard has really great ice cream.
Edwardsville is not a GLBT mecca, but it's tolerant and tolerable. There's an active GLBT community in St. Louis and the annual Pride Festival is very family friendly. I take my kids and I'm straight.
Edwardsville has a really cool Halloween parade and downtown trick-or-treat, too.
EDIT: And Illinois will have gay marriage pretty soon, it seems. The Illinois House and the Illinois Senate passed a civil unions bill, which amends the Civil Practice Act to include "partner to a civil union" everywhere it says "spouse," "family member," or "next of kin" in the Illinois statute books. It provides a method for getting a civil union certificate, having the civil union solemnized by a judge or clergy-person, and getting divorced. It provides that a party to a civil union has all the rights and privileges and responsibilities as a party to a marriage. It also recognizes any marriage or civil union between a same sex couple from another state as valid in Illinois. The governor is supposed to sign it pretty soon. I think they're just trying to get a signing celebration together.