ST. LOUIS – There is a division often seen between north and south St. Louis that shows up in demographics, economics, race and wealth. Now, one St. Louis group is working to bridge that divide.

The St. Louis Association of Community Organizations (SLACO) program is now underway and they have a mission to bring communities together, to strengthen the neighborhoods.

Residents from Penrose, O'Fallon and Shaw toured each other’s areas Saturday. Thanks to SLACO, they could view some of the issues each neighborhood is facing, in hopes of learning from one another how to resolve them.

Ralph Tidwell lives in the Penrose area and he believes there are many problems in his neighborhood that others don’t have to deal with.

“The abandoned buildings, we have buildings that are so badly deteriorated that they are actually starting to collapse,” Tidwell said.

Vacant homes and buildings are just two of the issues. He said trash is another challenge.

“One of the biggest issues in this area is dumping,” Tidwell said.

That’s why organizers of SLACO brought the communities together to help bridge the gap between them. But Tidwell said when it comes to the city helping to resolve some of the issues the Penrose area faces, like the trash, they are handled much differently.

“It’s a difficult situation trying to get them to respond. There is a big difference between what we’re facing and what they’re facing,” Tidwell said.

But organizers are hoping learning about issues in each area is a good starting point to help residents share knowledge, that will eventually help to strengthen their communities overall.

“Combining our neighborhood associations will give us a little more strength and power,” Tidwell said.

During this event, residents also discussed other city-wide issues like crime in the neighborhoods and organizers said this was all an effort to talk about how they can improve each community.